Soils - interesting reading

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Soils - interesting reading

Post  JimLewis on Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:40 pm

http://www.colinlewisbonsai.com/Reading/soils1.html

and

http://www.colinlewisbonsai.com/Reading/soils2.html

There is other material there, but these are most useful. Avoid the fertilizer article -- er, commercial.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  Levi on Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:05 pm

Thanks. Great read. Look forward to part 3.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  Jkd2572 on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:40 am

I use haydite and pine bark fines for my mix works great. He seemed to think both we're useless. Whatever.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  JudyB on Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:21 am

How old is this article? I've read it before , but don't remember if it was recently.

He thinks peat moss is good...... yikes! I also use a mix with haydite, and add some sifted turface for trees that want more water retention...

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  Levi on Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:05 am

Yeah, I also use a lot of haydite in my mix and think its works well for my purposes, but I'm still relatively new and haven't experimented with many different things. I was also a little thrown by the moss and a few other things, but I thought it was informative on the ones I haven't tried or used. Sounded like his opinions came from experience though. Still think it was a great read over all.


Last edited by Levi on Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:05 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:55 am

General response.

I spoke to a friend on the American side about bark, and he more or less said that the fertilizer would have to feed the bark to allow it to decay [ nitrogen ] and that after several months the bark just composted in the pot.

I think what you are supposed to really take notes on, is when your tree reaches 10 to 20 years or so of age in the pot, and or shows signs that core needs to be re-newed.
Either the tree will have attempted to regrow a taproot or roots have become too thick and are starting to function as support and not feeding or the tree shows signs of the core either repelling water, or holding it and making the tree sick.
The time of the pie cuts, to restart the core.

The exterior part of the soil is cut away yearly, or as the tree ages, when it needs to be re-done.

Plus, the other aspect is how you water and the conditions in your backyard, where you have to work by observation.
Experience will allow you to adjust your soil to suit.

This is provided that you are growing Bonsai and actually care about your trees, as you would care about your family or yourself.
Nothing living can thrive on neglect.

Hence the working multitude of soil mixes.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  JimLewis on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:40 pm

He thinks peat moss is good...... yikes!

Yes, but what he calls peat moss and what we can usually find here in the states are different things, I think. I grow my azaleas in a mix with 10-15% peat moss.

I'm not touting these articles as gospel (Colin's horticulture is a bit odd at times), but they make you think -- and these days that is a rare commodity.

As for how old they are, I imagine they've been around for a while; they're on his website. The one on orgnics is newer, I think.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  coh on Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:06 pm

According to his website, Colin has resided in the U.S. (Maine) since 2008. These seem like recent articles but there are no dates listed. Regarding peat - Walter Pall often refers to a "rough peat" that sounds quite different from what we have available in the U.S. Here, we have the bags of compressed peat that are mostly fines. I do know that Julian Adams uses a small amount of this stuff (maybe 10%) in his bonsai mix (which is mostly turface, plus some granite grit). He takes bags of the compressed peat and sifts out the very small amount of coarser material that can be found. I've tried this and you can get a low yield of peat "chunks" but they are quite fragile, and I don't know how well they hold up in the pot. However, Julian has been growing award-winning trees for decades this way...I just started experimenting with this for a few of my trees this season.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  drgonzo on Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:24 pm

coh wrote: He takes bags of the compressed peat and sifts out the very small amount of coarser material that can be found.

I used to do this a few years back when I was first experimenting with soil. It made such a mess for so little reward that just I gave up. Most of the 'chunks' seemed to want to float up to the surface of the soil and was away at the first watering anyway.

-Jay

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  coh on Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:53 pm

I didn't notice that as being a significant problem. Whether it is worth the hassle is another question...

