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Re: Potting soils

Fafard makes a number of different mixes. We use Fafard #52 and I think it's excellent for hostas.  They also have a mix called "nursery mix" or something like that, and it has even more bark.  We would use it but it's much heavier and hard for the ladies to handle the bags.  Hard for old men too, but it's more manly to blame it on the ladies.

We use Fafard #3B for annuals and pot plants.  It's a good mix but much too light for hostas.  I've used it for hostas in the past but got way too much rot.  

I've tried mixing very fine pine bark with the Fafard to make it drain even faster and save a little money.  I was just experimenting so I just built a big bin and did it with a shovel.  It's far more work than you would think and very difficult to get a uniform mix.  One real advantage to the bagged mix is the wetting agent that's incorporated.  Especially if you have any peat in your mix, it makes life a lot easier.

There are some local companies around here that will mix to order by the dump truck load, and their prices are very reasonable, but I've heard some horror stories and I wouldn't take the chance.  I don't see anything wrong with using all bark as long as you can supply enough water.  I suspect it's going to dry out very quickly.

As to Marie's question about long term use in pots, I would think that something besides peat would be even more important over several years.  I three years the peat is going to rot and be much too heavy.  


Dan & Lu Nelson wrote:
Thanks Chick and thanks to everyone else who offered us help deciding what potting mix to use. We had about 10 responses including some very good private ones.
We bought some bagged Fafard mix that is peat, perlite and pine bark. It's a light mix. The 70 yards of aged ground pine bark comes in next Tuesday. We plan on using some of the bark and comparing the bark and the Fafard . One local hosta grower uses 100 ground pine bark and seems to do really well. The rest of the pine bark we're going to cover with a tarp to keep weed seeds out and let it age some more. It looks like if we took Chick's advice we could just mix a little pine bark in with the Fafard and it would make the Fafard go a little further.
We talked to the people at Fafard about buying in bulk......it cost $3,250 for a 90 cubic yard load...which is both more money and more soil that we need at the moment. By the bag cost more but we can get just how much we want......and not ten years worth.
Dan & Lu
----- Original Message -----
From: Chick
Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 10:17 PM
Subject: Re: Potting soils

I know this topic goes back a while, but a salesman just brought us some new potting mix to try and since the fact sheet just happened to have the ingredients listed, here goes:

65% aged pine bark
21% peat moss
7% perlite

It seems like a fairly decent mix, though I wouldn't mind an even higher percentage of bark.  I'm not sure what good the perlite and vermiculite do in a mix that would normally only be used for a year or so.  Frankly, I think if I was doing it, I'd probably go 75-80% bark and the rest peat.  If you're going to do 70 yards, I sure hope you've got a mixing machine of some sort, cause doing it by hand is going to be a bear.  Don't forget a good wetting agent.

I still think you'd be better off buying it bagged.


Dan & Lu Nelson wrote:
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Lu and I are going to start selling hostas next spring and we are going to start digging and potting up soon.
We would love some feedback on potting soils. I can get 70 cubic yards of ground pine bark for $850 delivered. It is available fine ground and 1/2 inch ground. Which to use? Add compost and sand? or not?
I'm looking to the professions growers on this list for some feedback. We will be potting into one and two gallon pots.
Any tips on pH testing of potting soils, lime, gypsum and pH of irrigation water would be greatly appreciated.
We promise we won't run anyone out of business!
Dan & Lu Nelson
Pixie Forrest
Auburn GA

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