Bark for making potting soil

keepitlow(6)June 22, 2010

I can get 'Hardwood Fines Mulch'. Will that be OK for making fig potting soil?

I use mainly screened garden soil, peat, sand and bark / mulch. But the bark I used to use came from my fruit trees I would buy in pots and recycle the bark. Now I am out of that stuff.

The only other mulch they have locally is all that dyed / colored stuff.


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

.... not a good choice for several reasons. Hardwood products break down quickly and at some point during the composting process you'll get a very high pH spike. Because they break down very quickly, which pretty much ensures a high degree of N immobilization, they also generate high temperatures as they compost in the containers (like a hot compost pile) which is a more significant issue than most growers realize. Conifer bark, otoh, is rich in the lipid, suberin, which dramatically impedes the ability of microorganisms to cleave the hydrocarbon chains the bark is made of; so, pine bark breaks down so slowly none of these issues are of much consideration, though fresh bark (and even peat) does temporarily cause some N immobilization .... easy to remedy by using fertilizers with more N than either P or K. I've settled on 3:1:2 ratios as the best choice for container culture, partly for that reason, but also because my trees all seem happiest and perform best with that ratio.

Where do you live? It would be helpful if you just included your state or a large city near you in your user info so we could all see. The reason I ask is> after years of helping people figure out recipes and find container soil ingredients, I can sometimes offer insights, and it might help me gauge how difficult/easy it might be for you to find pine (or fir) bark in your neighborhood.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 5:04PM
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Thanks Al,

I checked with another source and they have something called 'Rustic Pine' mulch. Is that OK?

I was shopping at a Lowes in OH and tried another store near my mom in Wash PA that had the pine.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 5:08PM
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I use pine bark nuggets about 3.00 for 2 cu ft. the large chuncks i break up and mix in with my compost perlite lime and osmocote. After i pot up i top off my containers with a layer of pine bark nuggets to help the soil from being disturbed during watering.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 6:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The soil I use for figs & all my woody material looks like this:

but a lot of people use a soil made from pine bark with a small amount of peat and perlite in it, like the one in the middle of this picture:

The picture also gives you an idea of what the best size bark is. The product at 3,6, and 9, are all from different packagers and I was able to find them all within a few miles of my home. The bark product at the top is fir, and what I use to make the gritty mix in the first pic.

Whether or not the rustic mulch is ok depends on the size. If you use a product that's too coarse, you won't be able to keep up with the watering. It's difficult to find pine bark that's too fine for the soil at the middle of the second picture. Proper size bark is more important in the gritty mix in the first pic. Fafard makes a product called "Aged Pine Bark", and that is about the finest product I've seen out there. You might see if you have a Fafard's dealer in your area if you want to try the 5:1:1 mix of Pine bark fines:peat:perlite.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 7:29PM
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Thanks for feedback.

I looked at some of Lowes pine and it is black, semi-wet and smells musty. Looks like shredded course hair and not chunks of bark. (At least what was coming out of one end of their bags. Did not dig in the middle.)

Maybe if it dries out it will turn brown like in your photos. Am going to check with a nursery tomorrow.
Who would think pine bark would be so hard to find?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 8:02PM
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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

Check Walmart purple bag here Pine Bark Mulch. It is small enough here at times that there is no need to break up about the size of a dime to nickel should be fine. IMHO

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 8:32AM
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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

Here is a pic

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 10:04AM
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