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after some thinning and repotting, here’s this season’s gourd roster: two pumpkins (first and second from bottom left) and six red kuri squash. I love them so much

there's more vermiculite in these than I'd normally bother using (I usually don't use any tbh), but my homemade compost is frozen solid, the garden center doesn't have the good stuff in yet, and the only potting compost I was able to find has just astonishingly poor drainage.

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ruminating on compost 

what's funny is that the compost with poor drainage that I got is probably considered "good" compost. it was certainly more expensive than what I normally get. there seems to be a widespread belief that the ideal compost consists of the tiniest possible bits, 100% humified, nothing recognizably woody whatsoever, and if you can't manage to make that happen by thermophilic processes, you should at least sift it.

this has been the opposite of my experience? the good stuff I mentioned is chunkier with little woody and fibrous bits. it's cheaper AND it works better; I grew lots of lovely veg with it last year without having to mix with anything. why make or buy "perfect" compost, only to have to buy other stuff like vermiculite, coconut fiber, peat, etc just to give it the drainage and root anchorage that the "imperfect" stuff already has?

I mean, there are reasons, but none relevant to anything I've done so far, and yet doing it this way is sometimes seen as default

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ruminating on compost 

@Sig that is bizarre. do they mix it with anything? I've only grown plants professionally so I don't know much about the garden scene, but that just sounds awful for almost every case I ran in to.

re: ruminating on compost 

@mell yeah I think the idea is to mix with something like vermiculite and coconut coir or peat moss. this mostly pertains to starting seedlings in trays or pots before planting out; I think the fear is that germinating seeds are less likely to find a foothold in coarse uneven compost so it's better to have more precise control over consistency and whatnot. but I really don't think that's the case, I used cheap coarse compost for everything last year and it all germinated fine.

I think there's also a competitiveness thing with composting? like the more thermophilic activity you can get, and the more completely all materials convert to humus, the more you're Good At Composting.

re: ruminating on compost 

@Sig oh ok that tracks a lot better. we used very fine substrate for our seed plugs. I think it was mostly just the same peat we put in our potting mix. but we needed ridiculously high success rates because good seeds are expensive and the difference between like 98% and 99.5% over millions of plugs is a whole lot of money. they might be taking techniques used at scale and thinking the difference matters for them too

for cuttings we basically just added perlite I think.

re: ruminating on compost 

@mell ah yeah that's exactly it I think. the math shakes out a lot different for home gardeners, seeds are almost an afterthought compared to how much time/money we spend making/buying enough stuff to grow them in. plus you probably got some kinda bulk discount on substrates I assume, whereas that stuff is pricey in garden stores.

re: ruminating on compost 

@Sig yeah for some of the stuff we grew a tiny vial of seeds cost over double what I made in a month.

and yeah I wish I had a picture to show you but we imported peat from some bog in russia on pallets that were 12 feet high and we lined a 600-foot section of wall 3 pallets deep at the beginning of every year and went through every bit of it. and we definitely took that same stuff and bagged it with our normal fixins and sold it at criminal prices.

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