time-sensitive help for tapla's 5-1-1 mix

nikki717(7)May 9, 2014

Ok this is my last question for tonight, hehe.

I need to do some repotting. My cat has apparently decided that one of my palm containers feels like a great litterbox. I've put a layer of pokey-pinecones on top and I think she is foiled sufficiently now but there's an odor... ew. Crazy cat. 8 years old and never peed anywhere but her litterbox til now. And no, nothing has changed around here, cept maybe my cat has lost her mind. Anyway, there's that reason.
Reason #2 is I bought a fiddleleaf fig from IKEA little over a month ago. It's about 2.5 feet tall and I had visions when I bought it of it growing huge like those ones that you see on apartment therapy where they arch and tower over the sofa. At only $12, I thought it a great deal. But I noticed it was really root bound so when I got it home, I took it out of the pot and trimmed about an inch off the roots all around and underneath, and placed it back in the pot with Epsoma potting mix and perlite all around, bout a 50/50 mix. This was before I found gardenweb obviously. I've successfully kept about half the houseplants I have bought in the last 15-20 years (so that's hardly successful then, right? Ha) so I really never even thought of what I was putting in. The Epsoma stuff had a high rating on amazon so I actually thought I was giving my new plant some extra-special treatment (having had a gnat-debacle with some miracle gro potting mix last fall, I searched out a better soil on amazon).

Anyway, the fig also had a few brown spots on the leaves when I bought it, just 2 or 3, and very small. Those have since turned to huge brown spots on several of the leaves, and 2 leaves had to come off altogether. Something clearly isn't right. I had it in my dining room window, which gets bright morning light, then indirect from about 11 on. I know it should be somewhere sunnier but the only rooms in my house that get great light are 2 of the bedrooms and my sunroom. And the sunroom was too cold a month ago. It's in the sunroom now though, and has been for a week.

God, I am long-winded. My apologies. I write like I talk, which is too much too fast.

So I've been researching this 5-1-1 mix extensively. I haven't wanted to ask questions bc with the 1,000+ posts on the subject already, surely any questions I have will have been answered already. But it's so hard to find answers when there is so darn much on a topic already. I swear I've probably read for hours on this topic but still don't have the answers I need.

Finally! you say. On to the question!

I, like many, am finding it impossible to locate these pine bark fines. I have been to 2 farm-supply stores and nobody knows what I'm talking about. Making it myself is not possible from what I've gathered, because I need it now and also bc don't have a chipper. HOWEVER-- and I am so hoping that good luck found it's way to me today-- I happened to be at one of these close-out bargain stores getting a small rug for under my daughter's loft bed when I saw they had a delivery of garden stuff. One of their potting mixes, "Perfect Landscape All-purpose Potting Mix" seems like it might be a viable alternative to the pine bark fines. Might.

According to the back of the bag, "This product is regionally formulated from the following: composted forest products, processed pine bark, Canadian sphagnum peat moss, reed sedge peat, sand and/or composted rice hulls, perlite and limestone.
In Georgia, this product contains processed pine bark, (75-85%), sand, composted forest products and perlite."

That sounds good, right? I know it's not perfect but it sounds like a good second-best? Or am I totally off base here? I bought one bag today but will rush back for more first chance I get if I receive the go ahead.

Keep in mind that the alternative for me now is probably going to be my Epsoma mix with sphagnum peat moss and perlite mixed in, a little lime maybe if I can get it soon.

Oh and I have 2 bags of shredded pine bark mulch that have sat up against the back of my house since last fall, I've seen somewhere that I might be able to make use of them? I figured they were probably moldy inside and I was planning to toss them. They've both been opened but mostly unused and rolled back up to the best of my ability. I am sure moisture has gotten in. If I can incorporate them into my mix I will be very glad to do so, but it seems kind of gross so I need to hear it from someone else first.

Ok so two questions here:
Is the potting mix worth buying more of?
Can I use this old icky pine back mulch?

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ingredients listed

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 12:58AM
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I would need to see the texture of the potting mix but it sounds quite reasonable.

And yes, using the bark is fine. It doesn't make any difference if it is wet or not. Or "moldy" or not - the mold is just an indication of an ongoing decomposition or composting process.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:38PM
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Thank you gardengal!

I forgot to take a pic of the mix itself but it seemed like very fine pine bark-- like my usual shredded pine bark mulch only much finer and more moist and dark-- as if my usual stuff were shredded a few more times and maybe had something mixed in.

I saw your reply early this morning and planned to go back and get more on my way home from work tonight, after hitting up a favorite nursery for a Mother's Day hosta, and I asked THEM about pine bark fines. Again, hadn't heard of it but... he gave me the name of a big mulch place in Baltimore and I went to their website since it was after-hours and under "products", there it is. "Pine bark fines"!

I am very excited but will call on Monday to make sure they have it in stock. If they do I will post it here for others who are looking. Seems there are a lot of us who've looked and looked to no avail.

Thanks also for the advice on the moldy mulch. I'm always excited to get to use something I thought I was going to have to toss-- these little positive tidbits help with some of my frustration for the mistakes I've made.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:26AM
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