Made a big mistake with 5-1-1 and need some help/advice!

captiveroots(6A)April 24, 2013

I think I made a mistake yesterday while playing with my potting soil (bet you don't hear that often!)

I decided to amend my soil from last year at a 50/50 ratio with new. Then I thought "why not try the 5-1-1 mix?" for the new 50%. I found a nice bag of perlite at home depot, a nice bale of spagnum, and what I thought was some good pine mulch. I spent a couple of hours mixing everything up at a roughly 50/50 ratio.

The problem is the pine mulch. I couldn't find exactly what is called for (the fines) so I got the smallest shreds I could find. I thought I had done my research (I certainly read the long thread on here) but I apparently had not done enough, because it turns out the stuff I got has a lot of sapwood in it (see the picture).

After reading about N being tied up by sapwood chunks, I am now worried that I ruined all of my potting mix with this pine mulch. Is there anything I can do so salvage it, or should I just find some way to get rid of a good 100 gallons of mix and start over?

I was thinking of running the mix through a screen to take out all of the pulp chunks over 1/2 inch, but that would still leave some behind. Could I get away with fertilizing a bit more and just top the containers off with a bagged potting soil? I'm hoping a saving grace is that the containers are filled with 50% old potting soil from last year.

Any tips would be appreciated! Sometimes mistakes are the best education!

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Here is a photo of the resulting mix

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:43AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

The mix actually doesn't look too bad except for a bit of sap wood. I'd give it a shot. Do you have a seedling you could try in it? You'll know real quick if it will grow.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 2:59PM
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I might try some herbs or some broccoli seedlings... maybe I'm being a bit paranoid!

I do plan on screening out all of the sapwood that I can just to be safe. Hopefully that (along with plenty of good fertilizer) will mitigate most of the issue.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Well, I posted a very long blog post about my mistakes making the 5-1-1 mix and how it all turned out. In the end, after sifting out all the big chunks, I actually ended up with something that looks a lot like Miracle Grow, so it should at least work well enough with some TLC!

Here is a link that might be useful: blog post on the 5-1-1 project

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 2:12AM
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dragonfly717(z10 Fort Myers)

great blog! I loved reading. Laughed and felt your pain. I have bags of bark, turface, etc etc sitting in my garage. I'm afraid to start. :) thanks for sharing


    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 2:24PM
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Thanks Jamie! I'm one of those people who seems to learn by making these types of mistakes, but I hope I can save someone else from investing the time and energy using the wrong kind of pine!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 11:06AM
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