Al, Help - small bark (I think I have a mental block)

rina_August 22, 2012


I have good amount of small pine bark available.

I already asked question about this but I am not sure if I am getting it. Here is your answer:

If you screen it over insect screen, it should be ok in the gritty mix, or use it by mixing it into the 5:1:1 mix. If it's well composted, I think I might consider using it as a slightly smaller fraction of the gritty mix. For instance maybe a 2:2:1 bark or a 3:3:2 bark.

Your recommended ratios above (2:2:1 bark or 3:3:2 bark) - which number is for the bark (you always list bark as first ingredient FWIR - but I read this as bark being the last digit)

*My bark is composted, I would think little more than 'partially' & not totally 'fully composted'.

*Bark is 1/8" and smaller than 3/16". (I screened some thru the sieve just a fraction of mm bigger than insect screen.)

*You mentioned before that:

So far, in the thousands of different plants I've grown, I've really only found one plant that seems to prefer the 5:1:1 mix over the gritty mix, and I have no idea why that might be true. The plant is Scilla violacia or leopard lily. Everything else I've had in the gritty mix has always done noticeably better than in the 5:1:1 mix or other heavier soils.

I wouldn't mind making one mix. (This would be for ornamentals, not for veggies. For veggies I probably would use 511).

*I have some perlite available, have 1/4" chicken grit, some floor dry leftovers (but can get more of it or Turface.) Any other ingredients, additives.

For fert, I use MG 12-4-8 with micros, liquid.

If you can suggest what would be in your opinion best mix using this bark, it would be greatly appreciated.

Josh, Mike & anybody else pls. chime in.

I try to research before asking, have read thru numerous postings & don't like wasting anybody's time...right now I am little stuck.

Thank you.


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

2:2:1, Turface:grit:bark
3:3:1, Turface:grit:bark

I might not be fully understanding your question, but I'd say the bark in the picture is on the small side though usable for the gritty mix, but in a lower volume as noted by the ratios above.

It would be VERY good as the primary fraction of the 5:1:1 mix, and if you were using it for the 5:1:1 mix, you probably wouldn't need to screen out any fines, as long as they represent a reasonable volume of the whole.

You know I'm not being a s/a when I say making these soils isn't rocket science. The point isn't to get you to jump through a bunch of hoops; rather, it's to get you to a place where you're able to implement the concept so you're able to see a marked improvement over heavier soils. All you need to be is 'close', not perfect. Even if you have to adjust what you put in place by adding a wick or tipping a pot after watering because some of the ingredients were too fine or the volume of fine ingredients too great, you're still well on the way to understanding HOW to put your soils together in order to get the most out of them. That's the important part. If your soil doesn't come together perfectly, don't look at it as a mistake; rather, it's a move in the right direction and you'll know how to build on what you have, based on what you know and your practical experience.

Some growers prefer to grow in soils like MG for their convenience, and that's fine - no problem with that. Most other growers are limited in their progress when they run smack up against a brick wall, which is their lack of understanding of how soils work. They would LOVE to make progress, but they just don't even understand what is limiting them, let alone how to fix it. Understanding things like how water behaves in soil and how particle size affects water retention isn't just for nerds, it's for anyone who wonders what's on the other side of the wall; and anyone who thinks that's an overblown analogy doesn't understand the limiting effects of heavy soil.

OK - read that as encouragement. You're doing great and your posts here & @ the container forum confirm it. I'll even refrain from telling you that you worry too much, because I get a feeling you're not worrying - you're hungry. There's a huge difference and being hungry is something I'd never want to discourage.

If I didn't answer your question - rephrase and I'll try to do better.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Thanks, you actually answered my question. I thought, but wasn't sure if last digit represented bark; it does so I did have it right in my head.

I think I understand the concept, but there are times I doubt myself a bit. I realized that it is still not a 'second nature' to me. Hope I am getting there.

I always wanted to know 'why' besides just 'how'...(it gets me sometimes in trouble: recently I had few contractors over to do some renovations on my house. I always ask if it's ok to (sometimes) watch what they are doing & ask few questions...they really don't like it, LOL - it's all my dad's fault, he always liked us kids to be around him & help with whatever he was working on and he loved to explain 'whys'...)

So back to mixing...Actually, even just repotting into the bark as-is would be better than leaving them in what they are now.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 4:36PM
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