5-1-1 Question for Al, with pictures

capitalistbabyMarch 29, 2012

Hi Al, (or anyone else who knows)

I'm attempting to make your 5-1-1 mix and have read somewhere here that you recommended Fafard Aged Pine Bark. I asked my local nursery and they were able to get me Fafard Soil Conditioner, which states it's made from 100% Aged Pine Bark. If you could check out the pics below and tell me if this is the right stuff? The color of the bark in the 3rd picture is altered to show particles (otherwise it was too black).

Thanks in advance!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I've used Fafard's 'Aged Pine Bark' for the 5:1:1, and found it too fine/water-retentive. It came in a 3 cu ft bag, so I don't know if the product is the same as what you show in your pics. If you decide to use it, I would probably skip the peat and use 5:3, pine bark:perlite.

Al

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 8:06AM
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capitalistbaby

Thank you so much Al for your time and advice. Is it true that this pine bark will only last one season? Will it really disintegrate after one growing year and turn to mush? What about unused bags of this stuff sitting in the garage for a year (if I bought more than I needed), will it also quickly compost into too fine a particle?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 1:49PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Honestly - it looks liker it will be really water-retentive as is (mushy), even at 50/50 with perlite. I agree that the advanced state of decomposition would almost certainly limit the soils usefulness to one growth cycle, if that.

This isn't to say you wouldn't be able to bring along healthy plants in it with careful attention to watering and fertilizing. You can, it just isn't as easy, and when soils support lots of perched water, their limiting effects are inherent. The two reasons that growers appreciate well-aerated soils like the 5:1:1 and gritty mixes are, the soils are very forgiving - greatly increasing the grower's margin for error, and they provide an excellent environ for roots - one that ensures the opportunity for plants to grow at or very near their genetic potential, within the limiting effects of other cultural factors. In essence, what I just said is that in many cases, your soil choice is the most limiting factor to your plants. When you use the 5:1:1 or gritty mix, it's very unlikely that the soil would be the most significant limiting factor. It's possible that some OTHER factor might raise its head to spoil the party, but it's unlikely to be your soil choice.

In your case, the fine particles of pine bark might as well be peat because they're going to be very water-retentive. You'll need to figure out a strategy to deal with/reduce the water retention if you're to avoid the negative consequences of that physical characteristic. Since you're already going to the effort of making your own soil, the easy way to do that would be to find a more suitable bark product - easiest in theory ...... application might be a different story (if you can't find the bark).

Al

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 1:28PM
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capitalistbaby

Thank you again Al, your explanations are very very helpful to a newbie like myself.

Here is my second attempt at finding the pine bark fines. Pictures are below. If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could you please let me know if this will be suitable, or if it's still too small of a particle size. Thanks so much!



    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 3:21PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

That bark is excellent!
It would even work, cleaned up a little, for Gritty Mix.

Josh

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:39PM
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queensinfo

What is the source of that bark (in case it is helpful to some others with difficulty finding bark)?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:53PM
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