I was just wondering if anyone has used E.B. Stone's fine or medium orchard bark to make the gritty or 5-1-1 mix. If so, how is it working out for you?
I have a bag of the "fine" bark in the trunk of my car right now...haven't unloaded yet. I'll screen some tomorrow and see how it performs. It doesn't look composted, but I think it could be used in the 5-1-1.
It costs $9 for a bag, so I hope there isn't much waste.
Awesome! I'll be checking in for an update. Thanks!
I haven't forgotten...just haven't had time to screen yet.
Well, I'm back...still trying to figure out the new photobucket format.....
E.B. Stone "fine" Orchid Bark is a nice product, but it is not cost-effective for mixing large batches of 5-1-1 (or Gritty Mix). I recommend the Greenall Micro Bark, which is the same fir bark, but in twice the volume and for the same price. Greenall is just a different packaging for E.B. Stone.
That said, for the 5-1-1, most of the material will pass through a 1/2 inch screen. However, a lot of these pieces are narrow but long, and so you'll need to manually remove the pieces that "spear" through the screen longwise. Also, I notice a good deal of sapwood ("matchsticks"), and that, too, must be sorted out by hand. The sapwood is well under 10 percent, but I find it visually jarring in a nice planting.
The product under review:
A piece of 1/2-inch hardware cloth over a large pond-basket for collecting screened material. My plastic nursery plant-carrier with 1/4-inch grid sitting to the left.
A couple handfuls of bark on the 1/4-inch screen:
And the pieces that did not pass the 1/4-inch screen:
HI Josh, I know this is an old thread, but wanted to ask you some questions. I hope you can help me. I live in Southern California and I 'm trying to prepare Gritty Mix.
1. Is Greenall Micro Bark the best product you've found?
2. Approximately, how much percentage of the bag would end up being usable for the Gritty Mix?
3. What kind of screens would I have to use to achieve the size I need?
Thank you so much in advance.
I don't know/remember how much of the bag is useable, but it's enough to be worth the trouble. For Gritty Screening, you'll want a 1/4 inch screen and a 1/16 or 1/8 inch screen.
The Greenall Microbark will work OK for Gritty. It does seem to be the same material as EB Stone Small Orchid Mix at lower cost. The best I've found is Professional Gardeners Seedling Orchid Mix but I can't find it anywhere nearby. The lower amount of waste wouldn't pay to make the trip to get it. Seems amazing since it is a Kellogg Garden product, who is 10 miles from me.
I save the larger material and use it for topping pots and planters. In my hot/dry inland SoCal climate, I'm no longer screening out the dust as I want something that holds a bit more water than Gritty Mix. I do eliminate much of the dust by mixing back and forth between buckets in the afternoon breeze.
Yes, Greenall remains my preferred bark - larger volume, lower cost, minimal sapwood. When using Greenall for 5-1-1, virtually all of the material is useable - if not for the mix directly, then certainly as mulching material as Greg affirmed.