bark fines.

augiedog55November 30, 2011

i found some bar fines here in kc 2 days ago i think. Its called soil pep and the pices are 1/4 to 1/2 in and it comes from Idaho. I emailed them and asked what was in it and they they said its was mostly ponderoa pine and douglas fir bark. my next qestion was is there any sap wood in it and his answer was most of thhe bags are 15 % sap wood.. What harm will sap wood do? should i use it or look foranother source? I've got 5 months

thanks in advance

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You want to stay away from sap wood. Conifer bark has the right physical and chemical properties for a container mix whereas heart wood and sap wood do not. I believe you'll find a more detailed explanation of the "why" on the "Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention" threads.

That said, most bags promoted as bark will contain some proportion of heart/sap wood. The "15%" may simply be their manufacturing spec--meaning "this product may contain up to 15% sap wood" You just can't tell without inspecting the product. The sap wood should be immediately evident because it looks like wood--not bark. It could be that there's actually very little sapwood and you can hand-pick it from the mix. If it's truly 15%, you'll have to decide if it's worth the effort.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 10:49AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There are 3 negatives associated with hardwood bark and products that contain significant amounts of sapwood. There is often a rather high pH spike that occurs at some point during the composting process; there is a good deal of (exothermic) heat produced by the composting process because of the speed at which sapwood/heartwood/sawdust breaks down; there is a measure of N immobilization associated with wood products that break down quickly that can be difficult for growers to deal with w/o over-fertilizing unless they are specifically aware of what's going on and reacting appropriately.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 1:05PM
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Al thanks for your response. You are a wealth of knowledge. If I'm making a mix that is 3-2-1 and 15% if the bark would be sap wood would that have a negative affect on a 25 gall pot. If it will, I will continue to try and find bark fines in the heart land.
Thanks in advance

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 2:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You know, it's hard to say .... I usually look at the bark I buy & just mentally try to determine )I guess) whether or not it's more than 10% sapwood. If it is, I usually pass ..... but there's a big 'BUT' that goes along with that as a qualifier. ..... but if I didn't have several sources of bark to choose from at any given time, I wouldn't be quite as picky about the 10% guideline. If that's all you can find, go ahead and use it. It's hard to imagine that the extra 5% of sapwood is going to be your downfall. You know it's not ideal, so just keep your eyes peeled for something that might be a little better - if you don't find something, then do the best with what you have. I'd take a well aerated mix with minor imperfections over a heavier soil any day.

BTW - good luck to you ..... and thanks for the kind comment.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 5:05PM
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