gritty mix bark size question (w/picture)

irun5kJanuary 26, 2012

Hello All,

Today I purchased a couple bags of pine bark fines. I have a question on what to use and what to exclude.

In the picture below, the top material is the bark that passed though 1/4" hardware cloth but did not pass though 1/8" hardware cloth. I think this is ideal, and it compares well with the material on the right (fir reptile bark) which is what I used for my first batch.

However.... a LOT of material is going to waste. The material at the bottom of the photo is the stuff that fell though 1/8" hardware cloth, which I then sifted though fiberglass insect screen to remove the super fine dust type stuff. Material of this size represents the largest percentage of what is in the bag. If you were me, would you be comfortable including this material with the material at the top of the photo to make the gritty mix, or would you discard it?

As an aside, nothing is actually being "discarded", I'll use this for mulch or something. A 2cf bag was under $3 so my biggest concern isn't cost but merely the amount of effort it will take to get such a small amount of usable product if I decide to only use the material at the top of the photo.


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What are you combining the bark with - screened Turface & Grit, or something else? What size are the other particles?


    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 9:15PM
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Al, this will be combined with screened turface & crushed granite.

Either in a 1:1:1 or a 4:3:2 ratio as has been suggested over in the plumeria forum.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:17PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you want to use it, I would use a wick to help drain any excess water. The whole purpose of the gritty mix is to build a soil that holds it's water INSIDE of particles instead of between them. Reducing particle size creates a perched water table, so you almost might as well use the 5:1:1 mix. I'm offering that observation purely from a practical perspective.

If you do use a wick to help get the benefits from a fully drained soil, you can just remove the wick once the planting has matured & roots have colonized the soil mass. At that point, air will return to the whole soil mass quickly enough that the short duration of soggy soil won't likely have a significant effect.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Al, thank you for your comment. I decided not to use the finer material- in the end I decided there is no need to pollute my mix with substandard material.

This is what I ended up with from 2cf of material... the top is what is usable, the left is too coarse and right is too fine. It is amazing how little of the material turned out to be usable. However it is very hard to find around here. So I can buy this for $2.50 a bag and do a lot of work or pay $20 for a 1cf bag for reptile bark and still end up discarding a portion of it. I will keep looking to see if I can find something else but for now these are the two options I have available so far.

Thank you again.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 6:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

A lot of people would gladly take the leavin's for the 5:1:1 mix ..... ;-) Do you grow veggies or mixed display containers?


    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Hi Al, yes I have several things that might like the 5:1:1 mix. From what I've read, I would use 5 parts of the fine material (stuff that fell though 1/8" cloth?) If so, I assume I should still screen out the dust.

Is there any use for the more coarse stuff (> 1/4") in any container mixes? I've know seen it used in the nursery medium that bougainvilleas come in. As an aside, I actually think bougainvillea would love one of your mixes, but most folks claim their roots are extremely sensitive and recommend not disturbing them *at all*... so I've been reluctant to repot and remove old soil. But I digress..


    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 9:38PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

I don't know if this helps you, but I use the coarse bark for my epiphytes, mainly orchids and aroids. Bromeliads might appreciate it too. These mixes are all coarse material, though. If you tried to mix in finer particles like Turface, they may migrate to the bottom of the pot.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 10:16AM
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