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Adding Screened Bark to Potting Mix

By RickCorey
August 17, 2012

Improve the drainage and aeration of seedling and potting mixes with pine bark shreds.

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Name: Robert B
Bradenton, Florida (Zone 9b)
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RobertB
Aug 16, 2012 7:54 PM CST
Thanks Rick!
I've been tweeking my adenium mix and wasn't quite happy with the drainage yet. I will definitely try pine bark next time I make up a batch...


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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Aug 16, 2012 8:18 PM CST
If you can find long, thin shreds, those give the best aeration. I only found those once!

But then I found bark "nuggets" at Lowes. Those were so clean and free from powder that I can use almost everything in the "small" bag. Medium and coarse are bigger than I need. I now keep anything that won't pass 1/4", and I would consider a pass with 1/8" hardware cloth when I buy some.

I used to have so many fine bark fibers even after screening that I didn't want any peat at all. But now I have a very coarse, grainy bucket of nuggets, and do plan to add some commercial peaty stuff, like 10-20%.

I also found 1/3" hardware cloth from McMaster-Car. The lightweight "easy to form" non-woven kind is strong enough when supported by something. And it only costs $1.23 per sq. foot, not $15! (Avoid stainless and heavier woven steel cloth, due to price.)

These photos show chopped juniper branches as I screened them so I could put the bigger pieces through my lawn mower again.

I like to shovel and screen from one wheelbarrow to another to reduce bending. I also keep a clean tarp on the driveway so I can flip chunks off the shelving down to gorund level without getting them dirty.

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[Last edited by RickCorey - Sep 19, 2013 3:54 PM (+)]
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Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
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Marilyn
Aug 16, 2012 9:57 PM CST
Great tip! Thumbs up Thumbs up Hurray! nodding

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Name: Robert B
Bradenton, Florida (Zone 9b)
Plumeria to trade!!!
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Hummingbirder Region: Gulf Coast Amaryllis The WITWIT Badge Seed Starter
Bromeliad Plant and/or Seed Trader Tropicals Ponds Dog Lover Plumerias
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RobertB
Aug 17, 2012 5:30 AM CST
Awesome get up there..... Thumbs up


RobertB
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CarolineScott
Aug 17, 2012 6:35 AM CST
Thanks for an informative "how to do it" idea.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 18, 2012 1:42 PM CST
Thank you!

I keep day-dreaming about how to get long thin shreds from bark (how I'd do it if I owned a lumber mill and money were no object.)

- when running a log through a veneer-slicing machine, leave the bark ON the log. While spinning and slicing off bark shavings, have some diverter that throws the bark sheets or shreds one way, into the "gardeners' bin". Then, when you reach wood, throw the diverter the other way, into the "plywood bin".

- make a hydraulicly-driven curved cheese-grater blade or curved plane, where the curve would conform to the average circumference of a log. Drive the blade back and forth lengthwise along the bark to shave off 10 foot-long shreds, and later cut them to length. Rotate the log when you reach wood.

- collect long bark chunks from whatever process mills use now to de-bark. Slice them length-wise WITH the grain, probably with closely-spaced circular blades that pull the bark through as they cut. Find some way to split the long thick slices into long thin slices.

Also, if pine bark nuggets are helpful for aeration & drainage, and pine bark fibers partly replace peat but don't hold enough water for some purposes, I thought about the way they make porous, water-holding pellets by expanding shale or other rocks. Like vermiculite, but more porous.

Take moist bark shreds and small nuggets, then EXPAND them like popcorn, in a high-power microwave. If it puffed them up but left them solid enough to hold their shape, they might be even more usefull at replacing peat in inexpensive, well-draining mixes.
[Last edited by RickCorey - Aug 18, 2012 1:45 PM (+)]
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