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Type of bark for my own mix.

This is a discussion on Type of bark for my own mix. within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I have been offered 80 litres of bark chippings about half to inch square for ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Type of bark for my own mix.

    I have been offered 80 litres of bark chippings about half to inch square for free (my favourite price). It is pine but I am not sure what pine.

    Can I use it in making my own mix with my own grown sphagnum moss from my very own bog garden? If so should I sterilize it in the microwave (I see household tantrums) before use, to get rid of snail eggs and other nasties or will simple washing do?

    Or is this just Yorkshire cheapskate pie in the sky and a real no-no?

  2. #2
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    I would not use if, if for no other reason than that the bark is liable to break down much faster than the bark sold for the purpose of potting orchids.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Don. As I said, I am new to orchids apart from a period in 2007 when I managed to kill 20+ orchids with kindness in about a month. The thought processes are certainly different from 'soil' gardening where you want the growing medium to compost, and I hadn't thought of that.

    Regards

    John.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Germinatorman View Post
    I would not use if, if for no other reason than that the bark is liable to break down much faster than the bark sold for the purpose of potting orchids.
    I would also add that Pine Bark usually has a lot of sap in it. May not be the best thing to use to pot your orchids.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    I second BD's advice. The pine bark that comes from New Zealand called Orchiata for orchid growing has been aged for 5 years and buffered with gypsum before it can be used for orchid growing. Keep in mind that you want things as benign as possible for the orchids.

  6. #6
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    Unfortunately 'Orchiata' is a trade name and is not available in the UK. I'll have to do some research here to find a good one that is available in small quantities (about 20 litres). I'm getting addicted but not wholesale addicted yet. Lol.

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    Just a matter of time, John, just a matter of time.

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    I am told that pine bark is quite acidic in its original state. I now use a commercial Oz product that claims to have been 'composted'.
    In my ignorance a few years ago, I acquired some bark from a local landscape supply company that had been 'rumbled' i.e. all the sharp points had been abraded away.
    I soaked the bark in water in a plastic garbage bin to which I added a liberal quantity of lime with the idea of neutralising the acid and used it for potting orchids. The orchids grew happily and I really can't see any difference from those grown in the commercial product - maybe I was lucky.

    Scrubber

  9. #9
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    As a new orchid grower I obviously can't comment on this from that point of view Scrubber. As somebody with a scientific background, I must say it makes perfect sense for the acid problem (as long as you don't leave the lime in and end up with too alkaline a medium). What I would be more worried about is BD's comment about sap. Pine is also high in resin, which is good for some types of mushroom, but I shouldn't imagine it being much of a help in orchid growing. The only practical way of getting rid of this is to age the chips (maybe yours was already aged), which, whilst I am all in favor of doing with fine wines, I can't imagine having a pile of bark chippings lying around for a year or two just to (possibly) save a few GBPs. I may try it with just a couple of cheap 'general store' orchids though out of interest.

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