Ask a Question forum: Fresh mushroom compost

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Name: Debbie Nobles
Pensacola, Fla (Zone 8b)
millerg54
Sep 27, 2015 10:36 AM CST
Hi I got some fresh mushroom compost yesterday. What mixture do I need to plant my fall veggies. I am using a metal stock tank from tractor supply. Thanks Debbie millerg54@gmail.com
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 27, 2015 2:17 PM CST
Kind of depends upon what other components you are thinking of using, Debbie. If your native soil is sandy like ours is here, you could go maybe half and half with the compost, but if you are thinking of using potting mix, you should also mix in some extra perlite or coarse chicken grit or something for aeration. Might be a good idea to check the pH of your soil or other components before you mix, too.

Does your stock tank have plenty of drainage? Compost can be very moisture-retentive so you want it to be able to drain freely so that it doesn't get too soggy.

Also, be sure that your compost has completely stopped "working" before you begin to use it. Some people have ordered a truckload of mushroom compost, and when it arrived, it heated up again from being all fluffed up with air in the moving process. If it's still working it will actually use up nitrogen out of the soil which can rob your plants of that necessary nutrient.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Sep 28, 2015 6:55 AM CST
And what's worse... The mushroom compost varies considerably from batch to batch...
One batch will be "hot" ( lots of nitrogen), while the next batch may be mostly carbon, and useless except as mulch.

Seems a waste of a valuable water holding container... I'd put it where it could catch the water off the roof, and stock it with water lilies and goldfish...

Or... Having filled it with soil... Grow a bog garden... But... I do live in an area where there is zero water retention in the bottomless white sand... And the ability to hold moisture is something very desireable here...

Hmm... Florida... Rainy season down there, isn't it?

I'd be hesitant about using a galvanized tub for growing food...

By the way...
Welcome to ATP!
[Last edited by stone - Sep 28, 2015 6:56 AM (+)]
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Name: Debbie Nobles
Pensacola, Fla (Zone 8b)
millerg54
Sep 28, 2015 7:12 AM CST
I did one raised bed with the stock tank earlier this year it worked great so I got another one. It drains well with the plug out. The compost is organic and from the only place I will buy my plants etc. ARC Gateway is a nursery run by a University of Fla grad from the horticulture program. She has 41 disabled adults that she works with. Everything is done by hand. It's a wonderful program with beautiful organic plants grown for this area. We have tons of rain today so it will be interesting to see what it is like when I get to plant next weekend.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 28, 2015 8:28 AM CST
millerg54 Welcome! Welcome to ATP.
I don't know any thing about fresh mushroom compost as I only buy mushroom compost in bags at the store, but I do know it would be a good idea to edit your post to remove your email address. Not everyone who reads these threads is a trusted member and you could get hit with some serious spam. We have the private Tree-mail system for sending messages and we can safely/privately post our email addresses there.
Hope you enjoy ATP and please post lots of photos; we love photos. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 28, 2015 6:39 PM CST
Hi Debbie. Welcome to ATP!

No one has said it yet, so I feel obligated. In theory at least, the only way to KNOW what your soil needs is to send some out to be tested. You MIGHT already have so much nitrogen and organic matter that you don;lt need much compost added.

But who sends their soil out to be tested??

Growing in a container, even a large container, is rather intensive compared to growing in soil.

You might have exhausted the relatively small amount of soil in the tank, and need to replace it all, or add 50% compost plus drainage amendments.

You might have made such rich soil last year that you would be better off flushing it out thoroughly, than adding more rich ingredients. But it might still benefit from restored drainage.

It's hard to guess, with containers.

My rule of thumb is that if the plants were not yellowing and stalling their growth last year, they had "enough" fertilizer or organic matter.

Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough, so I go easy rather than heavy when adding fertilizer (chemical fertilizer). If you are all-organic, you aren't likely to over-fertilize but might still have richer soil than you need.

With huge amounts of compost, I MIGHT ask about residual herbicides, weed seeds and excessive salt, but it sounds like ARC Gateway knows to avoid such pitfalls. What a great find!

I would say to add as much compost as you need to keep fertility and water retention moderately high - but how much is that? Probably grabbing a double-handful and guessing is the only way.

One thing can be said: you need drainage and aeration, ESPECIALLY in a large container with only one drain!

if the soil has become AT ALL heavy or dense, or tends to get water-logged AT ALL, or if the soil becomes too heavy before water runs out the bottom -

Improve your drainage and aeration.

Maybe I'm a nut about that, but I bet lots more container plants die from drowned roots than all other causes combined.

Now, while nothing is growing in the tank, is your only chance to amend the soil. Even if you have to shovel half of it out so you can amend the bottom half (the most important half), DO IT.

Would your tank benefit from improved drainage? I can't know because I can't push my hands into it, or watch water come rushing out the bottom seconds after I pour a few gallons in the top.

