Tapla - Is fully composted bark ok for the 5-1-1 mix?

organic_wonderfulMarch 17, 2011

I tried posting this with the image in my 'please critique my potting mix' thread, but it wasn't working, so sorry about having to open a new thread.

Anyway, if you're reading this, tapla, I just received my composted bark through the post. After taking a look at it (take a look at the photo by visiting the photobucket link below), it look like it might be too 'fine', as it's fully and not partially composted. So, I was wondering if you can tell me if this is still okay to use? I really hope I haven't wasted all that money for nothing!

Thanks in advance!

http://i1103.photobucket.com/albums/g462/jonnyautoenfield/SDC10758.jpg

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organic_wonderful

Figured out how to post images now!

[img]http://i1103.photobucket.com/albums/g462/jonnyautoenfield/SDC10758.jpg[/img]

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:17AM
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calistoga_al

My computer is unable to open your address as listed.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:27AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

I would screen the fine stuff out and then use just one part of the fine stuff left behind to 5 parts bark if any at all..:-)
It looks like that it will be way to water retentive if you don't.
Just my observation.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:29AM
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organic_wonderful

^ What sized screen should/riddle can I use, Tapla?

Oh and can someone tell me how I can post photos? I looked but couldn't find instructions.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:34AM
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organic_wonderful

Sorry, I meant to say -

What size screen/riddle can I use, Tapla?

I wish I could edit my posts!.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:36AM
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jodik_gw

In order to post photos within the body of a post, you need to copy/paste the HTML code provided by Photobucket for the picture in question.

PhotoBucket has been undergoing a lot of changes to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, and the cell phone/media revolution, it seems... and though some folks say it's less complicated, I think it's gotten more complicated.

To make a long story short, while in your photo album, click on the picture you want to post, then copy the HTML coding provided at the side of the page, come back here and paste it into the body of your message. When you preview your message, the photo should appear.

You can edit your messages here as many times as you want... unless you click "submit message". Once you submit a message, it's out of your hands. But you can correct and edit any number of times by using the "preview message" button.

My personal opinion is... the bark shown is too composted for my uses. It looks way too fine, too moisture retentive, and decomp is too far along. But I'm thinking in terms of smaller pots containing houseplants in the gritty mix... so it might work for other uses.

Actually, it looks very close to what passes for bagged soils at the local store. Personally, I wouldn't use it in a container.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 9:16AM
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organic_wonderful

Right, so I can't sieve it then. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to keep looking for bark fines.

I just don't know where I'm going to find the right stuff.

When you say you're thinking of smaller containers using the gritty mix, I'm actually going to be growing tomatoes in the 5-1-1 mix, so does that change anything?

Are you sure I can't just sieve it and use the coarser less decomposed bark fines for this purpose?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 9:31AM
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organic_wonderful

Here's what it looks like when it's sieved. I don't know about you, but it kind of looks okay to use. What do you think?

Thanks for being so patient with me! I really appreciate this!

http://i1103.photobucket.com/albums/g462/jonnyautoenfield/SDC10760.jpg

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 9:37AM
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organic_wonderful

Tapla, actually I think you're right. By the time I sieve the 70L bag, I'll have hardly anything left!

So, since I can't actually find the partially composted bark fines I'm actually looking for, could I perhaps substitute it with something ele?

Would something like this work (cocoa shells) -

http://www.organiccatalogue.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=630

I seem to remember you saying they could be a substitute, but I can't find that thread.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:09AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

That isn't fully composted - it's 'double ground' & should be fine for your containers. I would just go light on the peat or withhold it altogether, just adding perlite and lime.

Al

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:19AM
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organic_wonderful

Grrr, it keeps not doing what I want it to do! Sorry I'm not really used to this style of forum, so my apologies for the repeat posting. I'll try and prevent it from happening in future!

Anyway, what I wanted to say in the above post is that after a bit of digging I've found a supplier of 'orchid bark', however I'm not sure which would be better - the course or the fine bark. Perhaps this would be a better alternative?

