Almost There…

The beds are almost ready for planting! This weekend I finished buying and mixing the soil, the composition of which is based on the mix in Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. I wandered around town the last month or so looking for vermiculite, peat moss, and compost. The difficult part was finding compost from different sources as the big home improvement stores only seem to carry the types based on manure. I ended up using cotton burr, humus and manure, grass, and mushroom based compost found mostly at smaller garden and grocery stores. I might actually plant something this week!

Soil - Early Mix

Adding the different materials for the soil mix.

Soil - Final Mix

The final mix of vermiculite, peat, and compost.

12 replies on “Almost There…”

  1. Anne Murray says:

    This is really amazing! I can’t believe all the work you’ve put into these gardens. I keep telling Scott to look at your blog and do the same for us….good job!

    • Bob says:

      It is a lot of work, that’s for sure. I should have started in the fall and worked over the winter a little at a time instead of trying to get it all done between when the snow melted and when I the first plant should go in. The good thing is that it is almost ready.

      • Mary says:

        I just bought a pearmde mix from Millers LLC in Hyrum Utah (you can google them they supply garden centers all over the intermountain west) and they did several tests to get a better pH and balanced nutrients in a clean and organic mix. I haven’t planted anything yet (it snowed yesterday) but it’s nice and fluffy and if you live nearby their plant you can pick it up in bulk. It cost me $80 for 1 cubic yard and was more than enough for my 10 3 foot 10 inch deep bed. They even scrubbed the bucket clean before scooping it and placing it in our truck. Does that sound like an okay price? This is the first time I’ve done square foot gardening although I’ve got two row gardens out back (we have high winds and need the harder soil for the plants that could blow away otherwise). I like that it was easy. I’ll keep you posted if it grows anything.

      • Sebastian says:

        thank you emily! i got 2 parts mushroom compsot, 1 part perlite, and 1 part peat moss. my bed is 4 foot by 4 foot and is framed by bricko blocks (to save money even though its ugly). Bricko blocks are 12 inches deep, but i also had wet cardboard and old leaves in there getting all nice and yucky. i put the mix on top of that. i did not stamp it down, i just left it all fluffy. what depth of mix do you recommend while its all fluffy i know it will prolly settle?

      • Sergey says:

        I tried the modified Mel’s Mix (along w 2 other fmaily members in different states). And we all find that the veggies are extremely leafy and tall w/no fruit to bare.We believe that there may be too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorous. We all mixed a total ratio of 2:2:4 (cu. ft.)I think I may add the remaining 2cu ft peet moss and 2 cu ft vermiculite this weekend.I hope my garden is not too far gone!Any advice?Thanks!!!

      • Rodolfo says:

        I’m not sure the context of this quietson I’m wondering if you have little flies or gnats flying around your seedlings that you’ve started indoors? If so, these are not fruit flies, but fungus gnats. The flies are harmless, but their larvae will kill your plants.I would go to your local nursery or ag supply (ie: IFA here in Utah) and ask for help with this. From what I read on the internet, there is a bacteria powder you can put down that kills them.

    • Elmer says:

      Well, cmosopt needs to be cut in half at least or roots will burn. I use a soil-less’ mix of 1/3 cmosopt, 1/3 coarse vermiculite, and 1/3 shredded peat (well soaked). Even if you mix your cmosopt with packaged top soil, you will have to get some assurances that it is organic soil. Anyone can package up dirt and call it top soil. Don’t believe it ask.

    • Tracy says:

      Hi Emily,Love your site. Very informative . I rellay suck at Math Question is for a 4 x 4 box 10 inch depth, would you be able to formulate a breakdown as to how many bags of vermiculite, peat moss and compost would that take to fill this box? Thank you so much!

    • Myomin says:

      Hi. I admit I get frustrated with all the dieerffnt numbers for dieerffnt things.I have a fish fertilizer I bought which is described as being all purpose and use on all indoor and outdoor plants It’s 5-1-1 . Can I really use that for everything? I guess the idea of buying dieerffnt things for my onions then tomatoes then flowers etc bugs me. Last year I forgot to use fertilizer at all! (but it was really hot last year and I didn’t want to go outside . everything I grew tomatoes, squash, strawberries and potatoes did fine but this year I’m putting alot more in and am going to pay more attention.) BTW I got to your site via how to grow onion sets. I tried a FEW last year they were really scallons and ironicly I did get some little onions that I still have some of. This year I bought three kinds of onion sets and I’m planning on planting them tomorrow. (note- I’m in colorado and the last month we have had weekly snow with very cold temps. otherwise I’d have planted them earlier hard to do when your garden area is under snow.)

    • Nelma says:

      I just finished fnililg my boxes and planting my garden and I did a mix between Mels and a modified version. I looked at what I wanted long term and it was good soil from the start. If I filled mine with mostly top soil and then amended (like a lot of my friends), I would be spending more in the long run adding to the soil every year. If I forked over the money for a good mix up front, I would be saving money later on. I was able to find vermiculite for $20/bag which is incredibly low considering what I was finding elsewhere. I also was able to get horse compost for $15/load which was our entire truck bed full to the max off of craigslist. It had been composting for 5-8 years and was steaming when we picked it up. We then added several other kinds as well as peat moss. My suggestion would be to check craigslist for things like this too.

  2. Omar says:

    4 x16 =64 square feet x1/2 =32 cubic feet. You need to fill two gedarns, so that means 64 cubic feet. If you buy ingredients by the bag, make sure it adds up to 64 cubic feet. There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard, so you need 2 1/2 cubic yards to fill both your beds. I just found a fantastic product called N’Rich by Kellogg. It’s carried at the . It has rice hulls in it, which act like vermiculite. So you could combine this with bales of peat moss, maybe add one or two other composts, and be done.If you’re going to do this, I would say do 1 part peat to 2 parts compost. That means 21 cubic feet of peat moss (probably four 3-cubic foot bales, compressed. When you open them they expand to more like 5 cubic feet) and 45 cubic feet of compost. I would buy twelve 3-cubic foot bags of N’Rich (36 cubic feet) and then get about ten 1-cubic foot bags of one or two kinds of compost as available at your store. Maybe mushroom, chicken, turkey, etc. Stay away from steer (loaded with the salt they feed the steer to fatten them up.) I hope this helps.

  3. Nikos says:

    Julie I think your ratio is just fine. Vermiculite is expensive, add as much as you can (up to 1/3) and call it good. I would go with bulk beasuce it’s too overwhelming not to! I would consider the bulk compost to have 3 types in it, horse, chicken, and mushroom. For good measure, do maybe 2 yards of this, and another half yard of bags from different sources. That would be only about 14 bags, which is much more reasonable. I know folks who garden with the premium compost and swear by it, and others who refuse to use it to grow food. I have no opinion. As far as types to buy in bags, just avoid steer compost. Anything else will do. It’s a bit expensive to set up the first year, but after that it’s really affordable. I add about 2-3 cubic feet compost or mix per 4 x4 x12 bed every year. It really fills it to the top and resupplies the nutrients needed.

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