View Full Version : Problem finding soil

04-09-2009, 10:22 PM
Hello everyone. I went to my local Lowes and Walmart to look for the components to make Mel's mix. I found the peat moss, but everyone was out of the cow manure compost and the vermiculite. As a matter of fact, the guy at Walmart had never heard of vermiculite. Are there any substitutions you can use to make the mix as close as possible to what Mel makes?
In my first box, I went loosely with the Mel's mix. By that, I mean I used some vermiculite, a very small bag, some peat moss, cow manure, and filled in the box with some top soil. The top soil was a lot cheaper than doubling up on all the other components. In this new box, I would like to adhere to the letter of the Mels mix formula.
Thanks for any help. I am going to call around to a couple of smaller home centers in the area tomorrow, maybe I will have better luck,

04-10-2009, 11:59 AM
When calling around, don't be afraid to ask who their supplier is for that. Then call them if the nursery can't help. I got a screaming deal that way.

04-10-2009, 12:15 PM
It is fairly easy to find cow manure compost if you go to Craigslist or Freecycle-- if you have those in your area. Somewhere within 20 miles of you is a rancher or dairyman who has cow manure that he'll give you for free. Take buckets. ;)

I couldn't find vermiculite either, and I was remodeling, so I looked up using gypsum wallboard (Sheetrock) and found several articles that said it was very GOOD for your compost to add gypsum wallboard. We ended up having so much scrap when we remodeled that I offered it on Craigslist for free. Since then I have noticed others giving it away-- so check CL for that too, or put up a "Wanted" post on CL. The purpose of the vermiculite is to increase the water retention of the soil, I think-- I could be wrong. Anyhow. We put the gypsum in a 55 gallon trash barrel (peeling off the paper as much as we could and putting it in the paper recycle bin). Then we used a sledge hammer as a ram, smashing the gypsum into small pieces, and then worked it into the soil in a wheelbarrow.

I found that the gypsum really helps my compost tremendously- with a family of 9 our "green" component was so high that we had an acrid smell. The gypsum is a "brown" and makes our compost so much better, and cuts the smell.

04-10-2009, 09:30 PM
Call around to greenhouses. My local, family owned one uses the vermiculite to start seedlings. They sell the 4cu ft bag for $24.95 (up from $19.95 last year). In my 4'x24' bed I used one bag as this was all I could afford. It worked really good at keeping the soil from compacting too much. I also did not have a lot of money for peat so only used the same amount...way much less then the Mel's mix but it worked out good. Kim

04-11-2009, 02:43 PM
Thanks for the replies.I called around today and nobody had the vermiculite. I found one place that had an 8 quart bag and it was $7. I will look into the craiglist thing. We are pretty small around here and I think the closest would be an hour away, but I will look. Really pretty here today and I was looking forward to starting the second box, but when I got home from work I have a 3 year old running a fever. He is so pitiful when he is sick, breaks my heart. He isi just like me-milking it for all he has:)

04-14-2009, 10:16 PM
You can also use perlite as well.