Newbie's 5-1-1 experience and questions.
Yesterday I loaded up the car with enough goodies to make my first batches of the 5-1-1 container mix. Finding decent pine bark was tricky. I went to several stores and had my list of brands that were mentioned on here to reference. Luckily I have a ton of stores to choose from very nearby. I found the same mulch to be VERY variable from store to store. For example the Golden Trophy 302 pine bark mulch at Home Depot was almost like a bag of compost or peat, it was so fine and decomposed. At another store it was 2" chunks. Most brands seemed to be very large chunks of just bark, or large shredded bark and wood together. I never saw any that said they were fines or soil conditioner. I ended up spending a bit extra and getting some of the 2cf Mid-America pine bark mulch at a garden center for $5/bag which looked about right. Next time I hope to find some bags that will work for closer to $3.50 a bag.
My question is about the recipe. It says 5 parts bark, 1 part peat, 1 part perlite. For the large batch it says 5 gallons peat, 5 gallons perlite, and 2 to 3 cf of bark. I used a 5 gallon buck for my measurements and found each 2 cf bag of bark to have about 12.5 gallons in it. So I used 2 2cf bags for the batch to make it 25 gallons and keep with the 5-1-1 ratio. Just wondering if I am not understanding something?? It made quite a lot of mix. I made two large batches and used about one and a half batches to fill up my two half whiskey barrels, and I still have a half batch leftover to use elsewhere.
I also used 2 cups of lime as called for in the large batch, but is that enough lime for the 25 gallons of bark I ended up using. I bought Mayville lawn and garden lime which is pulverized. It says the calcium carbonate equivalent is at least 102% with a neutralizing index of 80-89, and 22% calcium with 12% magnesium. There wasn't much info on the bag, it was just a plain brown paper bag. I had to look it up online to see if it was okay to use.
It looks like great mix so far to me. Eventhough I paid more than I wanted to for my perlite and bark I still came out a lot cheaper per cubic foot than having to buy even a super cheap commercial peat based mix for my whiskey barrels. I got enough of everything but the bark to make 5 large batches total. Now I can keep my eye out for cheaper bark in the future for my next batches.