container Using fresh pince bark in container mixture

Sorry if this has been covered, I have been reading up all week.
After moving, I have to start over. I have no containers or mix coming into this season.

So, I bought several different size containers. When I went to pickup my ocean forest potting soil they were low on stock.

So, my question is- I know there are benefits to using composted pine bark, but how about adding some fresh pine bark (bagged stuff at the local store) to the ocean forest to help it go a little further?

I will be starting a compost pile (of pine park) for next season, but could use something to make the ocean forest go a little further this season.
 
Thanks in advance!
 

CaneDog

Extreme Member
marxxx said:
So, my question is- I know there are benefits to using composted pine bark, but how about adding some fresh pine bark (bagged stuff at the local store) to the ocean forest to help it go a little further?
 
Hey Marxxx.  Mixing uncomposted wood/bark into the soil/mix, versus using it only as a thin layer of mulch on top, is likely to cause problems by locking up nutrients (can have a serious impact on N availability) during the process of composting, making them unavailable to the plant.  Once the material is composted, it's all good again.  I'd definitely avoid mixing in any uncomposted wood products. 
 
If you want to make the soil go farther, products like peat moss or coir are probably a better idea.  You may have to supplement nutrients more so than with 100% quality (undiluted) mix, but you won't run into the lockup problems.
 
- and good luck with your first season in the new digs.
 
CaneDog,
 
Thank you! The info is greatly appreciated.
I am excited to grow some peppers again, it has been a few years since I have (logistics, moving etc).
 
Hope you have a great year - thanks again!


Mark
 
 
 
CaneDog said:
 
Hey Marxxx.  Mixing uncomposted wood/bark into the soil/mix, versus using it only as a thin layer of mulch on top, is likely to cause problems by locking up nutrients (can have a serious impact on N availability) during the process of composting, making them unavailable to the plant.  Once the material is composted, it's all good again.  I'd definitely avoid mixing in any uncomposted wood products. 
 
If you want to make the soil go farther, products like peat moss or coir are probably a better idea.  You may have to supplement nutrients more so than with 100% quality (undiluted) mix, but you won't run into the lockup problems.
 
- and good luck with your first season in the new digs.
 
 
I grow in composted pine bark all the time.  It's the best stuff I've ever used.  In fact, with my grow right now, I planted out around October, and I haven't even fertilized.  I've already had some pretty huge harvests.  Mind you, I'm in raised beds, and they're flush full with composted pine bark, and sitting on top of earth. (~12" deep)
.
Even uncomposted bark works phenomenally well.  You have to have a shit ton of wood left in the bark, for it to be a problem.  That's easily offset with a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer.  
 
Update - The season went great, my peppers produced a lot of great tasting fruit.

Question - preparig for next year I'd like to start composting some pine bark over the winter (zone 8, so winter is not real cold).
How long does it need to compost to be safe? Is there any danger in attracting termites while it is composting?

Thanks for all the advice guys - love this forum!
 
Hey marxxx. I'll defer to someone with experience composting barks, but congratulations on having such a good season.
Thank you CaneDog!!!

I have been doing some research and it looks like it could take anywhere from 2-6 months depending on variables (size of chunks, amount being composted, temp and whether or not additives are used.
I started composting a little over a yard of pine bark mini nuggets hoping it will be well composted by early spring.
 
Question - preparig for next year I'd like to start composting some pine bark over the winter (zone 8, so winter is not real cold).
How long does it need to compost to be safe? Is there any danger in attracting termites while it is composting?

2-3 years. And then keep top dressing it with any stage of pine bark, year in, year out, after that.

Also, you don't "attract" termites. If there's termites in your stuff, they were already in the vicinity. They move in roving colonies, and we don't do an awful lot to influence that. However, bark isn't a termite magnet. If you have some buried Hugekultur, that's a different story. But then, I'd absolutely welcome the termites, in that instance. They are phenomenally beneficial insects, so long as they stay out of your house. FYI - general rule of thumb - if you see termites, you don't have an ant problem, and vice versa. (since ants and termites don't tend to peacefully coexist) Ants are the worse problem in the garden, due to their "farming" habits.
 
