can i use the pine bark from the home depot or is that too course. is there a better solution to the pine bark. can i use something else. they said there is one pine bark from the pet store but it is too expensive. please help.
I'm using the aged pine bark mulch made by Jolly Gardner I found at a local nursery.
we dont have a jolly gardner here. just a home depot or lowes. i live here in central texas
There used to be a landscapers mix available at the big box stores that was essentially perfect for 5:1:1. The company that makes it (Hope-Agri products) has retooled their product line recently. They now package multiple sizes of "pine bark mulch" instead. One of the sizes will work for 5:1:1, though its not perfect. I believe its labeled as "fine" pine bark mulch. The brand is "Hapi-gro", but the company "Hope-Agri products" is listed underneath.
Scotchman's Choice is another Hope-Agri products brand, so don't get confused by that.
Austin has a lot of good independent nurseries. Call them up and ask about where they get the raw materials for their potting mix (it's virtually guaranteed that they're using the equivalent of pine bark fines as the main ingredient).
If you have a truck, you can also call around to the different bulk mulch/soil providers and see if any of them sell finely ground pine bark. They may call it one of many different things, such as pine bark compost or pine bark regrind.
Make sure it is *ground* and not *shredded* pine bark. Also make sure it is pine *bark* and not just *pine*. The latter includes lots of lightly colored sapwood that will decay too fast and cause nitrogen problems.
One other alternative that is maybe a little too course for 5:1:1 but is still workable - is Orchiata Pine bark from an orchid supply store. It's a little expensive, but not as bad as the fir bark from the pet store. Relatively new product from new zealand.
Btw, I've only found the good pine bark mulch at Lowes. I tried to use the Natures Helper Soil Conditioner that Home Depot sells... and it was pretty disastrous, for various reasons that I didn't understand at the time. I love Nature's Helper as a mulch and soil conditioner though.