Imagine you were a college freshman locked into a telephone booth. That's like a plant with its roots in a container that drains slowly because the soil mix is fine and air channels have become clogged or were small to start with.

Now fill the phone booth to the roof with beer, and water the plant so the soil is nice and moist on the surface, damp below the surface, and drowned in the bottom 2/3 of the pot.

The freshman drinks the beer as fast as he can, hoping to create an air space to breath in before he drowns.

At the same time, the plant ... can't do anything. Its roots are underwater, and oxygen diffuses very SLOWLY through soil filled with water. It's like a kid chained to the very bottom of a swimming pool- if the air doesn't come to him, and he doesn't have a good set of gills, it's going to be bad for the kid.

The freshman drowns and the roots rot because they can't get their space free of water fast enoguh to prevent suffocation.

Running out of water and wilting is nothing. Add water - recover - all better.

Roots drowning or going hypoxic is bad: the roots rot and die. Maybe they try to grow back between waterings: then the die and rot again.

Fast drainage is a Good Thing.

If you pour water in and nothing comes out, that's because the water displaced air in the voids and channels in the soil mix. that doesn't sound too bad until, you remember that roots were getting their air through those voids and channels, like sipping air through a straw while hiding underwater. If the straw is too skinny, or fills with water, you don;6 get enough air.

When you dig into your tank, do you see lots of big, white healthy roots all the way down to the bottom?


If not, they were probably drowning and dying back after heavy waterings.
Or maybe not - I am obsessed with drainage!

(I guess a really big, deep tank with few plants would not fill to the bottom with roots because the plants had more soil than they needed. I've just never seen a container or raised bed like that!)

How much drainage-enhancer to adds depends on how well your soil drained last year, and how much it broke down over the course of the year. Anything organic breaks down, and the fines and colloids plug up the air gaps in soil and turn it into a root-drowning medium.

But you should be able to water and see water come out the bottom pretty quickly!

If you have to water it until the bottom is heavy mud, before water pours freely out the drain, it could benefit from improved drainage.

Grit is great.
Crushed rock is great.
Coarse Perlite is great (but perhaps expensive).
Very, very coarse sand is good. (These first four are permanent. They will improve drainage for centuries.)

Screened pine bark is great: 1/10" is a good size, but smaller bark fibers could help clay-ey soil.
But it breaks down over several years.

Coarse coir is OK, but how long does it last?

Peat moss is much too fine and breaks down much too fast.

Maybe [u]Sphagnum[/b] peat is better than fine brown peaty-dust, but I have yet to buy a bag of peat that did anything but hold too much water and then crumble into dust.

Vermiculite is bad: it crumbles at a touch and becomes fine powder that will sift into air channels and plug them tight. Avoid it.

All just my opinion. Plenty of people grow in containers without being ultra-paranoid about drainage.

But my theory is that they lucked into, or carefully chose, soil mixes that drain very well even after a few years of use. if they hadn't, they would be wondering why nothing grows any more.

Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Oct 2, 2015 6:43 AM CST
@RickCorey
You must live in the clay...
Down in Florida and where I live in the Sandhills ... It's all white sand...
The problem is getting containers to reabsorb water... after thoroughly drying out during the summer heat...
Around here...
Add water... It drains straight through w/o wetting the potting soil at all! Angry

I still question whether growing food in a galvanized metal container is a healthy choice...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 2, 2015 10:25 AM CST
Hi Stone

>> You must live in the clay...

Yup, all my life. I couldn't imagine there was any other kind of garden soil until I started reading about the weeping and wailing of people in Florida trying to get a drop of water to stay near their plants' roots for more than 30 seconds.

As a kid, the only garden-related task I was trusted to do was forking leaves and compost twice each year into the clay we tried to grow vegetables in. By the time I was a teenager, that soil was darn good.

I also grew up where spreading a couple of bags of lime every few years was as automatic as renewing your driver's license. OF COURSE our acid soil got more acid every year: doesn't everyone's?

Now I truly believe that some people have sandy soil, or even alkaline soil, without even living in Death Valley or on Mars.

There are many ways to improve clay and increase drainage. But sand? Ouch! Would it even help to add 20% clay, or would that wash right out of the top few feet and disappear below the root zone?

I heard once that even adding compost to sand was an uphill struggle. Even after amending, sandy soils are so well aerated that soil microbes digest compost faster in sand than in any other soil type. And in Florida (and maybe Georgia?) it is so warm so much of the year that the microbes work fast and hardly take any time off for winter vacation. You can shovel compost into sand as fast as your budget allows, but it's hard to get ahead of the decomposers. And not possible to stay very far ahead!

Let's invent cheap teleportation and swap a cubic mile of heavy clay for sand. If you add 30% clay to your sandy soil, and I add 40% sand to my clayey soil, we'll both be happier.