Coarse - http://www.easyorchids.co.uk/shop/Orchid-Bark-75-LTR-COARSE.html

Fine - http://www.easyorchids.co.uk/shop/Orchid-Bark-75-LTR-FINE.html

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:22AM
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organic_wonderful

Sorry, I'm a bit confused (probably my fault). You said before that-

'My personal opinion is... the bark shown is too composted for my uses. It looks way too fine, too moisture retentive, and decomp is too far along. But I'm thinking in terms of smaller pots containing houseplants in the gritty mix... so it might work for other uses.'

And then you said it isn't fully composted. Or were you referring to the cocoa shells?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:26AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Organic W...
I believe the post you just quoted, saying it looks way too fine is what Jodi said.
not Al/tapla.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:32AM
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organic_wonderful

LOL. Sorry I'm getting confused.

Lets start again.

If I were to buy this fine grade bark, would it be okay?

http://s298312835.e-shop.info/shop/article_07.001/Fine-Grade-Orchid-Bark.html?shop_param=cid%3D23%26aid%3D07.001%26

Or would this medium grade bark be better?

http://s298312835.e-shop.info/shop/article_08.001/Medium-Grade-Orchid-Bark.html?shop_param=cid%3D23%26aid%3D08.001%26

I know they're not composted, but to be honest I'll be lookng forever otherwise. I was thinking I would just up the N, like Tapla suggested before.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 10:44AM
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jodik_gw

The contents of the "after screening" photo doesn't even remotely resemble the contents of the first photo! In my opinion, that is. I'd use what you have there, in the after screening photo... and I'd dump the screened out fines on the garden. Keep in mind the approximate particle size we're going after, and the concept of what we're trying to achieve.

The fir bark product I use probably comes in too small of a quantity for your uses... I only mix small batches at a time for my indoor plants, most of which are in pots no larger than 12", and many in pots much smaller. I grow tender amaryllids (bulbs), and a few orchids and assorted plants.

If I were going to mix the 511 or gritty medium for use in large outdoor containers, for growing annual plants, I'd be purchasing fir bark in much larger bulk quantities, and I'd most likely be forced to screen it in order to remove the fines and any larger pieces. I haven't had to do this yet, so I don't know what the percentage of loss is, or would be.

I think it's all going to depend on what's available to you, logistically speaking. I have access to Oak Hill Gardens in northern Illinois, an orchid grower/greenhouse that uses a lot of fir bark in the mediums they employ. They sell various grades of the bark, I'm sure... probably in coarse to fine grades. I haven't made the trip yet to find out, but Al tells me that I can get a nice bark product from them, perfect for my uses.

Sometimes, finding the right ingredients for our use is a challenge. And you won't find much help forthcoming from the gardening industry... sales clerks and store personnel have no idea what "pine bark fines" even are, so they have no idea where to send you. You'll get more blank stares, more questions instead of answers, and you're pretty much on your own... except for the great support group here! :-)

The orchid website your photos are coming from is in the UK, I believe... where are you located??

If you're in the UK, this might help... I'm including a link to a website on bonsai in the UK. About halfway down the page you'll notice two links to click... one talks about Bonsai Soils, and the other talks about using various items, such as cat litters, for ingredient substitutions. The website helped me a lot in determining exactly what people were talking about in bark sizes, building soils, drainage, proper watering technique... there's a lot of information within the site, and it might help you locate what you need!

I don't want to confuse you... but I do want to help you get a better picture of what it is we're looking for, and give you various ideas of where you might find the ingredients you need. Orchid growers, bonsai growers, mulch companies, reptile bedding, etc...

I use a product from ZooMed called ReptiBark. It's 100% fir bark used for reptile bedding. It only comes in smaller quantities than you probably need, and it would not be cost effective if you needed larger amounts. I pay about $5 for a small bag, 4 dry quarts. It's all I need, though.

Personally, I wouldn't use cocoa hulls, any cocopeat or coir items, and I absolutely would stay away from cedar or cypress products. I'd keep looking for pine bark/fir bark products. You'll find everything you need... trust me. It just may take you a little bit of time.

