pine fines?

njitgradOctober 16, 2013

I really want to make a 5-1-1 mix for my containers next season but am still not clear on the ingredients. The perlite and the peat are easy to find. But how can I easily identify a bag of "pine fines" at the local garden centers in suburban NJ? I have yet to see a bag that says "Pine Fines."

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njitgrad

Is it recommended to just buy bags of pine bark mulch and let it age somewhere on your property?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

No. Not recommended. Finding the right "fines" for some of us is tougher than Frodo returning the ring to Mordor.

You need to find pine, fir or hemlock bark (not wood) all under the size of a dime with a large % of the pieces in the bag being 1/8" - 1/4".

Search "5-1-1" in this forum until you come across posts with pictures of the ideal bark fines.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 3:27PM
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njitgrad

Oh, man. I really really don't feel like hunting for this stuff. I've seen pics and videos of it. Why can't someone just bag the stuff and sell it at the local stores. I'm sure they'd make a killing.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Try this place:

Here is a link that might be useful: Agway

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 4:28PM
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maple_grove_gw

Agreed, Agway brand "Pine bark mulch" is readily availably around NJ and well suited for 5 1 1. Most other brands "pine bark mulch" you find at local big box centers are trash, mostly sapwood.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

It goes under different names in different parts of the country: decorative mulch, soil conditioner, pine mini-nuggets. You just have to look at the stuff and try to see what's in the bag. Read the label, and make sure it says pine bark somewhere. In the spring in the Midwest, I often find torn bags of pine bark mulch at big box stores and hardware stores that have been sitting out all winter and composted enough that they will do.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 6:25PM
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njitgrad

I stopped in Fairfield Garden Center today and found a pallet with some left over pine mulch. I managed to scoop out a handful for a photo and this is what it looked like. It is good enough? If so, would now be a good time to start making my potting mix for next season?

I plan to use this mix for my tulip bulbs (that just arrived) which will be planted lasagna style. Other uses for this mix will be my fabric pots in which I will be planting tomato and eggplant seedlings once I start them in my garage in mid-March.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Not good as a basic component for either Gritty or 5-1-1, sorry to say. Too woody, too sappy, too shreddy, too wet.

You need this:

Here is a link that might be useful: Agway Product

This post was edited by Oxboy555 on Thu, Oct 17, 13 at 15:53

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 3:51PM
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njitgrad

Okay, thanks for the info. I will keep hunting.

Regarding my other question, if I follow Al's 5-1-1 mix, add the Oscomyte Plus, and the Dolomitic Lime, how long before that mix needs to be put "in play" so to speak. Can it be stored in containers outdoors (e.g. large trash cans) for any period of time without losing its good characteristics?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:09PM
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lomodor(6)

i use pine bark medium chunk from lowes.. im sure other
big box stores carry it too..
i think as al would say..not claiming to be a spokesperson
of his..but he does ROCK !! :) that continuity of size matters..so theres no obstruction of flow of water..
i tried a finer pine bark to start..but ended up with the
medium grade..to that i add large 5/8 " pumice..
i used it in all my potted plants this last season..and the
plants did great..especially the roots.. geesh.. some of my potted amorphophallus had MONSTER root systems..
yea !!!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

DON'T add the fertilizer until you're ready to plant. Bad things can happen if you add CRFs, let the mix sit around, then introduce plants to that mix. If you add fert pellets, find a way to use that mix immediately.

The general process is mix it up without fert, throw in your lime, moisten and let it do its thing for a week or two to raise/stabilize the mix pH a bit. Then make sure it's pretty dry and you can store it. HOWEVER I'm not sure what the comfort level is for letting mixed up 5-1-1 (no fert) sit around in storage before using -- maybe 6 mos? I don't know since I'm a 'mix as I need' kind of guy.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Here's a a photo I found online that looks like the pine bark fines I've been using. Note the quarter for size perspective. Try to keep the components no larger than a dime. I also try to avoid shredded bark.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 7:04PM
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lomodor(6)

ohio..what u have in pic.. that looks like good stuff..
ive found with what i buy..and its pretty cheap.. i put in
my big wheelbarrel..cover with water.. then use what floats..
theres always some stuff/debis/even soil that i dont want to
use in my potting mix..i just throw it in the gardens..
?? how was the price ?? i use alot.. this lasts yr i think i
got around 20+ 2cuft bags.. so.i can use alot..

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 9:47PM
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njitgrad

So what I'm starting to understand is that you want basically small "chips" of pine bark if you will, nothing shredded or pulverized because that will (as I've learned in another thread) tie up the nitrogen in the growing mix.