(I also have ideas for either deep turning or low-till soil loosening (like broadforking), when we get cheap anti-gravity invented. I hope someone's working on that!)
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Oct 2, 2015 10:48 AM CST
RickCorey said:
Let's invent cheap teleportation and swap a cubic mile of heavy clay for sand. If you add 30% clay to your sandy soil, and I add 40% sand to my clayey soil, we'll both be happier.

Wouldn't work.
They tell us that mixing clay and sand makes concrete.

All we can do in the south, (clay or sand) is add a thick layer of mulch on top of the garden after setting out our plants...

And in the sand... Can't grow stuff from seed... The voles eat the seed as quick as they're covered... Gotta start everything in pots... Corn, beans, melons... Gotta start it all in containers...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 2, 2015 3:05 PM CST
>> They tell us that mixing clay and sand makes concrete.

Stone, that is what almost everyone says, but I think it is too simplistic and puts the emphasis in the wrong place. This is just my opinion, I don't even claim that I read this "somewhere on the Internet".

"Adding sand to clay makes concrete"

First, reword it: "That clay is already like concrete. Adding sand makes it concrete with fine aggregate. Neither better nor worse for growing plants." And the problem is not with the sand, it is with the clay that was the starting point.

If we made that detailed enough to be more accurate, it would be:

Clay without sufficient compost is hopelessly dense.
It slumps and flows and elluviates / illuviates to fill any air channels.
It also turns rock-hard and shrinks when dry.

Adding sand or grit to clay without sufficient compost doesn't help much.

Once clay DOES have enough compost added to be half-decent, or even almost-enough compost to be half-decent, adding a lot of coarse sand and medium grit DOES improve it enough to be pretty-decent.

First and foremost, pure clay or very-heavy-clay-soil needs LOTS of compost added, like 30-50% compost.
If you only added 20-30% compost, then adding sand and grit DOES help a lot.

I've had that change make my "clay-compost-pudding" gritty enough and clod-forming-enough to let me fluff it and then compact it until it "crunches", leaving lots of air spaces between gritty clods. Those might slump and collapse over 12-18 months of rain, but I can get one season of pretty well-aerated soil until I have to add more compost and "fluff" it again. After a few years of growing in it and adding compost every year, roots seems to provide the rest of the needed soil structure.

Looking at the soil triangle, it's clear that any soil composition that has too much clay is improved by adding sand or silt, unless the clay is such a high % to start that adding insufficient sand or silt fails to move it OUT of the "clay" region.

I think THAT is the truth underlying the misleading claim that sand only tuns clay to concrete.
The clay was ALREADY like mortar.
Adding INSUFFICIENT compost and sand is insufficient to make the clay usable.
You HAVE TO add ENOUGH compost! That's the only way to change "unusable" to "usable".
Once you've done that much, then it also helps some to add more sand.

If your amendments don't improve the clay ENOUGH to make it loamy instead of clayey, then the mortar is still mortar. You can add sand, aggregate, grit, bark, or even rebar, but they don't convert the mortar into loam.

"Sand" is irrelevant until you add enough compost (or maybe silt) to amend the clay ("mortar") so it isn't as sticky and free-flowing as pudding or silicon sealant.

But once you add almost enough compost, adding sand and/or grit and/or screened bark becomes relevant. Those can improve "heavy clayey soil" or "very-heavy-clay-loam" to be sandy-clay-loam or even loam.

In my opinion. And I've seen this specific scenario often in my own yard.

Very heavy clay + not enough compost = really lame, marginal soil like runny pudding when wet and mortar when dry.

Add 15-20% coarse sand and grit (crushed rock) to that pudding, and suddenly you can make it sit up, clump and drain.





[Last edited by RickCorey - Oct 2, 2015 7:01 PM (+)]
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 2, 2015 8:40 PM CST
This is all very interesting and entertaining but I had to go back to the top to find out what the original purpose of the tread is.... Whistling

My two cents worth:
I am also wondering about the health of the soil in a galvanized stock tank? Jury is still out. I suppose if the interior were sealed or lined to prevent leaching I might be more comfortable with the idea. Shrug!

The soil where I live (south Georgia) is basically sand covered in oily stuff that leaked out of cars for several generations so I only garden in raised beds and containers; never in the native soil. I make my own soil mix and yes, sometimes add mushroom compost although I buy it in a bag retail so it's not the freshest.

The mixture I use is basically composted manure, sand, pine fines, my home made compost and a few handfuls of limestone. More limestone for the cole crops. If I come across some peat moss, coir, mushroom compost, perlite, vermiculite it gets added to the mix in no particular proportions.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 2, 2015 9:03 PM CST
On the subject of the metal stock tank that Debbie said she was using, are they all galvanized? Surely if they are safe for animals to drink water out of, they should be safe to grow veggies in?