The keys are going to be... understanding the concept of the grittier mediums, and learning what attributes each ingredient brings to the mix. Once you get a feel for the "how it works" and "why it works", it will all come together for you, I promise.

And... we're all here, ready to answer questions and help in any way we can.

I have a bad habit of rambling... so if you need me to repeat anything, please don't hesitate to ask. :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Bonsai Basics

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 11:53AM
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organic_wonderful

^ Thank you so much for your help.

After some consideration (and a lot of Googling), I think I'm going to go for this fir bark:

http://www.easyorchids.co.uk/shop/Orchid-Bark-15-LTR-COARSE.html

Especially since they sell it in smaller quantities at a lower price. From what I can see in the photo, it looks all right.

From what I've read, even if the bark is a little coarse, this shouldn't be a problem as all I would need to do is add a little more peat moss (and have a 5-2-1 mix instead of a 5-1-1 mix).

Does that sound all right?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 12:24PM
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organic_wonderful

Oh, and thank you for the link. I'll read through the info more thoroughly later as I think it could be very useful!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 12:26PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Organic, I'd go with the 'fine' grade Orchid Bark, personally.

Otherwise, I'd do what Al suggested....use the first product, and omit the peat moss.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 4:36PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Just remember that adding more fines is going to increase your chances for more water retention, and I hate to say, the big possibility of fungus gnats.

If you live in an area where it rains quite a bit, or plan on growing plants brought indoors, then I would reconsider doing a 5.2.1. Just my personal experience.

Good luck

Jodi has expressed everything to the tee. I couldn't agree with her more! Thanks Jodi

Mike

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 5:04PM
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jodik_gw

Generally speaking, orchid bark in a coarse grade would be too large for our purposes. A medium grade or fine grade would be better, I think.

And keep in mind that unless there's something included in a photo to help give you perspective on size, like a ruler or a coin, you really can't make an accurate determination.

This is what a handful of my Gritty Mix rendition looks like...

These are the ingredients I use to build my Gritty Mix... from top left, moving clockwise... turface, perlite, fir bark, and granite chips... there's a quarter in the picture for size reference...

This is a Sans, potted in my rendition of the Gritty Mix... the pot is about an 8" unglazed terra cotta pot...

Quite honestly, I think if you go with a coarse grade of orchid bark, it's going to be too big to suit your purposes. Remember, orchids are epiphytes, for the most part, and really only need the bark for support of the plant, to keep it in the pot. So, a coarse grade would be large chunks. A fine grade may be a bit small. A medium grade would be just about perfect, if you can get it... but regardless which grade you choose, you're still going to have to screen it.

Don't be too impatient, and end up with the wrong things. Take a little time to research, look around, learn... you'll be glad you did.

I'll bet I reread Al's original article at least 6 times before it finally began to sink in... and I frequently go back and read again to refresh my memory. I also check and re-check the recipes... to be sure I don't get them mixed up.

Thanks, Mike... just trying to be helpful. :-) I know how it was when I first began! It's very helpful to have a variety of people who use the mixes show the ingredients they use, and describe their experiences.

All I'm saying is... weigh your options carefully, and don't be in too big of a hurry. It pays to be patient, and make sure you get the right items.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 6:23PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, Jodi ;-)
Not to muddy the waters further, but even the 'fine' grade Orchid Bark (that I've seen) isn't quite fine enough....
not even for the 5-1-1, and certainly not for the Gritty Mix proper. For the 5-1-1, you'd want to remove the largest of the particles, and for the Gritty, you'd want to remove both the largest and the finest particles.

It definitely pays to be patient and to assemble the right ingredients....and when a suitable bark is procured,
buy as much of it as possible!

Josh

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 7:57PM
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jodik_gw

That's what I was thinking, too, Josh... when I do locate the right bulk bark, I'm gonna grab as much as I can afford right off the bat... just in case. I've seen batches vary, and it's consistency we want. I wonder how comical that will look... a little Ford Escort wagon, loaded to the gills with bags of bark! ;-)

I think we have to take into consideration that there's no exact standard for size when it comes to bark/mulch products the world over. Plus, every commercial/retail outlet or grower can use a different mix, different sized bark, etc...

