Where to get pine bark fines in the bay

flipback23(9 SF Bay)February 26, 2014

Are any of you guys from the bay area using the 5-1-1 mix. I went to all the local big box and a couple nurseries by house in the east bay. And none of them had pine bark fines. I saw orchid bark and pine bark chunks but all of the options where very big sized pieces of bark. Even the ones that said small size were more like 1/2 inch on up sized bark pieces. The only one I found with smaller bark chunks was MG orchid starter mix but that is not cost effective for the amount of pots I want to set up. If not im gonna stick to my raised bed mix I used that last year that worked well for all my maters and other veggies.
Thanks
Rey....

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Unlikely to find them there. And if you do, they will be costly due to shipping from elsewhere in the US

redwood is the more common material where you live.

This post was edited by jean001a on Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 0:33

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:56PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Under the circumstance, probably your best bet is to get the one you described as "small bark" and run it through a wood chipper. This way you should end up with a good combination. Or you may choose to use one of those garden heavy packing tools to crush them manually. (see picture below)

Bark materials are mainly for mulching in the landscape and are sold for couple of bucks per cubic yard. So with the high cost of transportation, they are distributed locally. I can get them here at LOWES. They have all sizes from large nuggets down to crushed mulch.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:34PM
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woohooman

Rey: Try Armstrong Nursery. There's a couple up there in the bay area.

Ask them if they have MicroBark by GreenAll, Parent company is E.B. Stone.

Costs about 10 buck for 2 c.f. down here. Very little sapwood, very little screening. 90-95% of it is usable.

It's FIR bark fines, which is fine. I've heard that it's actually preferred.

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:35PM
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brian6464(4a)

Rey,

One option that will work in a pinch if you do not need a lot, you can use Repti-Bark from Petco or Petsmart. This is 100% fir bark and it ranges from 1/4 to 1/2" tops. I'd say most is around 1/4". A 10 quart bag will run you around $10, so it is expensive. But like I said, if you just need some for a few pots, it would be fine.

You can by 24 qt bags on Amazon for under $20, I think. Still expensive though.

You could also by discounted gift cards to the pet stores at sites like Cardpool and then pay in store with an effective discount of 10 to 20%.

I live in MN and I can't even find pine bark fines here this time of year. It just is not a big seller. A local nursery is making their own this year, but it won't be available until the snow recedes. It is just difficult to find in economical quantities.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:49PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

Thanks all. I wasn't planning on trying the 5-1-1 but figured since I've babied my plants for this long might as well try it on a few and see if it's a huge difference compared to what I used in my raised beds and pots last year. Will see what I can scrounge up. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:02PM
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esox07

I am not sure if you have any K-Marts still in existence in the bay area but that is where I found my source for pine bark. I struggled for two or three years before I found anything usable. This stuff does require some screening however even if you have a K-mart and they carry it.
Here is a photo of the stuff I used and it shows the UPC code as well. It was close to $4 per bag.

This post was edited by esox07 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 21:43

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:41PM
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esox07

This is what I wound up with after screening it:

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:46PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

esox07, looking at your second pic makes me wonder if my grow mulch from kellogs would work kinda close to that. Its storming outside right now but tomorrow I'll go out and take a pic and see if you guys think it would work. Again thanks for the help. Okay nevermind couldnt wait til tomorrow lol this is the mulch i have. Isnt close but would still light up my mix more.
Rey

This post was edited by flipback23 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 22:57

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 10:20PM
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esox07

flipback23: I can almost guarantee that you will sorely regret using that stuff to grow peppers. First of all, 5-1-1 is supposed to use pine or fir BARK. You have little to no bark in that sample. That is shredded wood. I tried to use a similar product about two years ago and basically killed off half my plants.
In my photo, you will notice some wood pulp as well, but very little compared to the chunks of bark.
Use that stuff for Mulch around the house in the spring and find a different source...mark my words, you will be sorry if you don't.

Check out this link to my 2012 grow blog. It documents my problems and shows the product that I used. It is very similar to yours. It will show how I came very close to losing my whole crop before I finally decided it must be the type of soil and repotted everything with fresh soil.
http://www.tumblr.com/blog/2012pepper

Bruce

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:50PM
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woohooman

Yeah: I wouldn't use that either in containers. If I were to use anything made by Kellogg's it would be 'Nrich or the Potting soil. They won't hold up structurally like bark, but I've had good success with it in barrels with added sphagnum and perlite.

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:20AM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

Thanks Bruce and Kevin, back to the hunt then this weekend lol. Man my regular veggies aren't this stressful lmao.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:34AM
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woohooman

Rey: Many people have and still do grow peppers and all sorts of veggies in normal potting mixes. The idea behind the 5-1-1 is to maximize the growth potential of ANY type of plant.

