Soils rights and wrongs?

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Rubarb on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:25 am

Being new to bonsai, I have to ask the question about soil or growing media?

I's it honestly worth going for what looks like zero water retaining compounds (that all cost the earth) or is a decent peat based mixed with a bit of grit for drainage just as good?

or is it just a vanity thing? nutrient wise i see no advantage over a decent peat based compost (the blacker the better as it will contain more silt and nitrogen) over these over priced bonsai specific soils.

I could be wrong but bonsai is going to take up a lot of time and a soil that feeds and holds moisure would be high up my list

Rubarb
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  stagz on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:41 am

the key is getting air to the roots and not holding alot of water to damage the roots. u can make your own bonsai mix veryyyy inexpensively. and if you only have a few trees then your not looking at much of a expense at all. and it will be well worth it in the long run of the survival of your trees. im sure u can talk to someone in your area and they'd be more than willing to give you some bonsai mix for pretty much nothing at all if you only have a couple of trees. at least, if u lived near me and asked me id just give it to you.

stagz
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  stagz on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:44 am

for example i just picked up a 50 pound bag of turface for $12. thats not gonna break the bank and itll give u more than enough soil for a good amount of trees

stagz
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:24 am

Rubarb,

the soil should be freely draining and should stay so until you need to repot your tree.

If you have a club near you, just ask what they use.

Anyhow you look at it, you would still have to experiment to get what works for you.
This should not be an expensive situation by the way.
Later.
Khaimraj

Khaimraj Seepersad
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Patrick_G on Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:43 am

This link will help if you need to find turface, I love that stuff. I like to mix in chicken grit too, you can find that at most farm supply shops.

http://www.turface.com/distributors/state


Last edited by P_Gravel on Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:09 am; edited 1 time in total

Patrick_G
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  coh on Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:03 am

Original poster is in the U.K., I don't think they have access to turface but there are any number of similar materials available over there. Best advice is to find some local growers and talk to them. Next would be to spend some time searching this forum for past discussions on soil and soil components, if you haven't already done so.

For what it's worth, turface (and similar products) actually retain a fair amount of water, but at the same time they maintain enough space for good air penetration. There's a good reason why most bonsai growers use these types of materials and not peat-based soils!

coh
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  CSBudzi on Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:24 am

I am only 2-3 months into this and had the same concerns regarding expensive soils. I spent A LOT of time researching good soils and everything else bonsai. And because I am that new I don't have any real experience to give so I will give you this link filled with others experiences and expertise.

http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Soils.html

It is the most thorough and yet concise advice I could find so far.
Also the site suggests using cheap cat littler or "kittydama" as its nicknamed if you want to save money. Here is their link regarding kitty litter as soil.

http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm

Make sure you read the warnings about getting the right kind of litter, some have fragrances and coagulators etc that would be awful for the tree.
At the very bottom it talks about regional sources for correct cat litter and alternatives to kitty litter. I'm in the USA so I went down to my local NAPA auto parts store as the site suggested and tried their 100% diatomaceous earth (cat litter alternative) thats used to clean automotive fluid spills. I have a Japanese maple that has been flourishing for a couple weeks in a huge training box of the stuff right now mixed with a little bark compost and fertilizer.
I'm sure expensive bonsai soils are expensive for a reason. You kinda get what you pay for up to a certain point.
I hope some more experienced members will have more on this subject. Especially on kitty litter mixed with bark compost as soil.
C. S. Budzi

CSBudzi
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Poink88 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:09 pm

Budzi,

Like you, I started from the Bonsai4me recommendations and used Oil-Dri. Let me tell you that it is not the same as Turface. I will still use it in a pinch but would rather pay the little extra bucks to get Turface if possible.

Poink88
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  CSBudzi on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:14 pm

Budzi,

Like you, I started from the Bonsai4me recommendations and used Oil-Dri. Let me tell you that it is not the same as Turface. I will still use it in a pinch but would rather pay the little extra bucks to get Turface if possible.

Where do you find your turface at? do you know any specific places that are cheaper then others and reliable?

CSBudzi
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Poink88 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:26 pm

Go to Turface website and use this distributor locator...
http://www.turface.com/distributors/state/

I get mine from Ewing landscape and I pay around $14 per 50lb bag of Turface MVP. I've seen others post they buy at a lot less in their area so price varies.

