Anyone using bark-only soil mixes?
Hello all. I wanted to share some thoughts on possible container soil experiments and would appreciate hearing what other GW members think about this.
In addition to the pine bark/DE soil mixes I current am testing with my small white spruce seedlings, with good results BTW, I'm also thinking of testing three possible variations of pine/fir bark ONLY soil mixes (with dolomitic lime and a CRF added to each soil of course). If these soils would work then that means using only one ingredient to make a soil: pine or fir bark. Possible? Of course. Practical? We'll that's why I'm asking for input.
Soil #1 would be pine/fir bark screened with a 1/2" hardware cloth and would be similar to the 5-1-1 mix, except without the perlite and peat. This soil would consist of pine/fir bark 1/2" and smaller, down to very fine dust, so it would retain a considerable amount of water. Depending on the bark used the amount of fine material in this mix could change considerably. This soil could be used for any plants, trees, or shrubs that like higher amounts of moisture. This soil would last at least one growing season, but probably not much more than that.
Soil #2 would be pine/fir bark screened through both 1/2" and 1/8" hardware cloth. The bulk of the soil mix would consist of pine/fir bark between those two sizes, with small amounts of the retained fine (1/8" and smaller) material added to increase soil moisture as needed, depending on what plants are being grown in it. Again, similar to the 5-1-1 but without the perlite and peat, and the amount of find material changing depending on plant usage. This soil might last two growing seasons.
Soil #3 would be pine/fir bark screened through both 1/2" and 1/8" hardware cloth, with everything under 1/8" removed. The soil would consist of bark between 1/8" and 1/2" only. This mix should last two seasons and could be used for any plants that like very well drained soils.
Most likely I would experiment with these next growing season since it's already August and there would not be time to test plants this late in the growing season and get any meaningful results.
I'm not suggesting bark-only soil mixes are a valid alternative to the excellent gritty and 5-1-1 mixes used by many people here, just a slightly different approach worthy of a few experiments.
Any thoughts, comments, or suggestions?