[organic gardening] Hoping for help composting my own bark, have bags of shredded bark to use for some raised-bed in-ground development grows :)

FL (Tampa area / Gulf-Coast)
I've got a couple questions about composting my own bark, I've long liked the idea of being able to get composted-mulch (expecting I'd get it cheap) but never found it, anyways that led to desiring to compost my own bark-mulch, using generic bark-mulch as my starting point. Before starting "my first batch" I'm hoping to learn a couple things, specifically:

- are "Pine bark nuggets" fine for this? I see that Fir bark seems the darling of the orchid world but can't discern why it's worth a penny more, let alone like 5-10x more, than any other bark (and suspect it's 'the akadama of the orchid world' in that regard)

- While pine-bark-nuggets will likely be my go-to (due to always being available, pine & eucalyptus seem to be the only ones you can be sure you'll find), I was surprised to find some local-sourced mulch at Home Depot (had a Miracle Gro bag though!), unsure how long they'll stock it but it says it's a citrus/eucalyptus blend, however I can't get any scent of euc from it, it smells like regular bark-material should smell, is it possible this stuff is already composted (or is that a misnomer, in that the Q really should be "is this stuff already undergoing composition & at some phase of it?")
20190212_172817.jpg 20190212_172835.jpg

[right-side is a handful of the generic "Pine Bark Mini [lol!] Nuggets", left is a handful of the FL-sourced stuff, note the fine particles in the upper-center (that whole lil golf-ball sized area was clumped-together, with gentle finger-pressure it broke-apart like a clump of peat would), I can't help but think this stuff could already be composted to some degree and have begun using it in mixes]

- Since a large amount of this stuff is destined for the ground for some raised-bed development-grows I'm doing, should I begin tilling this into the ground *now* before I actually transplant the specimen from boxes-to-beds in ~3-8wks? It seems that disturbing the ground is to be avoided as.much.as.possible as you shred the fungal&bacterial colonies you'd want there, my understanding is you'd want to til & prep your in-ground site WELL in-advance of planting, I'm pretty sure I'm already behind on that as I plan to use these yet-unbuilt spots for grows this season, could be putting things in-ground before March as lots of my stuff is waking-up and this "winter" doesn't seem to have any intention of showing-up here!!

Thanks a ton for any info on this, also any&all info about using it in the context of a compost-pile would be greatly appreciated!!! And/or compost-tea, as I'm going to be experimenting with both this season, already have my compost-tea bucket setup but still figuring-out how (where!) to put my compost pile to start it properly, some more youtubes should rectify that though :D Happy gardening everyone!!!


Imperial Masterpiece
Fairfax Va.
Dump it on the ground. Water it, turn it over every couple of months. Wait a year...then another.

FWIW, doing this can also introduce all kinds of crap into your bonsai soil. I have had significant problems with mulch that has composted itself in my backyard splashing up into bonsai pots. Apparently that stuff carries some kind of fungal crap with it. I've lost a couple of newly collected trees to root infections when I left pots on the ground in the mulched area. Killed stuff in TWO days.

If I were doing this (and God knows why I would, since you can find composted bark as "clay buster" soil components pretty easily) I'd plan on bagging up the mulched chips in a year or so in a black garbage bag and leaving the bag in the summer sun for a month before I'd use anything. Sterilization...

composted mulch clay buster:
Dallas, Texas
"Bark" in general is too low in nitrogen to compost quickly. If you want to make hot, fast compost, put it in a bin mixed with a nitrogen source and moisten. Use the citrus/eucalyptus product because the particles are much finer and more decomposed. Pine bark "nuggets" are sold precisely because they resist decomposition and last longer as mulch. This is also why orchid growers like them--they don't break down in the pot and continue to give the perfect drainage orchids require for a long time.

But why do you need to do that? If this is going into raised growing beds, you can just mix it 50/50 with an inorganic material, add a little nitrogen, and fill the beds. Since you are in Florida, I guess that you have very sandy soil. This would be perfect to mix with the bark.

I know this is heresy, but I use compost in my bonsai soil. Our summers are long, hot, and dry, and I need the water retention. Amount of compost in the mix varies with species, but usually not more than 1/3 of the total, the rest being a free-draining inorganic materia.
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