I bought this at Lowe's for 4.24$/1.5 cu ft bag. I just opened a bag & the texture is that of dirt. Can I still use this? Or has it composted beyond usage in AGM?
Here's what it looks like out of the bag...
IMO I'd probably still use it. Some of the pieces look large and some look small as dust, which is ok. Just depends on how much water retention you want to determine how much peat you would add. The stuff looks pretty good to me. Maybe just add some perlite and lime and you're probably good to go.
I forgot to say that I'm assuming you are talking about the 511 mix. For the gritty mix you'd definitely have to sift it.
First time I've seen a bag that actually says "pine bark fines", LOL.
If you find the texture a bit too fine, I agree with above posters that if you are looking to do 5-1-1, you can reduce the peat component to compensate. One think you could do is add perlite and then put in a container and test water retention and drainage to see if it's acceptable. Make sure it drains well, but also stays moist without perched water.
yup. I was planning to make the 511. I sifted some today after it dried out a bit. Still looks very much the same & after I sifted 1 cup, I had 6 pieces of bark :(
Sounds good to me, I'll just add perlite & lime and call it a day. I'm going back to Home Depot & get me some regular ol' pine bark. Then....I'm gonna run it over with the jeep. XD Or maybe I'll pulse it in my rarely-ever-used, cheap as all get-out food processor.
As I've read someone post somewhere in the dizzying array of many postings on the sore subject of pine fines....since I'm sifting anyway, (shrug) I may as well make my own :) Somehow though I'm feeling like a Mai Tai should accompany this kind of work.
Thanks for the info!
You really don't have to screen bark for 5-1-1. It's more for gritty mix. I use some fairly coarse bark with no problems. And I even own a chipper, LOL. I just usually pick out the big sapwood chunks. I think too fine is worse then too coarse. If the bark is really coarse, I'll add extra peat. I've done it enough times now I know the texture I'm looking for. In your case, you could probably buy a coarser bark, and add the fines, perlite and lime you have and be done. I would avoid those huge uncomposted nuggets though that are often out there. Get something that is at least partially composted.
I'm kind of simultaneously looking for the right textured pine bark (cheap) for either 5-1-1 or 1-1-1 mix.
I'm really happy with the reg. gritty mix & will make the purchased pine fines work for the 5-1-1. While searching for a less expensive option for the gritty, I bought plain ol' pine nuggets from HD.
Today I got out a pair of white's nail clippers (for cats & small dogs) not for any particular reason, it's just what I had handy.
I sat down with 2 plastic shoe boxes, one with about 2 C of pine bark nuggets & the other empty. I put on a good show on the TV & got to snippin'.
Here's how I started out...
oops...pic didn't show...this should work
Annnd after about an hour, here's what I had...I think it's about the equivalent of a dry qt. It's tedious, kinda like shelling peas, but oddly restful at the same time, lol!
I have done that too...glad to see someone else. Things we do for our plants...
Your bark looks great. Rina
O Rina :) the whole time I'm doing this, I'm thinking 'I must really be over the line' . And I know what you mean, it's oddly comforting to know that I'm not alone.
I remember only last week reading a post where someone said they used scissors, and it made me roll my eyes. Now look at me. ha ha. But that was before I noticed the new growth on my newly potted up gritty mix plants. Sigh. Never say never.
Most satisfying is the fact that I paid less than 5$ for what will end up about 6 bajillion dry qts of DIY bark fines. I'm stickin' it to the Repti-Bark man :)
Ha, it was probably me about using the scissors - but it wasn't really scissors - it was something quite like these:
I also soaked my bark because it was the fir bark, which is a lot harder than the pine bark (that I plan on trying the "run over with my vehicle" trick).
forgot to say: It is oddly relaxing though, isn't it?
"It is oddly relaxing though, isn't it?"
omygosh yesss. :) how bizarre is that?! By the time I'd gotten through a couple of TV shows, I had a 1 gallon zip lock filled with just the right stuff. The really dry pieces were easier to cut, they just kinda crumbled to the right size.
I'm gonna run some over with the car today & see what happens. I kinda like this current method though as I can pick through & not bother with undesirable pieces.
Like that weird stringy stuff :P Seeing how well my plants are doing now, it's allll worth it!
This seems like as good a place as any to say - I found the right kind of bark!!!! I think. At Lowe's, labeled as soil conditioner. There was a partially open bag and it looked pretty much correct, straight out of the bag. Hurray!
Now to find coarse perlite, I'm not really sure where I'll be able to locate that.