How is it then that roots can firmly establish themselves in such a "loose" growing medium? Is it the peat that gives it the stability? I assume the perlite is just for aeration to counter the clumping effects of peat.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 10:30PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Lomodor: The product I bought was Golden Trophy Mini Pine Fines at $3.89 for 2 cubic feet from Ohio Mulch. It's not composted, so I am able to use it for both mixes, sifting out the dust for gritty mix.

Njitgrad: Pine bark breaks down much more slowly than sapwood, so it doesn't tie up nitrogen in a significant amount. It has a lot of Suberin (a waxy substance that resists water) in it. It works very well by itself in supporting roots. You can grow plants in it even without the addition of peat and perlite.

Here's a quote from Al (tapla) about pine bark:
Bark fines of fir, hemlock or pine, are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as nature's preservative. Suberin, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains.

This post was edited by Ohiofem on Fri, Oct 18, 13 at 0:49

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 12:42AM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

It's not necessarily that roots extend more easily in such a "loose" medium. Rather, the 5-1-1/gritty mixes provide such a favorable environment for nutrient and gas exchange that the plants grow quickly and vigorously -- both below and above the soil line.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 10:17PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Oxboy and OhioFem: I'm envious that you can find products to use for grit mix or 5-1-1 right "out of the bag". Both of the pine bark products you described seem perfect for soil mixing with a minimum of sifting and screening. No such luck here. No Agway stores in this area, and the big box stores all seem to carry very large pine bark. Unfortunately with the holidays coming up most local stores have closed down their nursery operations and removed their mulches so there's not much to see right now.

njitgrad: I'm no expert on this but the material in the photo you posted looks like its very stringy and not the correct type of mulch for making Al's mixes. The names of the materials on the bags at the store is not much helps since different manufactures label pine bark in many different ways. You have to take time to actually look at the mulch itself and see what might work.

Like you, I cannot find anything that meets the size requirements. What I have to do is buy a bag of pine bark, the smallest pieces I can find, and then use hardware cloth (fine wire mesh) to screen out the big chunks (1/2" and larger) and the fine powder and small pieces (1/8" or smaller). It takes time to do this sifting but since I'm only starting out and make soil on a very small scale I do not mind. If I made soil on a large scale then the sifting would take a lot of time.

I made a very small batch of 5-1-1 and am attaching a photo so you can see what my pine bark looks like after screening out the large chunks and dusty fines.

TYG

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 8:33AM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

I can't find bark fines right out of the bag. There are none in the city I live in. I have to do heavy sifting on orchid barks I find either from big box or get off the internet. Labor of love...

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 2:31PM
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njitgrad

I found a retailer near me that will be ordering 10 bags of the Agway product for me, should have them next week. My plan is to lay them down flat on the ground in my enclosed veggie garden until spring time. Better than stacking them on top of each other right? Or does it matter?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 11:25PM
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maple_grove_gw

Stacking doesn't matter for the bark, maybe for the ground underneath.

If you don't mind my asking, which retailer are you getting it from, and how much are they charging?

Thanks,
Alex

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:54AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Thats great news njitgrad! Glad you found a source of pine bark.

If possible can you post a couple of photos of that pine bark? Id like to see the size and texture of that bark.

Thanks

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 1:18PM
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njitgrad

They place is called Mike's Feed Farm in Riverdale, NJ and I'm still waiting on pricing before I order it.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:17PM
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njitgrad

They place is called Mike's Feed Farm in Riverdale, NJ and I'm still waiting on pricing before I order it.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:18PM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

I am looking forward to next spring and seeing what kinds of pine bark mulch, soil conditioner, etc. I can find. I think Al and other members mentioned that each year the pine bark situation seems to change. I plan to build a soil screen box this winter so I will be ready when retailers get in their new supplies of bark. Right now most local nurseries and big box stores have removed their garden supplies and mulch for the season so there's nothing to see.

As JodiK mentioned in other threads, I could try Repti-Bark since I dont really need very much pine bark. A couple of screened 2 CF bags of bark would last me for a season or two I'm sure.

We'll see what happens in March and April. :-)

TYG

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 7:05PM
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njitgrad

I actually ended up ordering only four bags because they are $10 a pop and and 3 cu. yards each. I wonder how many gallons of mix that will make when I make the 5-1-1 in the spring. I'll just order more in the spring if I need to.

For now I'm just going to lay the 4 bags in my enclosed veggie garden. All I have on the ground between my raised beds is bark nuggets anyway so laying the bags on top of them for overwintering should not be an issue.

All I need to get now for my 5-1-1 mix is peat and perlite (all easy to find in the spring) but I will need an alternative to Osmocote Plus since apparently it has been discontinued.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 10:16AM
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njitgrad

The mulch arrived today and it looks exactly like what I needed for the 5-1-1. The bags will just sit in my garden (pic below) until next Spring.

That makes the last "hard to find ingredient for the 5-1-1" that I need to acquire the successor to Oscomyte Plus. I am looking at the Dynamite All Purpose Select 15-5-9 as an alternative.

This post was edited by njitgrad on Fri, Nov 1, 13 at 15:09

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 3:05PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

PINE BARK NUGGETS are mostly used as mulch around the trees an shrubs. Used in potting mix (small nuggets, fines) is just a filler to break down the caking of peat moss, It has no food value JUST A MEDIUM similar to peat moss, perlite etc.
I bought couple of bags, just a week ago, from Lowes at 4 bucks a bags. They had large and small nuggets. Obviously I bought the small version.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 3:46PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

NJ, is there a particular reason you're choosing to store those bags outside instead of out of the elements?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 4:34PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Pine bark consists of dead cells and have been under the elements for years and years. So I don't think they have any thing to leach out. They might have a trace of pine oil.

BUT if you are still concerned with that, you can soak them in water prior to use. I will personally use them out of the bag.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 10:45PM
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njitgrad

oxboy, I have no where indoors to store them. do you see this as a problem where I placed them?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 9:52AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

njitgard ...Are those SHREDDED bark or nuggets/chips ?

It will take years for the pine bark to break down when mixed with soil. I wouldn't worry about keeping them outside over winter. Worst can happen is they get wet and heavy, maybe slightly soft. I have stored mine outside too.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 7:06PM
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acg85

Thanks for the sourcing info njitgrad. I'll check them out if ever up near Riverdale.

Took a long detour to an Agway near E. Brunswick and thought they'd have it all. But was told they don't even order pine bark because "it's too expensive to ship up from NC", and that virtually all their customers are happy with commercial mixes, which are "easier and cheaper than self-assembly - especially when adding in transport." Sigh.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:10PM
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maple_grove_gw

My Agway doesn't usually carry the Agway beand pine bark mulch, but they will special order on request (and deliver it to my door to boot!). It generally needs to be screened through a 1/4" or a 1/2" screen to remove the large pieces. I then sift it with a fine mesh to remove the dust, although this step's not strictly necessary if you're making 5:1:1. Also, try to remove as much of the sapwood as you can. I make up small batches with 5 gallons, 1 gallon, 1 gallon of the raw materials (+ 1/4 cup each of lime and CRF) - each 3 cu. ft. bag will give me 2 or three such batches.

With regard to outdoor storage - in theory, it might be a little better to keep it dry indoors, but I don't think it really makes a difference. Look at it this way, if you waited until spring to order it, it would spend the winter outdoors at the distributor's yard.

-Alex

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 12:39PM
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ka0ttic(CFL 9b)

Just putting together a 5-1-1 mix myself for the first time. How's this look? Found a source about 20miles from me that has this stuff in 2cu ft bags for $2.50/bag.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 2:42PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Is that the bark only or the complete 5-1-1? I don't see any perlite.

A little too woody, sappy, shreddy and wet for my tastes but I've seen worse. If you go with it, I'd try to get out as many of those light colored parts as you can. If you can't, be sure to include some starter nitrogen to prevent lockout.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I assume that is only the pine fines. They actually look very good to me. The light colored pieces are sapwood, which isn't really a problem unless it gets to be more than 5 percent of your mix.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 3:25PM
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ka0ttic(CFL 9b)

Just the fines. Hope it's good enough because it's the best I can find locally and I just bought 20 cu ft of it ;-)

Here it is mixed.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:25PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

I don't know why but it looks pretty 'wet' to me. I'd use the skewers daily to be on top of moisture retention until you get a feel for how much to water.

It'll perform much better than Peat Pudding at any rate. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 8:13PM
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ka0ttic(CFL 9b)

It rained all day the day before today and the bags were sitting outside so they are damp.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 8:21PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It look good kaOttic. It has a little sap wood but not much. I think it is ok.

Here is what I got. It is Cedar bark. (No sap wood). It has some very fine crushed part too, maybe 10%. Which is Ok. Better than peat moss. I,ll screen some for my seed starting mix, together wit perlite and vermiculite.

This post was edited by seysonn on Mon, Nov 4, 13 at 22:55

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 10:47PM
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