Pine bark

Hi gardeners, i'm wondering if the pine bark may consider a slow absorption fertilizer or at least just a fertilizer.
The reason why i'm asking this is 'cause I use to take some pine bark form the pines in my neighborhood and add it to the potting earth (substratum) and I assume it provides some nutrients making the substratum fertile for my pott vegetables.
Thanks for replying and I'm sorry about my not-so-good english.
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SurfGirl


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Bacteria multiply in number while consuming wood, unfortunately they need nitrogen to do this, nitrogen that your plant would have gotten otherwise. If you are going to continue doing this, use fish emulsion twice a month as instructed on the bottle to provide nitrogen. If you re-use your potting mix, it will eventually be composted, and will be valuable for your plants. In any event, your potting mix needn't be more than 5% - 10% organic material. More than this, and the excess nutrients will simply be washed away with watering.
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On 4/7/12 9:30 AM, SurfGirl wrote:

There are few nutrients in pine or other bark. Bark that is broken into small chips can improve the structure of soil, but it actually removes nutrients while decomposing. Those nutrients are then returned only after the bark has become compost.
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Thank you very much for the information. So I understand that pine bark can be used to make home compost or add it to the regular or home-made compost, but not as a single fertilizer.
I'll keep that in mind next time when I improve my substratum.
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SurfGirl wrote:

For gardening pine bark is primarily used as a weed blocking mulch, because it decays so very slowly and does not support plant life. Pine bark is not a fertilizing agent as it contains very little plant nutrients. Pine bark decays much too slowly for adding to compost piles, and in fact pine bark repels microbes, insects, and worms... pine bark, because of its high resin content, acts in gardens like moth balls in closets. You'd no more want to add pine bark to compost as you'd want to add aromatic cedar... 20 years later the pine bark would still be in the same condition as the day it was added, only it will turn gray. Pine bark is sold at plant nurserys in variouly sized nuggets and shredded, it's meant for use as a weed blocking mulch only, it is NOT a soil amendment.
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Brooklyn1;955485 Wrote: > SurfGirl wrote:-

Thank you very much for the explanation, Brooklyn1. Yes, you're right pine bark can be very usefull for young fruit trees mulching as I've just saw in internet. That explains why i have none earth worms in the garden but ants I do have them.
Very funny thing its that I've never buy this stuff, I use to pick it from the soil under the pines just 'cause I've been told that makes acid the soil. Never mind, thank you very much for your information.
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I regularly renew the ground cover bark compost in my decorative plant beds -- and even around the base of the new fruit trees -- partly for water conservation, but mostly for appearance.
I have heard, as you suggest, that the act of decomposing removes nutrients, but have not looked deeply into the concept. Have there been any reliable studies that quantify this effect? And as a corollary, suggest how much more nutrients have to be added?
TIA
HB
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Higgs Boson wrote: ...

there is a large difference between bark on the surface used as a mulch and bark that is dug in and is being used as a soil amendment. the first breaks down slowly enough and should not have much impact upon soil fertility in the short term. longer term it will gradually add nutrients along with the rain. the latter will at first deplete nitrogen as it is decomposing, but then will release the nitrogen back to the soil. to help that along the first season i plant legumes.
so when using as a mulch adding nitrogen would defeat the purpose of using it as a decorative cover and moisture barrier.
songbird
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That is to say that the bacterial community grows, but when the carbon food source is gone, they die, and release their amino acids (N) back into the soil.

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<sigh of relief> Now I can sleep o'nights. Tx, 'bird!
HB
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Higgs Boson wrote: ...

yw. :)
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>

TIA, that's exactly why a "bomb" exploded in other forum (Spanish one) about gardening. Innocent of me I suggest that pine bark can be used as any other organic remain to improve the soil. Now, thanks to the kind explanations from all of you I know thats not that simple. Everybody here is so gentile, thank you all!
Anyway, an awfull and very controversial discussion starts in that forum from this single topic in the "Vegetables in potts" that in castillian we call "Macetohuerto". Yes, experience and the knowledgement of people its the most important source of garden tips, but in that case the "gurs" wanted to put me against a wall and shoot at me just because I ask the same as you: "Where's the cientific basis for all this chemical dispute?"
I would liked to keep you informed aboud the discussion progress, but the censorship close the discussion and erased multiple angry posts abuot it. Now its a taboo topic in there.
See u guys!
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On Saturday, April 7, 2012 9:30:00 AM UTC-7, SurfGirl wrote:

Pine bark has very little nutrient value, but it is a good amendment for certain soil profiles and very good as a top mulch for most plants. I use bark quite often here in the PNW without problems.
I do have to ask how long have you used bark in your vegetable soils and if the bark presented any problems to date? I think some here are confusing wood chips with pine bark. We now know there is difference in composition and decomposition activities than previously believed.
Dr. Chalker-Scott of WSU has some good articles on mulches and chips, some very different than the oft overgeneralized expert advice given here. I encourage you to read through several of them to get a good handle on her philosophy, she is a myth buster. http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/index.html
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