The best way to handle it, if you possibly can, is to personally go there and check out the bark for yourself. I realize that's not always possible, but it's nice when you can see it and hold it in your hand before spending money on it!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 9:48AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Quite funny Jodik!!lololol

That with the Dogs head hanging out of the windows drooling on a joy ride in a car full of bark..lolol I can see it!

Josh: Great points made!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 11:43AM
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organic_wonderful

Thanks for the help guy.

I'm a bit confused, if I want to screen out the smallest and the largest bark fragments, what two sized sieves should I use?

I'm going to try the fine grade bark first.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:25PM
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jujustad(7B-8A)

Hi,
I have collected bags of fir Bark Mulch - 0 to 3/8" -very small chunks with a lot of fines and Small Bark - 3/8" to 3/4" chunks for making up 5:1:1. Does anyone have an opinion as to which would be better? Or...does anyone know if there are pics on the forum of an optimal bark size for the 5:1:1?
Thanks!
Julie

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:38PM
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organic_wonderful

^ don't you use the same size bark for the gritty mx as the 5-1-1 (like shown in the photo above in this thread)?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:45PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Organic, for the 5-1-1:
use a 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch sieve to screen out the largest particles.

The Gritty Mix is slightly more refined:
use insect screen (1/16 inch) to remove the finest particles,
and use a 1/4 inch screen to remove the largest particles.
For the Gritty Mix, you want to remove the fine bark dust.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:55PM
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organic_wonderful

Oh, I see, so for the 511 mix you don't bother sieving out the finer particles with a fine sieve. I get it now.

I am still curious though, after the photo of that plant was posted by jodik. Tapla said the gritty mix was for 'woody' plants that stay in their container for a number of years. That doesn't look very lignified, so I'm assuming it's in the gritty mix rather than the 511 mix because it's staying in the medium for a number of years instead of just a short period of time?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 7:11PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Organic, the Gritty Mix holds less moisture than the 5-1-1, so it's excellent for houseplants and bulbs
that might spend time indoors, especially during cold Winters when containers don't dry out as readily.

The finer particles in the 5-1-1 help retain moisture for plants growing outdoors, particularly during the
warm Summer months/growing season when moisture demands are higher.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 8:07PM
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jodik_gw

The Gritty Mix doesn't contain peat, so it's a little more durable and longer lasting than the 511. I like to think in terms of using the Gritty Mix for houseplants, or plants that will stay in the same mix for 2-3 years, perhaps... and the 511 would be more for growing shorter term plantings, like tomatoes or annuals, etc. Or... another way to look at it is... the 511 is more for outdoor use, and the Gritty Mix is more for indoor use, the two environments being what they are.

The 511 is more moisture retentive than the Gritty Mix. It's designed more for a single season in an outdoor environment... whereas the Gritty Mix dries out faster, and is designed more for an indoor environment where plants will be kept in the same medium for at least 1-2 years before re-potting... possibly even longer.

However... it's the concept of a more durable, free/fast draining medium that's most important to understand. And if we understand what attributes each ingredient brings to the mix we're using, we could easily interchange ingredients, or change ratios of ingredients to suit our individual purposes or environments or plants... like I do.

Until you've become familiar with using the mediums, though, I would stick with the recommended recipes and ratios. There is a little adjustment you will need to make in watering... you are in total control of moisture and nutritional needs... which is a good thing. But until you're familiar with what you're doing, I would definitely use the recipes as written.

I grow all my bulbs and houseplants in the Gritty Mix. I do make slight adjustments to the ratio of ingredients, or the screening, to suit my own needs, my environment being what it is. For example, you can see some smaller particles in some of my photos... and that's because I've adjusted the moisture retention for that pot/plant by leaving some smaller particles in that batch. If I need more moisture to stay for a bit longer, I might even throw a handful of regular bagged potting soil into a batch. Normally, though, I just use more turface than granite and perlite... turface holds more moisture.