I wasn't overly impressed with it the 1st year, but last year my superhots did excellent. I've still yet to get a GREAT year from a large fruited annuum with it, but I've only tried THEM in 5 gal buckets with the stuff. Perhaps, this year, I'll try an Anaheim or Bell with it in a #15 container.

Try Armstrong's, like I mentioned. 1 bag plus the peat and perlite will get you about 4 Five gallon buckets filled.

Whatever bark you get, get it now and poke a bunch of holes in the bag and let sit in the rain. It works much better composted some. Make sure you hydrate the peat also.

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 2:17AM
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esox07

Yah, I suggest you don't stress out over the 5-1-1. Just find a good potting soil and add perlite to increase drainage. Perlite is usually readily available. Keep your eyes open and that pine bark source might just pop up out of no where.
Probably 75% of the people on this forum use a more standard soil mix and do great with it.
Good luck.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:14AM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

Cool thanks guys. I did fine with my potting mix last year, got great amount of jalapenos, bells, and ghost. I still wanna try a few of my super hots in the 5-1-1 if I can. Will keep ya updated.
Rey

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 10:26AM
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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

I got mine from a tree nursery that also specialized in bagged mulch. the people at lowes and home depot had never even heard of pine fines. so if you really wanna try it, call around to some nurseries and places that sell mulch. lots of them won't list it on the website, but do still carry it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:04AM
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esox07

Yes, call around to nurseries and even landscaping outfits. You might strike gold. If you can find it in bulk like that, you can probably get a pickup bed load for $25 which would probably put the cost per 5 gallon pail of the stuff at about .50 cents. But you have to be very selective. Right material, relatively pure, proper size. But for now, just plan on your normal growing medium and use the summer to snoop around for next year's supply of pine/fir bark.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:27PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

So I found a place 5 mins from me that sells these different bark types in bulk. See link below. If any of them have a chance of working it is super cost effective. Like 20+/- bucks a yard for the bark. I have no problem acquiring perilite and peat. Hope the link works. Im going to check them out this weekend.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bulk bark

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:28PM
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esox07

maybe mini red bark or small bark if they are actually Pine or Fir bark. It is really hard to tell with the photos so small and there is no real size reference. As far as the "red" bark goes, I am not sure if the colored stuff is OK or not. Basically, you want the size to be about the size of a thumbnail and smaller.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:43PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I heard somewhere that the "red" mulch is soaked in chemicals. Not sure but it bears checking out before investing perfectly good seeds...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 5:59PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

You've gotten good advice :-)

Just to emphasize...do not use colored or dyed mulch.

You want raw bark - Pine or Fir - in small pieces (no larger than 1/2 inch).

Josh

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:16PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

So did some hunting around and checked out the bulk place and the red mini looked dyed and the small bark was very big. Also the 2 kmarts near me dont sell the bark mentioned by Bruce. I did find a bark mulch from earthgro called ground cover bark. The bark pieces are very small in fact, and with screening looks like I can get a decent mount of the right sized bark for 5-1-1. The only issue is it does not say what type of bark it is.It says made from forest products. I bought it at home depot for 4 bucks for 2cf. I searched gw and people use it in the container gardening forum for plants and it works for them. So Im gonna give it a shot on a few plants and if it works I know for next year. Plus 4 bucks a 2cf bag is pretty cheap vs the gas money to drive 45mins away for a place that might sell what I need lol.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:55PM
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esox07

Pine bark is generally going to be flatter chunks. You can see that in the picture I posted above. If it is other kinds of bark, they won't normally be as flat. If you found that they are using it in containers to grow other plants, it is likely suitable for peppers. Good luck and keep us posted on how it works out for you.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:09PM
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OffbeatJenn

Mid-City Nursery in American Canyon sells Greenall Micro Bark for ~$7 per 2 cu ft bag. EarthGro is much cheaper, but it's inconsistent and requires a lot more work to be usable (IMO).

Hope that helps!

This post was edited by OffbeatJenn on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 23:57

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:51PM
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bluegirl_gw

Lowe's sells a "HapiGro Landscape Mix" that looks to be 90% pine bark fines with a bit of perlite. Under $4/bag.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:59PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Lowe's sells a "HapiGro Landscape Mix" that looks to be 90% pine bark fines with a bit of perlite. Under $4/bag.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Eventually, somebody is going to market bark based potting mix. It is only a matter of time, for the idea to spread around.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:09AM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

Thanks all,
Jenn for me its easier to stick with the earthgro for now, dont really wanna drive 45 mins and spend the gas lol. I dont mind the extra work. I bought 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 screen to separate the bark.

bluegirl my lowes doesnt carry the hapigro.

