Is my bark too fine?

krismast(6 S.E. PA)May 9, 2012

This is the bark that I sifted for the gritty mix. I sifted out the larger pieces with 1/4 inch hardware cloth then sifted what fell through with insect screen to get rid of the dust particles. But I feel like it is too fine. I think it would hold too much water?

Kristopher

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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

That's the desired range, trust it. I'd be more concerned with the percentage of sapwood that you've got there - especially if that photo paints an accurate picture of the overall composition of your material. You want to get as much of that out as possible. Unfortunatly, this can be a daunting task, make no mistake about it. Forget about the real little guys, they won't make much of a difference either way, but you probably should pick over your material to remove as many of those "matchstick" pieces as possible.

PJ

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 12:29PM
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krismast(6 S.E. PA)

Thanks for the response. Today I sat down and attempted to pick through most of the sapwood and it took me an hour alone to get a small around down to a decent percentage. This is disappointing for me and I guess I will have to continue my search for a decent mulch. At this rate it would take me weeks to pick through all the mulch. Now I just wish I hadn't bought four bags of the stuff thinking it was good quality for what I needed.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 5:10PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Al (tapla) has said that you can live with up to 10% sapwood. If you are wanting to grow something like a bonsai in a small container, then you need to remove all the larger sapwood pieces. But if you are growing something like a tropical plant in a container that is one gallon or larger, I don't think you need to be so particular. Especially if it makes you so discouraged you give up. I used bark that looked a lot like yours in gritty mix for plumerias, clivias, ficuses, and more starting a year ago, and they are all doing great.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:11PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Krismast,
Ohio is absolutley right. I was not intending to discourage you, by all means DO NOT GIVE UP!! I should have been more clear on what an acceptable proportion is. Don't make yourself crazy, if you don't want to pick it over at all...don't. I suggested it because, based on the photo, I looks like your a bit heavy on the sapwood, and it would be beneficial to remove some, not all, just some.

Please take this advice: Don't fall into the trap, as so many do, that your very first batch has to be absolutly perfect. Even a poorly made 5-1-1 will outperform anything you've used in the past. Do what you can with what you have and go with it! Aim to optimize over time, not perfect right away. Your mix will evolve and improve with you, as you grow and learn. And trust me, almost no bark is perfect, most of us have to make due with what we can find. By all means, use up that bark...it looks fine!! You will soon learn that just about every bag of bark you open will be different, even when its the same brand on the same pallet. You next bag might have virtually no sapwood in it....it's not that big of a deal, be happy - and get to planting!!

PJ

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 9:29AM
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krismast(6 S.E. PA)

Ok thanks everybody! I feel better about this now, I'll just pick out the larger pieces of sapwood. Couple more questions about the gritty mix though. Do I need to rinse any of the ingredients? Should I moisten the mix before I pot up? Also, I'm guessing that any plant I put in the gritty mix should be as bare rooted as possible?

Thanks!

Kristopher

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 10:40AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

If you screen the turface using insect screen, I don't think you need to rinse it or any other ingredient, although you can. I do make sure my mix is thoroughly wet before planting. The bark can be a bit hydrophobic (water repellent) if you don't get it wet to start with. And, yes, it's best to bare root the plant you put in gritty mix. This is best done when the plant is growing well, in most cases.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 8:06PM
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