Pine Bark?

djlen

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Looking for Pine Bark 'fines'. I've tried all the local pet shops and can't find shredded or
fine bark anywhere. Anyone know of a source for this excellent medium for Bonsai?
 

FrankP999

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Looking for Pine Bark 'fines'. I've tried all the local pet shops and can't find shredded or
fine bark anywhere. Anyone know of a source for this excellent medium for Bonsai?
I buy my bark from orchid supply shops. It is usually fir bark not pine. It is available in different sizes but I am not sure about "fines".

Frank
 

Tachigi

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Try here PINE BARK, If you need smaller just contact them, they make soil components to order as well.
 

rockm

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Check for COMPOSTED pine bark mulch, usually sold as "soil conditioner" at places like Home depot. Five dollars will buy a 25 lb bag or so. "Nature's Pride Soil Conditioner" is one brand name.
 

djlen

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rockm -
This Nature's Pride Soil Conditioner. Is it totally Pine Bark mulch?
I found another product which is a soil conditioner called Bumper Crop Soil conditioner. It's not all
pine bark, but is used to build up bedding and also lighten clay based soil.
Any thoughts on this stuff?
The reason I'm asking is that the Nature's Pride is just not available at this time and some of the others I've found are.
 

mcpesq817

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rockm -
This Nature's Pride Soil Conditioner. Is it totally Pine Bark mulch?
I found another product which is a soil conditioner called Bumper Crop Soil conditioner. It's not all
pine bark, but is used to build up bedding and also lighten clay based soil.
Any thoughts on this stuff?
The reason I'm asking is that the Nature's Pride is just not available at this time and some of the others I've found are.
Some products marketed as soil conditioners have gypsum or other additives. I'm not sure whether these are safe to use, but just throw that out there.
 

rockm

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Nature's pride is composted pine bark and apparently --according to their web site--gypsum. I've used it for years, but not in the last few. The recipe may have changed. When I was using it, I had no problems. I'd bet the gypsum is to balance out the acidity of the composted bark, as well as prevent colloidal soils (clay) from clumping. I'd also bet it's probably pH neutral.

I'd be surprised to think it would have harmful effects on anything other than acid-lovers like Azalea.

Soil conditioners are meant to be used to break up heavy clay soils to better accommodate plants and drainage.
 

djlen

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Well, I will check out that "Bumper Crop" and see exactly what the ingredients are and I'll let you know
what I find. I've gotten two positive testimonials on the stuff from separate individuals so it may be what
I'm looking for.
 

djlen

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Well after more searching I found "Shredded Pine Bark" and brought it home and it was too
coarse for my liking so I ran it through our leaf/branch shredder (twice) and got a nice fine
consistency that I really like. So now I've got a 39gal. trash can full of the stuff as a base
for a nice potting mix or a Bonsai mix. I will differentiate between the two with the ingredients
I add to the pine bark.
There's a guy named Al Tapla on Garden Web who is kind of the resident Guru there and he has
a couple of basic potting mixes he uses with great success. His 5-1-1 mix is for houseplants.
Then he as a "Coarse Mix" he uses for Bonsai and some Cactus/Succulents:
If anyone is interested here is his 'Coarse Mix' formula:

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

1 part uncomposted pine or fir bark
1 part Turface
1 part crushed granite
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil
CRF (if desired)
Source of micro-nutrients or use a fertilizer that contains all essentials
I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg.

If anyone is interested his article on Container Soil can be found here:
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0521151724775.html?46

I find his writing very informative.
 

rockm

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DO NOT use uncomposted pine mulch. Fir bark is fine, as is "seedling" orchid bark.

Uncomposted pine mulch (like the shredded bark you've ground up) contains resins, doesn't retain water very well and could wind up burning Nitrogen as it composts in your soil.
 

djlen

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Thanks but I think I'll go with Tapla's advice on this. He's got all kinds of testimonials on Garden Web that have
used his recipies and swear by them. You can't argue with success.
 

Tachigi

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Thanks but I think I'll go with Tapla's advice on this. He's got all kinds of testimonials on Garden Web that have
used his recipes and swear by them. You can't argue with success.
Marc has a point and it could be argued here that for what we do...their are testimonials as well for using composted pine, and fir. Out of curiosity...whats the testimonials on GW for, bonsai or growing tomatoes?
 

rockm

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Do what you want, but there is ample evidence there are some issues about using bark mulch in soils:
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/asktoh/question/0,,213272,00.html

Even the mulchers admit it:
http://www.mulchandmore-clover.com/faqs.htm

Additionally, and probably more importantly, uncomposted mulch is a much more likely vector for fungal spores, viruses, and other pathogens. There have been cases in the past where bonsai nurseries have lost their entire stock due to bad mulch...Shredded hardwood mulch, in particular, has been shown to contain problematic amounts of heavy metals that can inhibit plant growth. It's sourcing can also be questionable--making the issue of disease all the more important--mulched trees are sometimes SICK trees...

