that has the same consistency, texture as peat, would you buy that instead of the peat?
would you expect to get the same benefits as with the peat?
would you expect to pay the same price for it as the peat?
Fafard, in addition to a few mixes that are similar to the 5:1:1 mix, makes a product called 'Aged Pine Bark'. It is finely ground and a little coarser than peat, but it is very expensive. I think I bought several bags of it at Telly's in Detroit for about $12/3cu ft a few years back, and I did use it as the primary fraction in a couple of batches of soil. For my taste, it's too fine to be used as the primary fraction of the 5:1:1 mix, and too expensive to be used as a substitute for peat.
You might find a less expensive product. There is no chemical reason you need peat or can't use all bark - it's all about ensuring you get the right water retention and a minimal amount of perched water. Soggy regions in your containers inhibit root function, so keeping the volume of saturated soil and the duration for which that soil is saturated are both worthy goals.
there is a mill nearby that grinds the pine bark. they don't offer a finely ground bark that would have the same consistency as peat but if they could, at a good bulk price, i'd like to try using that instead of peat for any mix that calls for peat.
Go for it .....
When you screen your pine bark, save the stuff that passes through the insect screen. That stuff is a perfectly acceptable replacement for peat. You paid for it, you may as well use it!!!!
For an even more durable 5-1-1, replace the peat with turface!
The options are endless. Don't think of these mixes as exact recipes, they are blueprints and can be modified in many different ways! The most important think is to try to understand what each ingredient does, not what it is. Have fun with it!