Separating my 5-1-1 mix

peppernoviceMay 7, 2012

I know we are supposed to remove the white pieces of wood (aka. match sticks, sap wood, etc.) from our pine bark mulch. The thing is, I don't know why we remove it. Does it rot and cause problems for the plant? Does it soak up water and nutrients? Does it turn into a volatile mixture and explode like TNT? I have no idea. Would it be possible for one of you old salty Chile heads to elaborate? I like to know why I do stuff, I'm just funny that way.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Its a difference in how it breaks down as it decomposes. The white wood gets digested by bacteria that use up a lot of nitrogen in the process, sucking it out of the soil and starving the plant of its most important nutrient.

Pine bark doesn't lock up the nitrogen as quickly since it doesn't break down as fast, while still giving good texture to promote good drainage.

Least thats my understanding of it, I may be wrong.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That sounds good to me. I just hate bending over for an hour picking out wood, and wouldn't even be able to say why I was doing it. I was that kid in school that asked 100 questions. You know, the one the teachers hated. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think you got it perfect, Edymnion. That's what I was thinking and just went to refresh my memory and that's the gist of what I took away.

It was good of you to point out that with the bark it doesn't happen as quickly - but it still does happen. So, you need to fertilize frequently.

One thing I didn't find while searching, but, thought I read at some point was something to do with changing the ph during decomposition. Man, I wish I could find it, because now, I just question my memory. argh!!! LOL Does anyone recall anything about that?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yeah, you guys covered it.
The sapwood decomposes more quickly, which definitely leads to compaction of the media,
and can potentially lead to nitrogen immobilization and even heat spikes (during decomp).
In general, it's best if the sapwood is no more than 5 - 10 percent of the bark/mulch.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lorabell NC(8)

Speaking of 5-1-1..

This stuff can be reused 3-5 years? When will I know it's not good any more?

Can the large pieces and woods be used for mulch around my regular garden or should they just be thrown away?

I'm 10 days and 10 containers down, a big bunch to go... Our Walmart gives the 5 gal containers for free at the bakery department...last night they refered to me as the 'bucket lady'. Don't know how I think about that!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 6:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Free 5 gallons from the bakery at Walmart? Um... excuse me... I need to go to walmart for something completely unrelated now...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lorabell - you can use the larger pieces for mulch, no problem. In fact, my GF needed some mulch so I gave her what didn't pass through a 1/2" screen. :-)

Based on reading (not experience) 5-1-1 is primarily a 1 year use, but, can be used 2-3 years.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Tsheets is right, the 5-1-1 is meant for a single season, but can be pressed into service
longer in a pinch. Here's the main consideration to be made: particle size. If you start
with a well-composted bark product, then the bark will be completely broken down in a season;
but if you are using an uncomposted bark, such as I do, then your bark can potentially last
for several years. As we often say, The Mix will probably last longer than it would be wise to
let a plant go between re-potting (due to the root-congestion in the container).

Many of my 5-1-1 mixes don't contain Peat or potting soil at all...just fine bark dust for retention,
and then Perlite and Turface or Lava rock to add in structure, durability, aeration, and control of
the moisture retention. With these ingredients, and by using only synthetic fertilizer, my mix breaks
down quite slowly.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:55AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
New to H. Peppers and a few questions
Hi all I am going to try my hand at hot peppers this...
SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC
Found a nationwide compromise for 5-1-1 at Home Depot
Miracle Grow Organic Choice soil is actually made of...
Fish pepper info?
Once more turning to my hot pepper elders... I used...
My Carolina Reapers and Naga Viper need help!
As you can see from the pictures above each of the...
Favorite Website Links
Bookmark this page! (and feel free to add to the list...
Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™