I went on a planning trip to Low's today. I coveted the seed starting supplies, but resolved to use up the peat pellets I have left then to fill sliced paper towel rolls and newspaper pots with good potting soil.
I love, love, love the cute little peat pots, but it's so silly to pay money for new supplies while throwing perfectly usable materials in the trash and recycling bin.
I then took a trip to the greenhouse area to write down prices for the soil ingredients. I did find vermiculite before employees shooed me out so they could start stocking the greenhouse, and I was amazed to find that it was cheaper than the perlite! I snagged one bag and brought it home where my husband did some math in his head, a talent I lack. The vermiculite alone would cost over $30 for one 4x4 Square Foot Garden.
Oh my stars!
At best, I think it would end up costing something like $50 to fill the box with Mel's Mix. Peat moss is fairly cheap when you buy a huge hunk of it and compost isn't too bad, but the vermiculite or perlite is just killer! But the pre-mixed soil I normally buy is already peat moss, mushroom compost, and perlite, so our plans are now to use that and supplement it with a little vermiculite and another variety of compost. I also suspect we don't have to use as much soil since we're digging down before building up.
Sorry Mel, but I just can't justify coughing up $50 for your fancy mix when I can come up with a similar soil for more like to $15 and less labor. Maybe some day, when I'm a rich writer (haha!) instead of an unemployed educator, I'll give it a try and see if it's really all that much better.