Keep in mind, though, that I've been doing this for a long time. I know what I need for each plant type, and how it relates to my environment, which is different than anyone else's. Don't let what I do confuse you. Learn to use the recipes as written before you start tweaking them.

Josh is correct... I needed a medium that would dry out faster than the average bagged soil. My bulbs were suffering, their roots going through bouts of death and regeneration due to the total saturation of the soil, and how long it stayed wet. They were suffocating from lack of oxygen, and drowning in all that moisture. They were literally rotting. I needed a medium that would perform as a medium should. The Gritty Mix gives me exactly what I need... lots of aeration, moisture I can better control, faster drying time... my bulbs love it!

The trick, it seems, is to locate the ingredients with which to build the mediums. Once you've got everything, and you've got the concept, you're on your way! :-)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 7:43AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

OW - I tend to use the 5:1:1 mix for all my short term plantings. Those would be the display containers I put together each spring & turn into the compost pile in the fall. Veggies also fall into that category. I use the gritty mix for all my houseplants, including cacti & succulents, and all other plant material I'd be likely to have in the same soil for more than a single season, which includes all the trees & shrubs I grow on as future bonsai.

Al

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 9:26AM
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organic_wonderful

I understand, thanks.

Can I ask though, hypothetically if you could grow a tomato plant as a bonsai plant (not sure if this is possible), for a number of years, would I be right in saying that although it's a vegetable, it would be better in the gritty mix?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 12:05AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes - I would say that's true - it's what I would do, anyway. I've grown lots of plants similar in structure to tomatoes as bonsai - Coleus, snapdragon, Impatiens, artillery plant (Pilea) ..... others, all in the gritty mix.

So far, in the thousands of different plants I've grown, I've really only found one plant that seems to prefer the 5:1:1 mix over the gritty mix, and I have no idea why that might be true. The plant is Scilla violacia or leopard lily. Everything else I've had in the gritty mix has always done noticeably better than in the 5:1:1 mix or other heavier soils.

Al

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 10:42AM
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jodik_gw

Thank you, Al! You've just inadvertently answered a question and solved an issue that's been plaguing me for a while, now! I have a pot of Ledebouria that's not doing as well as I'd like, and I've got it in the Gritty Mix. I think it may require a re-potting using a slightly different mix. :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 11:55AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

They like a little more water than most succulents. :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 12:07PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Today I picked up half a yard of double ground pine bark similar to the photo up thread. I wish it wasn't quite so fine, but my strategy is to elimate the peat, and use 2 parts perlite to 5 parts bark. I'm also going to try the drainage experiment that Al suggested to Julie in the "Sphagnum peat in 5:1:1" thread, using a sample of the mix in a 12 oz. cup, just to make sure it's draining properly.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 5:36PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's so cool to see you guys understanding the concepts of aeration/drainage/PWTs and putting things together to make it work for you. It's not only the knowledge that you're acquiring that will quickly propel you ahead of those stuck in a rut, but your take charge way of approaching an issue ranks right up there as one of your most valuable assets.

There is precious little in the field of horticulture that hasn't changed dramatically in the last 20 years - even in the last 10 years. Long held beliefs and methods have been scrapped and disproved, replaced with sound scientific reasoning and practices; and that's not a brash or unusual statement by any stretch. It's a good bet that if your approach to growing hasn't changed dramatically in the last 10-20 years, there is a TON of room for improvement. We need only look at the advances in the sciences related to things like medicine, air travel, automobiles, communications ..... to see that there is very little that remains untouched by the passing of time. When someone points out that people have been growing in peat-based soils for 100 years with no problems (debatable), I muse to myself that the same people were also utilizing horses or shank's mare as the premier mode of transport 100 years ago - equally absent problems; yet, we seem to have abandoned equine transport and the telegraph in favor of automobiles, planes and email.

Once again I'll tip my hat to those here who have set themselves toward improving their skills and there effort:reward ratio. It's fun to be around and visiting with you guys!

Al

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 9:20PM
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organic_wonderful

I would actually say the bark I got today (sorry the other post was mean to go in here, doh!), looks pretty similar to the bark shown as an example above by jodiq.