In my 15 years of growing bonsai, I've tried just about everything do-it-yourself soilwise-with the exception of volcanic pumice (too expensive here). In my experience, any uncomposted bark, with the exception of fir/orchid bark, is a bad thing in bonsai soil. It is hard to get completely saturated and sometimes shedding water. Also, once dry, it become impervious to water and can take a very very long time to re-wet.

Mechanically, it also tends to float, which means if you submerge the pot to re-wet the soil after it dries out--you will get substantial "float away" of the soil upon removing it from the soaking container....

Composting, or letting the stuff age, considerably reduces all of this....
 

djlen

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First, I will not be using the bark that I just ground up until spring which will give it additional time to age up.
However, I received a reply from another person whose opinion I greatly respect and here is his reply:

There's no problem using fresh bark. The aromatics even have some anti fungal activity. There will be a tiny loss of nitrogen due to the slowly decomposing bark, but if you fertilize at all, you will greatly exceed the loss. I have been using fresh bark commercially for over twenty years. If it doesn't have that nice resin smell, I don't buy it, and I buy bark by the pallet.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com

Honestly, I'm not trying to be argumentative here. I value all opinions and am just trying to learn more about my hobby. But there is so much divergence in opinion on some of these topics that it's hard to know who to believe. Especially when some come down strongly on one side and others on the other. Geeeeeeesh!!!!!!
 

rockm

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I make these arguments because I HAVE had bad experiences with it.

Addionally, composted mulch is LESS expensive than the "raw" kind--like $1 or 2 less per bag, is better sized (you don't have to grind it up) I use it straight out of the bag, unsifted...

All due respect, Brent's advice is good--if you live in the pacific Northwest--most mulch is sourced locally as shipping costs are more economical. He's using fir and other conifers. Depending on where you live, the source can be anything from yellow pine, to scrub pines and trash trees, to cypress to contaminated wood lots being clear cut for housing..
Depending on where you live, this can be a very bad thing:
http://www.agctr.lsu.edu/en/environ...n+termites+in+mulch+from+Louisiana+follow.htm

While is in unlikely you will get formosan termites, it goes to show, if something as big as a termite can travel in this stuff, then what about simple fungal diseases, like fusarium and oak wilt and well, your guess is as good as mine. While these may not pose problems for landscape use, as runoff and the sheer volume of mulch used and cancel out some of this, a bonsai pot is an enclosed, closed environment.

Composting bark takes longer than a couple of months.

for what it's worth, I have used orchid bark "seedling" bark in my soil mixes for a few years now. It's uncomposted bark, but it's sourced fir bark and does perform as Brent says it does.
 
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Smoke

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Some musings about soil from Al...I have an opinion just like other body parts.

My feelings about bark...

Good filler material. Cheap and bulky.

Not much good for anything else. While Brent is well respected in most forums he comes with a small bias. He is a commercial grower and said so because he buys bark by the pallet. You took his word at face value yet did not ask why he buys bark by the pallet. Why is he not potting up his plants for sale in akadama? Many feel it is better so why not use that for potting up in a commercial nursery. Why, cause bark is cheap and it fills one and five gallon nursery containers faster than good soil alone. Mix the humas or mulch or field soil or whatever with an equal volume of bark and voila, pot is full.

A better question for Brent would be , Brent I know you use bark in your field plants for sale but could you show a close up photo of the soil in a tree you would consider for an exhibit.

Agricultural pumice or a bag of dry stall will do the same thing as the bark and do a better job of it. Problem is it is stark white and unsightly in the pot. Probably around the same price though. Lava if you can get it would do a very good job but will cost more than the lava but will come in darker colors being either red or black.

I use a rather inorganic mix of akadama, huygga (yellow Japanese pumice) cali dama, (a domestic crushing of sub terranian hard pan) and lava with a layer of charcol. I do not add organic substrates to my soil.

When I fertilize I use a fertilizer with humic acid in it to buffer the soil mix and make it more fertilizer friendly. I fertilize a lot. A lot meaning as much as I can pile onto the plant. All organic though. Chemical fertilizers are used but only in the first four months of the growing season.

Did I say I don't use bark? Just wanted to make sure.

Bonsai soil is not cheap. It can be made cheaply...but it works cheaply also.
 
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This has been an interesting thread. I have bought uncomposted pine bark fines by the pickup truck load for my gardens where it works wonders at restoring the tilth to my compressed clay soil. For that application, I just love it.
I used to sieve out the real fine stuff with a number 4 screen to collect larger fragments to use in bonsai soil which I mixed 50/50 with haydite. Since I started that, I had a high mortality rate with some trees, especially American hornbeams. HMMMM. Perhaps uncomposted pine bark is unable to support mycchorizal growth.

Hardwood mulch should probably be avoided at all costs for just about any application. Much of what is available here includes a lot of wood fragments and sometimes, ground up pallets. It is then dyed black to make it more uniform in color. Some folks lay it down too thick which causes it to form a waterproof crust on top of the soil. After a few months, it gets a disgusting fungal infection called 'dog vomit fungus' because it literally looks like a dog just yacked on it.
 
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