Searching out Pine Bark Fines
Well, the season is almost upon us and, judging from numerous plaintive cries in past year's posts, the annual hunt for pine bark fines will soon begin (if it hasn't already).
There are plenty of discussions on this forum, complete with photos, on just what pine bark fines are and what variations will work. Many thanks to tapla and others for their tireless information and education!
So in this thread, let's just cut to the chase: What's your location and what have you found for pine bark fines? I'll kick it off:
Southern ME, Portland area. Last year I searched the usual suspects: big box, Agway/Aubuchon/etc, garden centers. Pretty much got the 'deer in the headlites' look most everywhere. I did find Fafard's "Nursery Mix" at Griffen Greenhouse Supply in Gray. It has pine bark, peat moss and dolomitic lime in pretty much the recommended ratios - just needs some perlite added. But at $17 for 2.8 cu ft, it was too pricey given the quantities I needed. You can check Fafard's website for your local dealers.
I finally settled on Timberline Pine Mulch (in a purple bag) from Home D. Walmart also said they carried it, but didn't have any in stock. I put this product through a 1/2" screen, then a 1/4" screen. The resulting 5:1:1 mix was better than my 2011 attempts, and results were notably better. In fact, over the past five years, as I have learned and progressed with soil-less mixes, my annuals (such as tomatoes/peppers) have gone from "ho-hum/so-so" to "get the heck out of the way, we're coming through!"
I also purchased an additional dozen bags of the Timberline last summer and stacked them in my barn to use this spring (for a bit of damp aging). Based on further info posted recently (thanks Al!), this year I'll just screen to 1/2" and reduce the peat moss. All the >1/2" screenings are used around the property, so it's a win-win. HD can't say yet if they'll have the Timberline again this year but the department manager did say it has been a regular product, so we'll have to wait and see. Also - this year I want to go back to O'Donal's Nursery in Gorham. They have some bulk and bagged products that might also work.
That's my 2 cents worth. As products and brands vary around the country, if you've found something that works in your area please chip in!