In Praise of Sifting
I've been using the 5-1-1 mix and variations of it for the past four or five years and I've been relatively happy with my results. This year was the first year that I've taken the added step of seriously sifting the bark fines. In years past, I've screened through 1/2" hardware cloth to get rid of extra large chunks, but that was about it. This year, I've really focused on attaining a particle size in the sub 1/4" range. Well, I have to say this seemingly small difference in particle size makes an amazing difference in the overall texture of the soil.
I know this isn't "news," but for anyone who's resisted making the extra effort, I would highly recommend giving it a try.