Bruce Im going to try and screen the bark this weekend, will keep you all posted.

One more question when people say sapwood that is just the non bark wood correct, that I wanna keep as much out as possible right.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:34AM
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esox07

flipback: yes, sapwood is the woody part of the plant.
Also, if you have a source for that "Greenall" product, you might want to check that out. I beleive that is the stuff that Greenman28 uses and it is about as perfect as you can get. Maybe Greenman (josh) can clarify that for us. JOSH???

Bruce

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:23PM
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esox07

Yep, I was right. Here is a post by Josh on another thread:
---------------------------------
Posted by greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 10, 13 at 20:06

Not bad, not bad.

Your Perlite is excellent. I wish I still had a local source for the coarse stuff.

I, too, use Greenall Micro Bark. I screen over 1/2-inch hardware cloth and keep everything that falls through. I'm curious what you mean by "too-small bits"? - you want to include the fine bark dust to aid in "binding" the ingredients and equalizing moisture retention. The bark dust is important because the Greenall product is not composted as far as I can tell.

The sapwood is the light-colored "match stick" looking stuff that can be seen especially well in the last picture you posted. I do a hand-picking of the sapwood after screening the bark, but mostly I just make sure to add some slow-release fertilizer to offset the potential Nitrogen immobilization mentioned by Oxboy.

Oxboy, Greenall is Fir bark, which is probably why it looks shredded...it is more "furry" (haha!) than Pine bark, for sure. And this product is fresh, not composted.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:26PM
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OffbeatJenn

It was Josh's recommendation that prompted me to use the EB Stone website to track down a local distributor. Glad I did, it seems to be much better quality than the Earthgro I'd been using. I screened the first batch, but determined it's not necessary to do so for my purposes. For my current situation, the value in not having to screen it is immense.

Flip, the screened Earthgro should be fine. Depending on the batch and how much you lose screening, it may be much more economical, especially if you're growing dozens of plants. It's not a bad option, depending on your situation. If you decide to try the Greenall, the EB Stone website is a good place to investigate closer suppliers.

Seysonn, I hope you're right about bark-based mixes becoming available in time, but I'm not holding my breath. I've been waiting eight years already, and the only market improvement I've seen is finding Greenall Micro Bark. With that said, plenty of people have great success in other mixes, the 5-1-1 is far from the only suitable growing media out there.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 4:31PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Seysonn, I hope you're right about bark-based mixes becoming available in time, but I'm not holding my breath

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Yeah. It will take some time for some smart alex to figure it out how to sell pine bark at 300%. That is how peat based potting mix is selling; They used to market a product down in GA, called "Water Saver" which as I remember was essentially pine bark fine.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 3:47PM
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esox07

Seysonn;

Yah, if someone does start marketing it as a container mix, it will be $15 a bag for what is now $5 a bag. Just like when they sell a shop light as a grow light. Instead of charging $10 for the shop light, they charge $25 and call it a grow light.

By the way, I just drove past the local Kmart and they have that pine bark that I use out in the parking lot on pallets already. Still 15 foot high snow piles next to it so I don't think they are too anxious to get it out and available to sell but they are still carrying it. You could try to talk to your local Kmart and see if they can't have some of it shipped in for you.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:15PM
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OffbeatJenn

I was curious, so I worked out the price of various versions of the basic 5-1-1, to see how it compared to bagged mixes. Using Greenall and coarse perlite that doesn't need screening, it turns out that I pay less for quality bagged mixes. But even using the least expensive components and not losing anything to screening, the 5-1-1 is more expensive than Miracle Grow, which falls right between bark and peat, price-wise.ÃÂ

Soil/ComponentÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ Price (cu ft)

Bark (Earthgro)ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 2.19
Peat (HD)ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 2.36
Miracle GrowÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 2.83
5-1-1 (Earthgro, Unscreened)ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 3.12
ScottsÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 3.50
5-1-1 (Earthgro, Screened, 15% loss factor)ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 3.60
Bark (Greenall)ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 4.00
ProMixÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 5.00
Master's Pride Professional Potting SoilÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 5.00
5-1-1 (Greenall, Coarse Perlite)ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 5.33
PerliteÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 8.50
Perlite (Coarse)ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ -ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ 15.00

This doesn't account for adding lime or CRF to the 5-1-1, or perlite to the bagged mixes. Most of them are based on buying 2 cu ft at a time, but the ProMix and peat come in larger compressed bales. One cu ft of medium should be enough for ten "1 gallon" containers or two "5 gallons".ÃÂ

And I misspoke earlier, the Master's Pride actually is bark-based, it just has a fine particle size, not in line with the concept we are talking about. I guess I shouldn't complain though, things have improved over the years, at least in the Bay.ÃÂ

And no guarantees on my math. ÃÂ :-)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 2:54AM
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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

it's a shame it's so expensive over there. down here the 5-1-1 comes out to about $2.60 per cu ft. mainly because I'm getting pine bark fines (with maybe 2% loss to screening) for under $3 for 2 cu ft.

I'm telling you guys, call mulch places. they might not list it on their website, but they probably have it.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 3:11AM
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OffbeatJenn

I've called every mulch places in my area, none carry the appropriate size. It's frustrating, because they all carry too small and too big, it makes me wonder what the heck they did with all the stuff in between.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:21AM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

I did the same as Jenn everyone that sells mulch near me has wrong sizes as well. I can get the greenall but have to drive 45mins to an hour lol. To me not worth the time. So I now settled on the earthgro. I screened my first batch last night. From a 2cf bag I lost less than half a 5 gal bucket worth to oversize bark. Doesn't seem to bad to me. There was a good amount of sapwood though maybe a qtr of bucket that I had to pick out so far but again worth the effort at $4 per 2cf vs 10$ + 3.85(gas per gal at 11mpg in my guzzler truck)+$5(bridge toll) for one bag of greenall.

So that's easy math to me lol. I can get at least 5x as much earthgro bags. The only downside is picking out the sapwood. Even then I'll just watch for nitrogen issues after I get to lazy to pick it all out. lol. I still think it will be better than potting mix. I'm still go one do potting mix as well just for comparison since I have multiples of each type of pepper, so I know for next season.

This post was edited by flipback23 on Thu, Mar 6, 14 at 11:03

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:57AM
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woohooman

I did the same as Jenn everyone that sells mulch near me has wrong sizes as well. I can get the greenall but have to drive 45mins to an hour lol.

LOL.. you would have saved that time in the screening. Microbark really doesn't need it. Just the sapwood and an occasional 3/4" piece of bark.

Yeah. I wouldn't drive that far for just ONE bag. But there's very little waste. I got over 20 gallons of 5-1-1 from 1 bag + the peat and perlite. I think it was one bag. it was a couple years ago.

Kevin

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 1:19PM
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esox07

Judo, I called probably two dozen places within an hour of me. I stopped by and looked in person at another dozen. And when I ask about pine or fir bark fines, they all give me that "WTF" kind of look or they wind up taking me to some shredded pulp wood and claim that it is pine bark. Another 5 or 10 years and it will be more well known outside certain areas. But, this is the midwest, we are always the last to catch up.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 2:31PM
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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

if you've got a big truck like that, why would you drive out there and only get one bag? I'd have loaded up. the place near me that sell pine fines is only about 3 miles away, so making the trip to only get 2 bags at a time (my trunk is small, I drive a honda civic) isn't that big of a deal.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 4:19PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

Judo,
I would totally load up my truck if there was a place close by. What Im saying is at 10 bucks a bag plus all the other side cost it isnt worth it to me. Id rather drive 2 mins buy a bunch of earthgro bags and deal with the screening. Which really didnt take me that long anyways.Thats just my opinion though lol. But when I do have to head toward any of the spots that sell the good stuff I will pick it up then.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 5:27PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

Finally got me some good bark fines. A buddy needed help moving over the weekend and what do you know was to an area that had a nursery recommended by woohooman. I Stopped by Armstrong Garden Center in Dublin for those from the bay, And picked up four bags of Greenall micro bark. I mixed up a batch of 5-1-1 with one bag and got almost 20 gallons of finished 5-1-1 mix. Thanks all for the advice. After Im done mixing the rest of the bags up I should have enough for all my peppers I plan to put in containers. I also plan on using it on some of my tomatoes as well. When all said and done I should have around 25 peppers in 5-1-1 10 in my raised beds(mels mix) and 10 tomatoes in 5-1-1 containers plus 10 tomatoes in my raised beds.
Rey...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:02PM
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esox07

Good luck. Glad you got something that will work for you.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:47PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It all depends on the sources and quality of pine stuff to make 5-1-1:

I buy pine products for $2/cf. I got two kinds"
-1- one is called "small Nuggets". it has maybe 10% pieces bigger than 1/2" (largest maybe 5/8"). This one does not have much fines smaller than 1/4".

=2= Second kind is called "Pine bark Mulch". It is mostly crushed/composted, not much coarser than peat moss.

I mix one bag of each. The result comes out JUST PERFECT.
Yesterday I made/mixed about 60 gallons of it. I have to add perlite, peat, and lime when I am ready to pot.

The cost " pine fine: $2.00/cf . Peat moss cost: $3/cf. Perlite $6/cf.

So the final 5-1-1 per cf comes out " $2.80/cf. Add lime , at the most it will come out under $3.00/cf.

This post was edited by seysonn on Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 14:01

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:22PM
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