If you feed your compost some nitrogen it will greatly speed up the composting. Alfalfa meal is a good cheap source and so is chicken coop waste. Pig crap being one of the best if you want to get it cooking HOT. Neighbors might get a bit pissed from the fart volcano during the winter. Dump all your kitchen veggie and fish/seafood waste on top of chipped bark/wood/ect. Add layers of any yard waste like leaves and grass clippings.
 
If you feed your compost some nitrogen it will greatly speed up the composting. Alfalfa meal is a good cheap source and so is chicken coop waste. Pig crap being one of the best if you want to get it cooking HOT. Neighbors might get a bit pissed from the fart volcano during the winter. Dump all your kitchen veggie and fish/seafood waste on top of chipped bark/wood/ect. Add layers of any yard waste like leaves and grass clippings.
Doesn't really apply so much for bark, except that it could help get rid of excess wood in the bark mix (which isn't typically a problem, even in bagged pine bark fines, with visible levels of wood). In general, though, for planting with composted pine bark as a primary, you don't want a lot of other stuff in there. Especially manures. And even more so, if it's for container planting. You want the pine bark to retain its structure, as much as possible.
 
I've been using some pine fines (3/8") this year straight out of the bag, 50/50 with leaf compost, but mainly for potted young trees. I was taught that it was a good, cheap structural element that gradually broke down to a humus as the plant grew and established. So, it's kind of a 2 for 1 component; a time-released soil. I'm considering growing my few next year's superhots in 5 gal buckets and will definitely be going heavy on the fines. I've already started working on some old recipes for my baby plants because I have much better success letting the soil cycle for a couple months or more to allow the microbes to establish and start breaking down the organic ferts into "baby food".

Thinking out loud here....

-let's say to make 1 cf (7.5 gals) of this container mix I'd start with 4 gal of compost and 1 gal of the bark fines(fresh of broken down) as my "sponge". I buy leaf compost by the yard but mushroom compost by the bag is probably a little better compost(unless you have really old homemade leaf compost that would be primo). Now add your favorite organic ferts to the sponge, 1 cup Plant-Tone (or any of the Tones really, 2 cups of alfalfa pellets, and maybe a cup of kelp meal -basically your choice of ratio so long as it's not too "hot", but whatever you use, 3-4 cups / 1 cf max. Variety is good. Add 1 cup of Ag Lime (not hydrated lime), 4 cups of Glacial Rock Dust. (I'm told Azomite will work and easier to find) GRC is inert, but gives a vital anchor to soil microbes. Add a few tablespoons of epsom salt too. Dampen slightly, mix and store in a container or bag or tarp burrito to keep barely moist (never wet). Keeping outside is ok but some warmth will allow the microbes to cycle faster. Mix in the final 2.5 gals of plain fines 2-8 weeks prior (or even the day) of potting the plant -tweak as needed to make sure you have enough bark to areate the mix. I think the pepper plant should be 6 weeks old at least and vigorous before putting in this mix. Measurements don't need to exact. I learned this technique/recipe/strategy from InTheGarden (Ganga Girl) on grasscity.com forums. It has worked for me.
 
The local growers mix i can get is
40% aged pine fines
40% compost
20% rice hulls

Ive used it twice with great luck. It does however dry out fast in grow bags so pans under the bags are a must in the summer heat. The additional watering also seems to make it need more nutrients but the stuff flat out worked. Personally i liked it better with a little high quality mushroom compost added and a big scoop of Chick N Poo in each pot/bag. Love that stuff for only $9/25lbs. Great for times when we get a lot of rain.
 
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Here in the land of hot and humid, we use a mix that is:

80% composted pine bark fines
10% peat moss
10% sand

And it is just about the best thing that I've ever used. Good for about 3 years in containers, good forever in raised beds (providing the beds have an open bottom)
 
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