I'm also pretty sure that "back in the day" a couple of my Dad's sailboats had galvanized water tanks for people to drink out of. If zinc is the issue, I think it's in some vitamins as a trace mineral, and I know it's in supplements for "eye health" like Ocuvite.

I really like reading Rick's posts when he gets going on soil science, and anti-gravity . . . Hmm, anti-gravity would be great for a lot of things besides gardening. Like keeping my face and other body parts from ahh, sagging? Big Grin
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 2, 2015 9:13 PM CST
There was a television program that talked about an anti-gravity material. (Get ready because this is a joke...)
It was on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and the material was called Upsidasium.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yI_rxu436c

*Blush* Sorry, I just couldn't resist. Whistling
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 3, 2015 10:20 AM CST
Yeah, that's what I want!

Further to the galvanizing safety thought, there are galvanized watering cans for sale all over the place. If they leach unsafe minerals, surely they would have been taken off the market?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Oct 5, 2015 7:56 AM CST
I remember upsydaisium...

Re clay with sand added...
I trudged through a number of plantations (Louisiana), where the crew planted pines in a soil type known locally as "gumbo".
Was supposed to be really good stuff... But rough to plant in..

I useta maintain a garden (in middle ga), in some heavy clay... Property owner found a barn where the horse owner added sand to his horse poop...
Gotta say that from my experience... The poop with the sand added did not help that heavy clay at all...
Seemed like the heavy clay produced better before the sand was added...
Also seemed like the usual poop that has the wood shavings and/or sawdust added did a far better job at soil conditioning...

You go ahead and import sand, if that's your ambition, but... I'd try a two garden test where one didn't get the sand, and see what a side by side test produced over time.
Name: Debbie Nobles
Pensacola, Fla (Zone 8b)
millerg54
Oct 5, 2015 8:23 AM CST
I will not be asking questions here again as no one has really helped. Thank you for your comments.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 5, 2015 12:32 PM CST
millerg54,
I respect you decision to not ask questions here again but beg to differ; we have tried to help and have offered tons of advice from our collective experience. In the past I have noticed that the quality of the answers depends in a large part on the information given in the original question. Here is what we had to work with:

1-fresh mushroom compost - That is self-explanatory so no problem there.

2- what mixture do I need to plant my fall veggies - The answer would depend on what veggies you want to plant, on your climate/water/etc., sun/shade/etc. so even the most well-meaning answers may not apply to your exact situation. You did provide your location as zone 8b Pensacola but not information as to the microclimate created by sun reflecting off buildings, excessive mid-day sun, etc.

3- metal stock tank from tractor supply. - That brought up a set of new questions and some saw the stock tank as a problem for various reasons.

In your second post you provided a bit of additional information:

4- compost is from ARC Gateway, a nursery run by a University of Fla grad....with beautiful organic plants.

Each of us did out best to answer by using the information provided. Sorry you did not appreciate our efforts. I wish you the best of luck with your veggies. Thumbs up Please come back and share photos of your veggie garden after it is planted. We love to see photos almost as much as we love to answer questions. Thumbs up

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 10, 2015 4:40 PM CST
She never told us what other components she had available to mix with the mushroom compost, which I think was the most important thing initially.

I agree totally, that she didn't give us enough info initially, but I do think we 'muddied the water' a bit, too.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Oct 10, 2015 9:56 PM CST
I counted 11 good answers, good details from experienced and concerned people (not counting the part about the upsidasium for which I did apologize). Lots of good answers given.

Some of us had voiced concern about the safety of the galvanzed stock tanks for growing food. The stock tanks were designed to hold water for animals to drink. If we add soil and plants there is also a chance that some folks may be using chemicla fertilizers. This all has an effect on the galvanized coating. Plain old water is fine in a stock tank, but creating a chemical cocktail could wear away at the coating...and the coating must have to go somewhere...into the soil? then into the plants? I'm not a scientist but I did find a link with some explanations of chemical fertilizer effects on the coating.
.pdf]http://tru.uni-sz.bg/tsj/vol3No7_1_files/Eker_2_1_[1].pdf
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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stone
Oct 12, 2015 7:52 AM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:totally, that she didn't give us enough info initially, but I do think we 'muddied the water' a bit, too.

Not sure that muddying the waters is a bad thing...

The thing about asking gardening questions... Is sometimes we learn more than we were expecting.
We can't expect the answers to fit the narrow parameters of the question... Gardening is a lot more complicated...

But... I also felt like the question woulda been more reasonable if she'd volunteered what potting medium she was mixing the compost with...
Not knowing whether she was using sand, or potting mix from Walmart.... Made the question impossible to give a direct answer to...

And... As has also been mentioned... What other fertilizers were being used...

The thing about gardening... Is that you've got to play it by ear... Listen to what the plants are telling you....
Every garden spot will be different, there's no one size fits all solution.

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