Composting Pine Bark

Do any of you have a process or information on composting your own pine bark?

I have heard that composted pine bark is better than fresher bark for soil mixes, but I only have the fresh bark available to me.

I like to add another organic component to most of my soils because of the warm dry weather (Central Texas) and because most of my trees are in development.

What else do you use for a pine bark / water retentive component?

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I imagine it is a lot like regular composting. Put it all in a big pile in direct sunlight, get it wet and let it do it’s thing. Keep it wet (but not sopping) and turn the pile every few weeks.

Pine bark holds a lot of nitrogen while it is decomposing, which is why fresh bark is not recommended in the container. It’ll steal all your nitrogen while it is breaking down. Eventually, it’ll give it back but that could be a few years later.

You probably would want to add some sort of high nitrogen supplement to the compost pile.

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You could also add microorganism to the pile. There should be outlets like the ones selling activated biochar that have an offering in this. Would speed up the process (or you add some compost if you have). I do not subscribe to the direct sunlight though. There are „speed composers“ which work by supporting higher temps in the pile while not having us entering.

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I guess you could use the bark as the carbon component, you will probably have to add some food scraps or green material to achieve a nice balance and get the microbes to do their thing in the pile. Turn turn turn, don’t let it become anaerobic, it probably will take a while also for it to decompose nicely. I usually start the compost pile with some nicely colonized soil at the bottom and then do the lasagna of N and C components, water, let it do its thing, you probably want to have a nice shaded place though, the compost will heat itself quite considerably and the direct sunlight might add too much heat and kill the micros, I’ve seen compost piles inside greenhouses that hit 60 degrees Celsius easily, I have a friend that has been trying to do black garlic inside his compost for example lol

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Thank you for the ideas so far. I guess my remaining question is: If it is just going to be composted as per usual compost why not just use regular compost?

I’d imagined some process which would absorb the nitrogen and begin breaking down the bark without changing the structure much. If I compost bark in the same way as normal compost and add greens, won’t it break down nearly completely into a rich fine organic mix?

Composted bark that’s sold in stores isn’t a fine mix. It still has enough structure to it. I don’t know how to test when the bark has switched from nitrogen stealing to nitrogen giving, but it must happen before it turns to a fine mix.

Good question I guess it would be interesting to try with two piles? One where as the “brown” component you only use bark and for “green” you use just trimmings etc as opposed to another one more rich in nitrogen components like food scraps.

See that makes sense, but I’m not sure how to get there. I think I’ll have to do some testing unless anyone who’s tried it already chimes in here.

I think thats a good idea. I’m going to do those two, but also a third pile with no greens and just see how it does on its own. I might add a bit of compost starter and will keep it wet, but I kind of think to maintain the structure it will be best with little to no other green material added.