Al's 5-1-1/Gritty Mix - Colorants in the Pine Bark ?

acg85November 2, 2013

Hi All,

This newbie has been poring through the tapla 5-1-1 and Gritty threads, and am beginning to appreciate the concepts behind them.

Only thing I haven't noticed (or have missed) in the posts was mention of colorants in the pine bark.

I was looking into trying Al's 5-1-1 for vegetables in containers next season, and it seems that nothing in the big and medium stores (particle size and suitability aside) is not dyed in some way. Seems it's a selling point for a "mulch" (which is the only pine bark around here so far).

As "safe" as the colorants may be rated, think, I'd prefer natural bark for this vegetable use (wouldn't give it a thought if the mix was for ornamental plants).

Comments or advice would be appreciated.


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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Hi acg85 ...Welcome !

I am also a newbie when it comes to container growing. Because I am planning to do some container/pots planting , I have been educating myself in this forum.

I think you are talking about colored mulch which may or may not be mad of pine. I have used them as landscaping mulch. If it is made of pine, it is shredded and made from pine branches and trunk that probably was not suitable for making lumber. Or can be made from the next layer under the bark. It can also be made similarly from cedar or other wood. They usually come in red and black color.

Pine or fir BARKS are mostly bagged and sold uncolored. That is what they are using in 5: 1:1:and orchid potting mix ; ALL NATURAL PINE BARK (NUGGETS,)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 3:24AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, indeed, as Seysonn says, the colored mulch is often sapwood or other parts of the tree. This is unacceptable for our purposes. You want natural pine or fir bark - the fine-grade kind that Orchid growers use.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 3:14PM
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Thanks for the info.

Everything pine so far seen around here is labeled mulch. At HD, Lowes, WalMart, KMart, etc. even those products "certified" by the Mulch and Soil Council as pine bark, were made red or black or other non-original color.

Guess I'll keep looking. (Ranging from Central NJ, through Staten Island and Brooklyn, even got "we don't carry that since it's too expensive to ship up from NC" from a couple of nursery/garden centers.)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 6:43PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

I think a lot of folks in your neck of the woods by their bark fines from Agway stores.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:49PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

'''Everything pine so far seen around here is labeled mulch. At HD, Lowes, WalMart, ""

That is right. MULCH can be many things, hey, straw, grass clippings, ... including BARK. An that is what it is mostly used for. Here is what I bought which is also labeled MULCH.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 11:52PM
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Nice lookin' bark there in the photo.

Ironically it was an Agway which said they don't order Agway pine bark.

Next I'm going to try the few - but more local - nurseries and hydroponics shops. Orchid (or even Repti) bark may wind up costing less than pine, because of the travel. Not very economical to try Ag product dealers (none local), unless in the area for another reason. (That no-bark Agway was only 30 mi distant, but a round-trip that cost near $40 including tolls.)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 2:44AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

acg85 ... This is the time that most garden stores are almost shut down. Especially up north. I am sure they will sell pine bark next spring when they start selling seeds and seedlings.
40 buck for a bag of bark is way too much. You can buy the stuff for orchids maybe for less. Even those can be expensive in small fancy packages. But that is how I bought some vermiculite and perlite.
I have an idea. Check with tree service guys. They might have some rotten old pines with bark on. You can strip them and run thru a shredder. You know pine wood is no good for fireplace. That is why nobody wants them.
In GA I could collect tones of them from the dead fallen pines everywhere.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 4:35AM
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