What do you guys think?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 9:46PM
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organic_wonderful

I'll just use it and hope for the best.

Hope this works!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 3:26PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It was late last night & I went back up the thread to try to determine which soil you were making. By it's appearance in the pic, and unless there is a considerable additional fraction of fines (for use in the 5:1:1 mix) not seen in the pic, it looks to be too large for either soil.

Al

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 4:32PM
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organic_wonderful

^ you mean the bark in the new photo i.e. this one below, is too large?

If so I feel like I'm just about ready to give up as I've exhausted all my options. To me it looks pretty similar to the bark in the photo you posted, but I guess I must be wrong.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 5:30PM
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organic_wonderful

Sorry I must sound like a broken record. I'm just so keen to get the ball rolling but I really don't know how I'm going to get what I need. I feel frustrated after I wasted all the money on the bark for the second time only to find that it's too big.

pooh.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 5:49PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi OW,
Sometimes it's hard to tell from a picture. Can you get another picture taken with a handful scattered Just a tiny bit above a tape measure so we can see the size a little better? Your coin looks different than what were used to also, so that makes it a little hard to tell.

Don't worry, it will come together. :-)

JoJo

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 7:56PM
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organic_wonderful

Sorry, here it is:

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:03PM
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organic_wonderful

I'll try and get a photo with a ruler if I can find one.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:04PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Organic, sieve some of that bark and see how it looks.

At the moment, the particles are large - and you'll want to remove the yellow colored sapwood...
which I refer to as "matchsticks." You want to keep the percentage of sapwood low in your mix.

The bark you have is almost suitable for the 5-1-1.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:58PM
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ykerzner(9 TX)

Per one of your posts from last Friday, organic_wonderful, you may have to sieve the bark for the 5:1:1 depending on what percentage of it is smaller than 1/8" (30 mm). I sift large bags of pine bark mulch to get the fines needed, and on a good day 50 % of what goes through the 1/4" screen will be 1/16"-sized. That's too much for the 5:1:1 mix and the first shrub I potted in it had to be repotted in something more like 5:1 (bark:perlite) after it nearly died because the mix never dried out. (Then again it was winter.)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 11:08PM
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organic_wonderful

Can someone just confirm for me, should I be using a 1/4" sieve?

I'm confused as people seem to be recommending different sizes?

I really hope someone is able to answer this for me. Thanks, OW.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 4:08PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi OW~
I'm so sorry this has been missed! I can't belive we didn't see your question.

Here is a quote of Al from another thread..

""Best: For the 5:1:1 mix, fine is dust to dime-size. ""

Yes, you can use 1/4" and I think some have even used 1/2" but not positive on that. A dime is about a 1/2". At least ours.

Hopefully now that this is bumped back up to the top Al will see it and correct me if i'm wrong. :)

I have used 1/4" with great results, and 1/2".

JoJo

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 11:19PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Organic,
I think JoJo is correct:
You can use a 1/4 inch sieve or a 1/2 inch sieve for the 5-1-1 mix (to screen the bark).
If you go with the 1/2 inch, you'll have a lot more material to work with.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 9:47AM
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organic_wonderful

Thanks guys. I've got a riddle that's approximately 8mm in size, so I'll try that today. I'll try and start a grow diary to compare the results to commercial (control) media, such as the John Arthur Bowers Multipurpose compost with added John Innes, since I know for a fact that this compost has been shown to give consistently good results here in the UK. If the 5-1-1 mix works better than this medium then I will know it's worth using.

I just wish there was somewhere on this site I could post a grow diary. Oh well.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 10:11PM
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organic_wonderful

Okay, here's a photo of what the new bark looks like when put through a 1/4" riddle (I've discarded what didn't go through). Can you tell me if it looks usable?

Hopefully I've finally sorted it now! I'd really appreciate it if you guys could give me the thumbs up.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 6:02AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It looks GREAT, but you can use a larger mesh screen (12 mm). Good luck. You're going to limit the additional fine particulates to less than 1/6 of the o/a mix (for best results)?