I got my dolomitic lime. I have some peat moss. (I actually have perlite but it's MG and too small, most likely. I may be able to get a few usable pieces out of it.)
I got a large bag of course perlite at a hydroponics store.
^ Thanks, but I found a link to coarse perlite at HD, online. The shipping is only estimated at $2, so it's actually cheaper for me to have it shipped than to make a special trip to any nearby town that would have a hydroponics store. I will call the two feedstores and two hardware stores here in town but I'd bet that a) they won't have it, it'll be super expensive, and c) since my vehicle is still in the shop, my going anywhere requires a great deal of planning and necessity as my husband is on the run about 90% of the time in his truck.
The soil conditioner is SO much better than the bark I'd gotten before. Very, very few unusable pieces (though less for the gritty).
I sifted my MG perlite and got a tad under 1/2 gallon so I was able to make up a batch of the 5-1-1 using Al's formula in the OP of the soil threads.
Woot! I bought a $4 hanging basket of Gerbera Daisies yesterday on clearance at Lowe's and separated it out into four pots (3 large plants and one little one) using the 5-1-1. Since I've had luck with the Gerberas being sort of perennial (as long they aren't choked out by other plants), I figured it was probably an okay way to spend $4.
Just take regular pine bark, line it up and run it over with your car/truck tires about a dozen times.
Breaks it right on down.
Other than that I also found at a local Walmart of all places some "Schultz Orchid Mix" and the mix was nothing but perfect size pine bark fines with a bit of small charcoal and small ceramic or lava pieces.
It was only $3.74 a bag.
I think I may have found a product that looks almost too perfect to be true, right here on Long Island =) no less.
It's an Agway product & there's a distributor only a few miles from me. I called the nursery & spoke to someone who told me that they did not carry this particular product. I asked if they could order it for me & was told NO. :(
So I called Agway's corporate office in Maine & got a very nice lady who (long story short) convinced the nursery nearby to order a few bags for me!!!
If this product doesn't work for the mix, I really WILL run it over with the car. Repeatedly.
Here is a link that might be useful: agway pine mulch
^ Nice. It looks great. Better than my soil conditioner, which I've decided may have too many fines. :) Of course, sifting out some of the fines isn't a problem - and I can just dump them into my garden beds.
I actually used the Agway Pine Bark Mulch this year for my first attempt at the 511. Couple of lessons I learned from this experience is to absolutely use a CRF like Osmacote Plus
as a starter charge of fertilizer. Also, there is quite a bit of sapwood in the bag which I did not remove and resulted in Nitrogen lock out for my plants which did not do well at the start of the season.
Are you not going to use the Lowes Mulch? I was thinking about picking up a few bags from the Brooklyn store this weekend to try out.
IMO the Agway Pine Bark Mulch is the best stuff out there. It's a little more expensive, but comes in 3cu ft bags. It's almost too perfect because there is no very fine stuff, just a very uniform size. I have to use extra peat ot get the water retention I need. I saw NO sapwood in mine and the quality control is teriffic. I can get it without traveling too far, but I can also get a decent pine bark mulch locally. Enjoy! I agree about using a CRF in the mix also.
Thanks for your prospective, though it seems I may still be on the hunt. Funny how a hunt can get a-hold of you & stoke a person to persist =) I've got me Osmocote, perlite, fines, garden lime....all dressed up, nowhere to go, ha ha.
It turns out that the manager at the local nursery (big nursery) refused to order the bark mulch for me. She told Agway corporate that she would but when I talked to her, she acted like she didn't know what was going on, eyeroll.
They had a hellacious storm over there a couple of days ago and they were hit pretty hard. I can only imagine that they've got bigger problems than I right now. I thought I was a woman on the edge until I talked with that nursery manager. Whatever, I'm still bummed :(
I'm going to Greenvale in Hicksville, Agway corporate office said that they ordered some of this earlier this year. I'll go look at that this Saturday, I need chkn grit anyway.
I'm fixing to cut down & overwinter about a dozen pepper plants as well as transitioning my ever growing houseplant collection.
The pine fines at lowe's (in Carle Place, by Roosevelt Field) will be perfect for 511, and at I'll keep ya posted friends.
I rolled snake eyes :(
Not only did the feed store not have it, but when I asked if they could order it, the Agway website indicated they'd have to call for availability. It doesn't look good friends.
I ran over a small amt of regular pine nuggets with the car. This produced various sized pieces of bark, lots of sifting to be done here. It is what it is. Shrug. Still searching :)
Ah, I'm sorry. Good luck to you!
