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Pine Bark Fines for 511 - Boston Area HELP

Treegeek Z6a (Boston)
November 30, 2018

Looking for anyone who has successfully found partially composted pine Bark Fines in the Boston area. I thought I found the right ones, other members are now saying to go back to the drawing board. Darn.

Where did you find them?

Any photos of the bag they came in?

Attached is what I am using currently

Comments (18)

  • vaporvac

    Where are you using them? They are also sold as Soil Conditioner. I used to find it easily in the Big Box stores, but now all I find is Coir. I wanted to use it for rooting roses. If you need a lot, try call one the your local supplier of mulch and top soil. They usually have many choices and mixes for planters and topping, one of which is pine fines.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Call your nearest Agway and ask them to order the pine bark for you. Most, it seems, do not carry it. The stores here in Pittsburgh will order it for no extra charge. Perlite needs to be coarse horticultural grade. You still need to sift out the dust below 1/8 inch.

    Second it is hard to tell from the pic of the bag what it actually contains. Especially the bark can be all over the place. So a pic or two with a dime for reference helps.

    Dolomite lime is the right lime - they come in powdered form or in pellets. Either will be fine. The powder mixes in and reacts quicker. The pellets take a little while to work their way through the mix. I get the pellet (prilled) stuff and I leave the moist mix in bags for a few days to a week before using to let it react and mix well.

  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)

    Do we want composted pine bark or non composted pine bark? I swear I read in another thread the Agway stuff is NON composted.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Agway is non-composted but it will work fine for 511. In a month or two in the pot it will have partially decomposed especially in summer. Partially decomposed bark has better water absorption and nutrient holding capacity. So when using non-composted bark you will have to keep a watch out in the beginning to not let it dry out too much - it becomes hydrophobic quicker. So water well every time it needs water and that may be a bit more frequent in the beginning.

  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)

    Went to Agway. The manager was very familiar with forum members coming in for Pine Bark Fines. As soon as I mentioned forums and showed him the photo of the Agway bag he said "oh you want pine Bark Fines for 511?"

    I came home with this bag. He said it's the exact same product. It actually costs $1-$2 more for it to be in an Agway bag he said.

    Great guys over at the Waltham, MA Agway. Highly recommend supporting them.

  • vaporvac

    Thank you. I'm not at all near you, but at least now I know what I can get and have the same thing as soil conditioner. I was always afraid the pieces would be too large.

  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)
    I also bought screens to make sure I have something in the 3/8 range. If I'm going to do this it's worth the $20 investment
  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Never seen that bag from Agway. I presume they already know what you want. They have the best pine bark. Only if they carried fir bark I will be even happier. Can you post a pic of the bark itself? I think I paid like $8 or may be $9 - do not remember now. I have a stock pile of 10 bags now. Two of them I stored in a covered 55 gallon drum with a few handfuls of urea. They will be partially composted and may have some bit of nitrogen left from the urea.

    Mine look like this:

    And the bark:

  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)
    Yes I will tomorrow. With a dime as reference. :)

    Any tips on what size wood to use to make a frame for my screen?
  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)

    Here is what inside the bag looks like with a dime as reference.


  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)

    Here is before...

  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)

    Here is afterward and a shot of the oversize pieces. I hand picked some of the long slender sapwood that slid through the 1/2" screen.

    Note the size difference with a dime of the screened pile and oversize pile

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Looking very good - just like what I get. Now make your 511 with lime, moisten the mix and leave it in bucket/bag for a few days for the lime to react. I turn the mix a couple of times over a week and then use it. Some here use it right away with no apparent problems. I also mix in slow release fertilizer at half strength when I am making the mix.

  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)
    Are there enough fines here to skip the peat, or should I do a true 511 with peat and perlite?

    In the bucket.... Cover on or off?
  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Does not matter whether cover is on or off. Perlite has to be there in 511. Peat depends on how much pine fines are already in the bark portion. With Agway stuff, the fines portion is usually pretty low. So I will add peat. But if you want to more systematic then you will have to sift the fines out of the bark first to get an idea of its proportions. I use a 1/8 screen sometimes to get an idea of the composition.

  • Treegeek Z6a (Boston)
    Definitely will add perlite.

    I can use a 1/4" screen and get rid of that stuff, should I? Or should I just add some pest and call it a day? I don't mind the soil being a bit moisture retentive, especially in summer when they are outside and we are traveling
  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Just use it as such with peat and perlite. You will be fine.

  • mblan13

    TreeGeek, I concur with TOC. I wouldn't skip the peat with the AGWAY Pine Bark Mulch. A good thing to do would be to make a very small batch of 5-1-1 with AGWAY and peat and pearlite to exacting specs and save it to use as a reference to see how much (if any) peat I would need to add to a different product.

    I sometimes use a partially decomposed soil conditioner (Frey Brothers Soil Conditioner). When I do I often skip the peat altogether. It's more likely I'll have to have add more un-composted APBM to get the mix right.

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