Newly Registered
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Mel's mix vs. this local veggie mix?


I'm in Oakland, Ca, and about to fill my first two "square foot garden"-ish containers. I was planning on using Mels' Mix, but there's a local soil supply that has a mix called "Local Hero Veggie Mix," which contains:

Sandy Loam, WonderGrow Organic Compost, Rice Hulls, Chicken Manure, Grape Compost, Fir Bark, Cocoa Bean Hulls.

Does anyone have some advice on which to pick? I've heard that there are some issues with peet moss. They also sell coconut coir as an alternative to peet moss. (I did post this in my intro, but a moderator suggested that I start a separate thread, so sorry if you've had to read this twice.)

Thanks for any advice,


Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I think this is close to what I wrote elsewhere: the local mix is a good one in theory, but if any dogs (or cats) are likely to investigate your Square Foot Gardening beds, think again about using something with cocoa bean hulls in it.

Cocoa bean hulls smell like chocolate, and they have sufficient amounts of theobromine in them to poison dogs. I don't have a direct link to the source, but Alpha Pet Supply, in Albany, has a flyer with info on dogs dying *every year* b/c of cocoa bean hulls used as mulch and ingredients in mixes. Even the bags of 100% hulls DO NOT LABEL for the toxicity. :x Dogs, being omnivores, will likely investigate/consume the planting mix in an effort to find out what's in it. Cats are less likely to go after it, but may ingest some if they sun themselves or lie down and then groom themselves and ingest it that way.

Since I was yet to be educated about peat moss, I believed Mel and used it in Raised Bed #1. What a mistake! Don't do it! :x The coconut coir will be much better in every possible way: environmentally, frustration-wise, and plant-friendliness. (Rants available elsewhere on THG. :lol: )

American Soil & Rock, on Jacuzzi Street near I-80 and Central, has a good planting mix. I don't know whether it contains cocoa bean hulls, though....and I absolutely *love* their grape-pomace compost; I used it in all five of my SFGs/raised beds in 2008! :D

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Green Thumb
Posts: 590
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:19 pm
Location: Pacific NW

If you can get it 4-way or even 3-way works pretty well. I have also used mushroom compost and even once just my own compost. All work reasonably well for a couple of years and then they need augmentation. It is a matter of cost, availability and preference.

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