My perlite came in last evening but I didn't do anything with it today (because I had to take the kids to karate and go to the thrift store nearby, then organize my finds and drill some holes - this evening I decided to ride instead of doing anything with plants). Tomorrow morning I plan to mix up some more 5-1-1 with what I've already sifted and fill up some pots. I might get around to starting on the sifting for the other bag of soil conditioner but I'm not sure if I'll have time.
I might try the running over the left over large bark pieces from the mulch I'd bought.
^ Tomorrow morning is here. I managed to dump the pine bark and perlite into my "mixing bowl" and got rained out.
I'm sitting inside listening to the heavy rain (which I appreciate but would have preferred to come later today), wondering if this is a sign that I ought to clean my house instead of messing with plants.
I wish I had a garage or garden shed where I could be working right now! Housecleaning just doesn't have the same appeal.
(I hope that the plastic cover on my snapdragon seedlings, they popped up yesterday, hasn't blown off. This is a heck of a rain!)
harried mom, your day sounds alot like mine! House cleaning does NOT have the same appeal as playing in gritty mix, I agree whole heartedly!
Good news for me! the feed store that we get our grani-grit from will have the Agway pine mulch pictured above in 2 weeks. It'll be just in time to get my mix ready for pulling in my hot peppers for the winter, yay. I hope my bags will be as good quality as edweather's!
I moved alot of my houseplants into the gritty mix I made previously, so I'm all out & have nothing much to play with until I get the Agway bark. I suppose it's just as well, I'm gonna go take a ride to the thrift store to see what I can find =)
Check out my wee little pepper plant. It's only about 8" tall & has been thriving in the gritty mix & put on nice deep green little leaves after adding CRF & a weak weekly dose of MG. The leaves starting to yellow is what let me know I was missing something. It's even got wee tiny peppers!
I love this mix. The plants seem to respond within days & I can respond with changes just as quick if there's something they don't like.
I finally got the stupid agway bark mulch. Screening is hard work. I'm too tired to go find a dime 8) bear with me. The shoe box on the left is what didn't fall through 1/2" and the middle box is what didn't fall through a regular kitchen sieve and the final box is what fell through the sieve.
So the center one is what I'll be using for my gritty mix. What can I do with my fines? It's the texture of sawdust. I figured I could use the larger pieces to mulch my container plants in the 511 next season. There's a bit of sap wood in there but I'll just pick through it as I go.
It pretty much worked out even, 1/3 large pieces, 1/3 ideal pieces for gritty & 1/3 fines. Guess I know what I'm doing this weekend =)
I am bringing this oldie but goodie back because I have a question. Dan / nycgarden said above: "Couple of lessons I learned [in the process of making the 511 mix] is to absolutely use a CRF like Osmacote Plus". Edweather agreed.
Now that Osmocote Plus is not available anymore (except wholesale from a few vendors), and Foliage-Pro is considered the best, I personally skipped CRF and will just do fertigation. I wanted to avoid doubling up, the uncertainty connected with CRFs (we do not know how much is really released because environment varies) and just to keep it simple.
Do you have other ideas with what's available out there to buy?
Also, anyone bought the Agway PBFs recently? I wonder how they look next to a dime this year.
I used a combo of Miracle gro organic slow release fert. (instead of Osmocote) and Espoma Gardentone for my CRF. Trying to go a bit more organic this year. I'm using Neptunes Fish emulsion for weekly water based fert.
I used Agway PBF this year right out of the bag. I don't have a picture since I've mixed it all up. My buddy got 50 bags and the quality looked exactly the same as mine. My experience has been consistently good quality for 2 years now from those PBF bags from Aqway. They look like the middle picture in the post that is 2 up from this one.
Hope that helps,
Really really really jealous that you guise have a bag easily available and labeled PBF. I've been all over towns nearby and have zilch. guess i have to shell out for the repi-bark. =/
Dan, thanks for the reply. I am going to see how Foliage-Pro is going to work alone. I am a little nervous having that as the only plant food and nothing in the soil itself, but it's supposedly the most complete thing available now.
Lnorigb, what is your zip code? I'll see if I have ideas for you.
Hi There, I couldn't find anything remotely close to what I wanted in bark fines. I did try running over a couple of bags. In the end, I used hemlock mulch with pro-mix bx, perlite, lime and a CRF. In addition I have been fertilizing with a MG liquid 12-4-8 ( I think) once a week. Everything is growing, I'm nervous because I have not ever used the 511 mix before. ProMix also makes an ultimate organic mix that I might use for one more plant. I spent more time looking for pine bark fines than it was worth. Might try the orchid mix next year or the reptile mix. Or just stick with Pro-Mix.