Poink88
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Tom on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:34 pm

Rubarb wrote:Being new to bonsai, I have to ask the question about soil or growing media?

I's it honestly worth going for what looks like zero water retaining compounds (that all cost the earth) or is a decent peat based mixed with a bit of grit for drainage just as good?

or is it just a vanity thing? nutrient wise i see no advantage over a decent peat based compost (the blacker the better as it will contain more silt and nitrogen) over these over priced bonsai specific soils.

I could be wrong but bonsai is going to take up a lot of time and a soil that feeds and holds moisure would be high up my list

Hi Rubarb.

Yes, it honestly is worth it and IMHO a peat based mix is a bad idea.
If you've not already done so, have a read of this: http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t3328-walter-pall-blog-post
There are a range of 'modern substrates' available here in the UK. A good list of some of the options can be found at http://www.kaizenbonsai.com/shop/index.php?cPath=84_87 [commercial site, posting the link for information not endorsing them].


Tom
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  adam1234 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:53 pm

Hello,

I found that the experience of going to an inorganic substrate from organic beginings quite difficult at first. I wish I had someone earlier in the hobby to direct me, nevertheless, I managed successfully. I think, for me it was an emotional issue of not wanting to change just in case my first tree which was a gift died. Experimenting with weeds to make sure that the advice was sound gave me surety of the method. I come from a technical and scientific education and it was habit to have questioned the advice. The advice on the bonsai4me website on tesco's cat litter works for me and is ideal for my few trees here in Ireland. In my own experiments, I found that the hazel tree (Coryllus avellana) does not work well with the tesco's catlitter and requires a different substrate. So, not only might you require to alter the ratios but also know of the tree's habit. Climate also plays a major role and as advised by the earlier post I would seek those around you who have trees and ask.

Good luck,
Adam

adam1234
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:58 pm

In the USA John Deere Landscape Supply has dealers in many parts of the USA, they sell to golf courses, athletic programs, parks departments, etc. They have a national web site with a locations tab. Their prices are not the best but unless you have a lot of trees or buy a number of bags, running around to save a few dollars isn't worth it. I can buy Turface from BWI, a nursery suppy house cheaper but if it isn't close, hauling quickly burns up the savings.

Billy M. Rhodes
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Poink88 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:04 pm

Rubarb,

While your reasoning is sound and it may work in some locale, it can be detrimental to some (or most) trees. If you want to experiment, note that different trees have different tolerances. The problem is as noted earlier...too much moisture and lack of aeration which can result to root rot and the tree's demise. Fertilizer can always be added in different ways (another major topic).

Like you, I question a lot of the common practices also and trying to re-invent the wheel only to end to the same conclusion and practice. If you want to save some time and lots of money...go the tried and tested route. Start your experiment there and make your adjustments to find your perfect mix. Good luck!

Poink88
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  cbobgo on Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:55 pm

Another good article to read on why bonsai soil is different from regular soil:

http://evergreengardenworks.com/earthpot.htm

- bob

cbobgo
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Rubarb on Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:54 pm

cbobgo wrote:Another good article to read on why bonsai soil is different from regular soil:

http://evergreengardenworks.com/earthpot.htm

- bob

Thank you very much
Had a great read of that page and many others and yes it did make perfect sense (even to a numpty like myself Very Happy )

The reason I asked about soils is probally diverting away from bonsai a bit but I know atm theres a huge push for all gardeners to move away from peat based composts ect,
working at B&Q I'm told to advise customers to go with a peat free option.... yet I rarely do because peat free is so poor.

Found another intresting page at Here
This option seems right up my street as it's very cheap and also can be mixed with other ingredients.
Has anyone here tried the kitty litter option?

Rubarb
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Poink88 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:58 pm

Rubarb wrote:Has anyone here tried the kitty litter option?
I have, I used similar kitty product here and also Oil-Dri (supposed to be similar too). Both worked but disintegrates faster than Turface. I will use it if need be but Turface is much better. Not sure if you can get similar product there.

Poink88
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  drgonzo on Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:09 pm

Peat (as in decomposed sphagnum peat) soils are undesirable for a few reasons. Peat once dry is very difficult to re-hydrate, peat particles can also remain saturated far longer then surrounding inorganic particles this can lead to difficulty in watering/fertilizing correctly.

