Beetle-killed pine bark
I grow peppers and eggplant in containers, the major cost is potting soil. So last year I experimented filling the bottom 1/4 - 1/3 of my containers with bark off of beetle-killed pine trees, which I get for firewood. I probably saved a couple hundred bucks by incorporating the bark.
At the end of the season, I just snip off the plants and stack the containers/soil in a sheltered spot. I've started to dump some of these out, shake the dirt out and throw out the roots, start the process of getting ready for next season.
Pretty interesting to see the bark - they are just covered with rootlets, going into every crevice and bug hole in the bark, creating a very large, almost solid mass. So I started looking into this, and it turns out that in the SE where they grow pine for pulp, they successfully grow peppers in containers with just composted pine bark.
So now I'm busy using a small prybar to slip the bark off of my firewood, breaking up the pieces with my hands, collecting all kinds of the stuff, figuring I can use it for the main bulk of my container mix as well as incorporating it into the garden soil.
So, to get to the point, given that there is some 200 million acres of beetle killed pine in the Rockies, I thought I might point out that this is actually a pretty good resource for us gardeners. The bark I'm using is almost falling off the wood, its starting to decompose, the beetles are long gone but other bugs have started to work on the cambium and so on, lots of fungus. Looks like it may do some significant good.
So maybe the next time you're up in the mountains, take along a bag or two and fill it up. Wear gloves.
This post was edited by david52 on Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 19:02