Al

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 9:10AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

It looks Good! Just like what i'm using! :-) I spent a good part of my night sifting. Be sure and remember to share pictures later of your plants. ;-)
JoJo

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 9:29AM
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jodik_gw

I never really thought about it before... but for our friends from other areas of the globe, it might be nice to have a conversion chart from standard to metric... for screen sizes, bark sizes, etc...

I'm probably not the best person to convert it, though... being so terrible at math and numbers! ;-)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:41AM
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organic_wonderful

You have no idea how happy and relieved I am that you've given it the okay!

Thanks you guys!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:14PM
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jbackman(8)

Sorry to hi-jack your thread OW, but I thought that since I'm in UK as well we could share resources (and I could get some feedback).

I bought Melcourt Composted Fine Bark off eBay for �3.99 for 75 litres.

Here it is "raw": (sorry for the crap picture quality, only had my mobile phone camera)

And here it is after sifting out the "dust":

And here is the "dust":

Comments? Usable? Should I or should I not add peat (or part of the "dust")?

BTW, first time posting so THANK YOU to all who share their knowledge here and especially Al (tapla) who not only knows a great deal but know how to write and explain things in a fantastic way.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:31PM
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filix

I have used both 1/2 and 1/4". They both seem to work fine. Lately I have been useing 1/4 to screen, I think the 1/2" is just a tad on the large size. But if you make the 511 and don't add the peat, that may change the amount of dolomite lime you add? Al?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 4:00PM
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organic_wonderful

jbackman I'm not an expert but it still looks to large.

If you decide to buy more, I got my bark from easyorchids.co.uk (it was the fine bark, not the coarse). It was fairly reasonably priced, so I would recommend it.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 2:50PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Ok. I hate to ask this, but where are you all getting your screens those sizes and what do they look like? Are they plastic or fencing material like chicken wire? Thank you!

I ask because a few on my friends need to know, and by the way, nice looking bark!:-0)

Great work

Mike

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 4:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Jback - the larger fraction looks pretty good for the gritty, & you prolly could have used the original 'as is' for the 5:1:1.

Al

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 4:39PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I just bought some screen at Lowe's. It's called Hardware Cloth, and comes in rolls of various widths and lengths. There is the plastic (pvc) kind and the galvanized wire kind. I got the galvanized. Two common sizes are 1/4" and 1/2". I would say you could get it at most big box stores or hardware stores.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 6:29PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Some feed stores carry Hardware cloth too. It's popular for bird/poultry cages.

JoJo

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 7:03PM
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jbackman(8)

Thanks for the answers.

OW, I was looking at the bark from easyorchids but I don't think they mentioned the size, so I didn't dare to get some. But now that I've seen yours and what it looks like it seems like a good one.

Al, that's great to hear, would you still add peat if I were using it as is or just add perlite?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 7:21PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Thanks everyone. I have never used these cloths myself since I use Bonsai sifting trays for my gritty mix and nothing for my 5.1.1 mix. I appreciate it.

By the way Jojo, I am not sure if you are getting my e-mails, but someone at the citrus forum was asking your help.

Take care

Mike

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 7:24PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's hard to say, Bjack. I was thinking about that when I posted before & couldn't get a good enough sense of the o/a texture to say one way or the other.

Mike - hardware cloth isn't really cloth. It's wire mesh, similar to what your bonsai screens are made of.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of hdwe cloth

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 9:34PM
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kathycakes

Hi Everyone - I notice there hasn't been any posts here for a year so hope Al, Josh, or any of the rest of you tremendously educated and experienced 5-1-1ers are still monitoring it. Even after reading all the above posts twice, I'm still somewhat confused, I guess because of the different "size" examples. I am currently sifting pine mulch (not composted) through a bug screen to remove probably 85-90% of the "dust." I'm then screening the results of that through a 1/2" screen and removing any "threads" or other large yet skinny sticks. Does this sound right, or should I be leaving in more of the dust for the 5-1-1? Thanks as always! Kathy

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:03PM
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