Amey--Thank you. I agree that it is important to understand the reasons for doing something. I hope my posts don't make me seem too simple-minded, but the nuances of complex science often do elude me. When I was reading that previous thread about how to determine if your mount is good quality, I got to the part about the TDS meter and thought "I wonder how the meters measure TDS?" I do admit sometimes the sheer volume of orchid info is overwhelming, but I feel like I've done reasonably well assimilating in my first year. One of my favorite things about orchid collecting is the fact that there is always more to learn. (But another side of me sometimes wants to be able to just dump a little fertilizer in the water and trust that I can't do too much damage.)

So, if there's no feed left for microorganisms, heat treatment is unnecessary? Some vendors advertise Rexius bark as being heat treated to 375F for 30 minutes. Teena, I suppose that would be a safe temperature? Not sure I want to test it out in my kitchen, though.

Teena, Thank you for posting the process for making paper. I wonder if using soda would alter the ph too much for orchids?

Neoh--thank you for that info. I will have to find a large pot to try this method with some of my bark. I wish I had a source of ferns! If I can get the bark processed properly, I have friends who make several trips to the camp in Montana each year that could bring me some bark. The big log that extends into the foreground in this picture is a douglas fir--you could pot a respectable sized collection just in that one. Name:  DSCF1082 (640x480).jpg
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Thank you all!