how aabout this Reptibark ...

terratoma(7a)May 3, 2013

It seems that many of you use Repti Bark in your gritty mix, so I'd like to ask your advice. Initially, I'm putting together a mix where all particle sizes_ Repti Bark, Turface and Gran-I-Grit (growers size)_ have been sifted to 1/4"-1/8". I've read that many gardeners sift the Turface using a 1/16" screen but, given my propensity for making a mess of things, it's safer for me to keep the particle sizes identical this first time around. Eventually, given the cost of Repti Bark, and the fact that 60% or so seems to be larger than 1/4", I'll soon begin using it right out of the bag. At that point, should I continue using the 1/8" screen for the Turface and grit? Or should I use 1/16" or some other size? Al, I believe, wrote that if two of the components were the same size and were smaller than the third component, the mix would adopt the drainage characteristics of the smaller particles. If the grit and Turface were the same size, would the mix adopt their characteristics, no matter the larger size of the Repti Bark? (Forgive and correct me if I have this wrong.)
Also, would someone tell me how "high" I should fill the planting containers with mix? The containers are 7 gallon, although 6.23 gallon is printed on the bottom. Am trying to get a better idea of how.much mix to prepare. (Am planting Japanese maples.)

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It is very important that you screen the Bark.
If the bark is large, the smaller particles will migrate between the bark and toward the bottom of the container, impeding drainage significantly. Uniformly distributed particles of similar size produce the best drainage.

I usually fill my containers to within an inch of the rim.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Good catch! Sorry for the omission. When I start using the Repti Bark "out of the bag", I should have said that I will continue screening it with a 1/8" screen. The only difference is that I won't be using the 1/4" screen, thereby allowing larger pieces of bark into the mix. (The pieces > 1/4" are the largest portion of each bag.) The bottom line is the bark will be 1/2"-1/8", while the grit and Turface will both be 1/4"-1/8". If this not a good idea, are there any other adjustments that I could make to allow the use of the larger pieces of bark?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 4:02PM
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I think this is a very good question. Given bark is often a bit big out of the bag for the gritty.

I agree with you Terratoma that Al has suggested that if at least 67% of the mix to be of a similar size then the whole mix will adopt those drainage characteristics.

On that basis I've done something very similar to what you have said. Used bark slightly larger but kept the other 2 ingredients bang on the correct dimensions.

Unfortunately my mix hasnt had long enough (a few weeks old) to provide any comments on how effective or otherwise it is.

Good luck.

You are certainly in the right place. Josh, Al and everyone else here are extremely helpful as you've noticed I'm sure!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:39AM
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hello mca9
I've read your postings on this site from last month and, you are right, we both have the same ideas (and the same questions) about the gritty mix. I hate to sound like a broken record but I'll eventually need to expand the size of the bark (for economy) and am unsure of the best particle size for the other two ingredients.(As you mentioned, those two need to be the same size.) Perhaps using 1/4"-1/16" would work and, if I understand correctly, the smaller size would increase water retention. I just want to provide the best possible conditions for the plants. Am still hoping others who have lots of experience with the larger bark will chime in with their recommendations for the size of the other two ingredients.
Have a good day.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 12:20PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

With larger bark, you're essentially moving away from a Gritty Mix to what I call a gritty 5-1-1 - which, most certainly, holds more moisture. I've used variations of bark and turface, bark and perlite and turface, bark and perlite and scoria (lava rock), bark and perlite and pumice, et cetera. These are different mixes, with different watering requirements. A lot of folks have had problems associated with larger bark.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 1:36PM
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Got your message ... thanks. Fortunately, I've already screened enough of the Repti Bark to 1/4" - 1/8" to use in the gritty mix for those five Jms. My thinking had been to use the leftover larger bark in future container plantings.
But if the large pieces of bark are going to create lots of problems, I may need to consider uncomposted pine bark. (I think that is what's recommended.) Most of the packaged pine I've seen doesn't indicate whether it is or isn't composted. The bag I did purchase (Jolly Gardener) lists its ingredients as "aged pine bark". It contains various sizes of bark, some fine textured material... and it's moist. Could the moistness or the "aged" in the name be an indication that it has been composted? If the label doesn't list the words "composted" or "uncomposted", are there other indicators I can employ to make a determination?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:00PM
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