You mention that the addition of peat to soil adds nutrition. Actually its quite the opposite. Peat robs Nitrogen, in the form of nitrates, from the soil as it decomposes (peat is termed 'nitrogen starved') thus it's decomposition takes nutrients out of the soil, it doesn't add them to it as normal decaying humus would. Sphagnum peat takes so long to decompose that the soil has a net loss of nitrogen vs what the decomposing peat itself would add.

do a google search on "nitrogen starved peat" and you'll learn more about that. Plants that have evolved to live in peat bogs employ Mycorrhizal fungus to get around this difficulty.
-Jay

drgonzo
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:01 pm

IF you use the right sort of cat litter, it is an excellent/unbeatable component in your bonsai mix. It must be of the high fired calcined montmorillonite type, such as the Tesco or Sophisticat Pink. I've used both, but the latter more, for ten years+ and am completely happy with its performance. Other components I use in the UK are Alpine Grit (graded bagged granite chips), Pine Bark chunks and Peat Free compost.

_________________
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin.

Kev Bailey
Admin


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:31 am

General-

So do I understand that slowly you are all turning Bonsai into Hydroponics, and has anyone done any research on the long term effects of such a practice on trees?
I am curious.
Khaimraj

Khaimraj Seepersad
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  drgonzo on Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:54 am

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:General-

So do I understand that slowly you are all turning Bonsai into Hydroponics, and has anyone done any research on the long term effects of such a practice on trees?

True Hydroponics would mean growing trees in a circulating nutrient solution, which I'm sure can be done. What we are describing with regards to growing in loose, air filled, inorganic substrate would be more properly termed "drip" or perhaps "loose substrate" aeroponics (which itself is a form of hydroponics).

This growing method and derivations of it, is used extensively all around the world and has been used both in agricultural practice and research since the early 1940's. W. Carter and L.J. Klotz were early pioneers, later in the 50's work was done growing apples and tomatoes in pure aeroponic (soilless) fashion. So its been around quite some time.

Many of the horticultural practices and innovations (including quality fertilizers and high air-porosity growing media) used in these growing methods have equally excellent results when applied to bonsai culture, though I dont believe anyone has studied Bonsai hydroponics scientifically. As such, most of the benefits we hear about would be anecdotal at best.

-Jay

drgonzo
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:40 am

Unfortunately, it is the results down here with the tomatoes that would collapse on theirselves,when grown hydroponically and tasted extremely watery, which led to my questions.

Just wondered what one was doing to a tree, grown as you folks do.
Softer wood, weaker leaves, insect feast, earlier death and so on??????

I pride myself on growing trees that have few if no insect problems, are dense of branchlet/leaf and green, even in full sun. I am even testing sagreetia in full sun, and low humidity [ for us 45 %].
Later.
Khaimraj

Khaimraj Seepersad
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  rockm on Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:26 pm

"Just wondered what one was doing to a tree, grown as you folks do.
Softer wood, weaker leaves, insect feast, earlier death and so on??????"

I guess you could look to the conifers that grow in such stuff naturally. Bristlecone pines live in dolomitic gravelish soil and produce one of the most dense woods on the planet. They can also live for 1,000 years. Ponderosa pines, pitch pines and other higher elevation conifers also grow in extremely well drained soils. They can also reach tremendous age.



rockm
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Tom on Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:31 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:General-

So do I understand that slowly you are all turning Bonsai into Hydroponics, and has anyone done any research on the long term effects of such a practice on trees?
I am curious.
Khaimraj

Remember that a lot of these substrates are effectively mimicking the desirable properties of Akadama, hopefully without its associated cost or the risk of breaking down over the winter. There's a long history of bonsai being grown in Akadama...

Tom
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:23 am

Yes,Tom,

but don't the Japanese also feed organic meal into akadama, and as far as I know it akadama is still soil and converts to a clay type. Clays are supposed to be very nutritious, but without lime will sheet and clog/compact.

As to the bristlecone pines, anyone have a soil breakdown with micro nutrients and organisms living in the soil, plus root lengths [ e.g carrots are supposed to really travel in soil, root lengths equaling miles]
On our side pines grow in mostly sand, but there is interaction with weeds,birds, insects, worms and so on. It's not quite the same as hydroponics or sterile inorganic mixes.

Just very curious.
Khaimraj

Khaimraj Seepersad
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: Soils rights and wrongs?

Post  Sponsored content Today at 8:39 am


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum