Can you look at this bark

earthworm73(WA z8)November 28, 2012

Sorry for the double question. This one piggybacks (sorta) on the above question. I am wanting to make 5-1-1 mix the right way since last year's attempt was a failure. Here is the bark that I have on hand. The darker one came from a bag that said it was "Soil Conditioner - composted bark, the other comes from a bag of small decorative bark. Which one is more suitable for 5-1-1 mix? BTW cold hardy palms are what's gonna be living in the mix.

Soil Conditiner

Decorative Bark

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I prefer the look of the decorative bark as it is possible to see it is all the same material. For your palms I think they would do well in either one. Al

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:15AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I like the second pic much better for the 5:1:1, though it looks a little coarse.

This pic is actually a tiny bit too coarse for my taste, too

Here's the soil


    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:59PM
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earthworm73(WA z8)

Thank you Calistoga and Al. I'll keep using the bottom one. The other will find it's way to the compost bin. I know I'll need to pick out the sapwood pieces. So about the bark being course, how will having coarse bark effect the mix? Also can I substitute pumice for perlite? I am having a hard time finding coarse perlite in my area.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Hi earthworm,
I found this online retailer for course perlite:

course perlite

I haven't used them yet but will next year. Seems like a good price.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 9:10AM
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When you get to the course perlite part, there's still most likely going to be some sifting necessary to remove dust and smaller particles. I've found this to be an issue regardless the size of perlite.

We found a giant bag of coarse perlite at our local garden center... and it's fairly dusty and loaded with tiny bits that need to come out. But I do like the larger, coarser size, overall, for use in my custom gritty medium renditions.

To be honest, that very top photo reminds me of some of the bags of Miracele Gro potting soil we found for general use last year, for some of our potted stock that gets sold right away. We got two bags on special because they were torn and leaking. It was just awful. The quality and consistency of that particular brand has nosedived over the past few years, badly... in my opinion. We switched to a different brand, and must drive a lot further to obtain it, but it's worth it. I can't think of the brand offhand... but it's comparable to what some wholesalers use... like Sunshine brand.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 12:37PM
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earthworm73(WA z8)

nycgarden thanks for the link however after putting in a little more work I was able to locate several local places that carry large or #3 I believe size perlite. Funny the only places to carry this was the grow shops. Funny now that small amount of marijuana is legal in my state there will prolly be more grow shops popping up which me more places will be supplying coarse perlite.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:21PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Thats is where i buy my perlite. My local Hydroponics stores have "lots" of business!! They also carry the Foliage Pro and Pro TeKt ... if you ask them!!!

Great containers, lights etc.. everything you would need

Glad you found what you need
for the "proper set up" LOL!!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 12:30AM
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Great ideas... I never thought of that, though it's not legal at the moment to grow medical marijuana in my state, but a hydroponics store would carry pretty much everything we'd need! Other places to look are orchid growers, bonsai shops, and the more specialty type stores.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:30AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Yeah, i go into a hydroponics store for fertilizer since my container plants are essentially a to waste hydro setup. Boy do I get some shocked looks when I pay with a credit card. Oh no a paper trail proving I'm a plant geek. Lol

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:43AM
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earthworm73(WA z8)

That's funny nil 13. I sent my wife to the hydro store today to get the big perlite and a bag of FF Ocean Forest cuz I was at work. She said the store clerk was definitely a smoker lol. Plus she said the guy gave her a 10% discount cuz she was "a very attractive lady". Hey dude easy on the compliments but you think you could make it a 20% discount if she wears makeup and a cute outfit?

Click for weather forecast

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Honestly, I don't know what the big deal is... it's not like "Reefer Madness" was a documentary. You'd think this nation would have grown up by now.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 4:08PM
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lrvjim(7 to 8)

Just curious. Why the chunky bark for the 5-1-1. The first pic more closely resembles- pine bark fines (partially composted fines are best) . IMHO

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 7:03AM
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earthworm73(WA z8)

lvrjim I think the issue with the material in the first pic is it�s inconsistent in size (bark pieces and overly composted bark �powder") and texture. From what I understand you want to avoid fine properties in your 5-1-1 mix as fine particles can hold too much water then opposite of what you are looking for in your containers. I used the bark in the second pic over the weekend and even today the bottom most bark is glistening with water. I can only imagine if I had used the overly composted bark in the first pic I would have a soggy mess in the bottom portion of my containers. Hopefully someone else can come and chime in if I am wrong or explaining it incorrectly.

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    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:41AM
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In my opinion, the bark in the first example is too composted. In order to understand, one really needs to read the article Tapla wrote called, "Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention", which explains the concept behind the different medium mixes. It has its own thread here in the forum.

I think the particle size is too uneven with too many fines, and even if sifted, what you'd end up with as usable material wouldn't be worth the effort. It's too broken down already.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:55AM
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