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  rps on Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:34 pm

if i learned nothing else from these articles, i learned how easy it is for one [well, me] to settle into habit & assume the reactionary mantle.
at first, i bristled in annoyance at the comments about [fir] bark --- but a few minutes later was forced to ask myself, when have you really tried anything else --- at least, as semi-controlled comparison?

anyway, in the aftermath of the quick peek at my own foible, i'm enjoying the subsequent thoughtful discussion jim's post was intended to prompt.

i've been using the linked product as mulch in the garden and for potted herbs and think, now, i'll sift some out for bonsai use the next time i repot.
http://www.seasoil.com/about.html
in part as response to mr. lewis' [colin, not jim] claim that bark is stingy with its nitrogen. on the other hand, we methodically apply fertiliser/s to our charges, because we're aware of the comparative sterility of the substrats employed.





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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  MikeG on Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:21 pm

That Sea Soil looks interesting and is readily available here. How is the particle size? Would there be a lot of waste after sifting?

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:43 pm

Not meaning to be rude, are you guys practicing Bonsai under 5 years or so ?

Have you tried just looking at your soil when you repot, to see if the tree / shrub had the ability to root bind in the pot [ I going on the idea that you have trees in bonsai pots ] and when you cut off the soil [ and it was just moist ] how did it fall apart ?

Did you actually find, all of the organic fines at the bottom of the pot blocking the drainage holes ?

Did you repot after a year or two or three ?

Anyone create a soil mix that actually retarded water from penetrating or remaining soggy for over a day ?

Does anyone keep written records on the response of your trees to being pruned, resprouting and quality of the regrowth?
There is as far as I know, no perfect soil, just what works for you.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  rps on Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:18 pm

khaimraj, it is not a rude question and certainly not taken as such. those details give context to comments, questions and discussion.
in my case around 5 years, which in bonsai years makes me a baby. at the same time, it is certainly long enough to have made some howling errors and, i suppose, long enough to [at least] recognize them as such.

i'm juggling temperates [mostly local species] and a few classic tropicals [ficus, bougainvillia, serrisa], some more advanced than others --- so there isn't a fixed timeline for repotting. speaking to the trees in bonsai pots & substrat, i make every effort to balance allowing the tree to become pot bound before a repot with not letting it become overly so. however, finding that sweet spot has been a challenge, especially with the temperates with season specific repot preference.

my experience repotting properly rootbound specimens has been that the organics have broken down --- there are fines, but not to the point where they entirely inhibit the drainage area. i'm guessing [guessing, mind you] that if i was to resift the organics at that time, about half of them would discard as fines too small for use in the substrate while the other half would still be of a suitable size to be part of a free draining soil composition.
are you suggesting that this is a gauge for suitability? ie: that the organics should reduce to fines about the same time a repot is in order [rootbound]? --- meaning, they are breaking down & thus providing to the trees needs?

my attempts at keeping a journal have been, to date, woeful --- but your comments remind me how important it is to observe the many little details, register them and learn from them. it's a sure bet my memory alone won't cover that.

mgallex. i haven't actually sifted any sea soil yet. i happened upon a complimentary promotional 32 litre bag and used it as noted last summer. i think it has promise, but doubt sifting would yield more than 30% to 40% bonsai 'grade' particles. since i have the product and the price was right, i plan to sift some this winter for use in spring --- the rest will go into the garden bed. i'll let you know about yield once i actually get out the riddles and do some shaking.


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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:31 pm

RPS,

It helps to keep notes.

I sift over my old soil, discarding the fines, and adjusting the mix with what is needed, fresh sifted compost, sifted crushed red earthenware brick, and sifted builders silica sand. I may add some cocopeat for extra moisture, some trees can really drink, but I am in the Tropics, humidty can drop to 45 % and placement is full sun.

My observations have been, that the trees dissolve the organic matter, and then lift, by root buildup,the tree out of the pot. I have never seen this clogging, save through root mass, of the drainage holes, but by that time, one repots.
I have timed as yearly for small pots and every 3 to 5 years for larger trees.

Since using home-made compost, all I seem to need is a good fertilizer, and I use that at 1/3 strength, into moist soils.
Later.
Khaimraj

* I suspect the tree fine hair roots on the support roots, the feeders [ cilia ?] can also use brick and silica through water [ universal solvent ]

You may wish to pot a Chinese serissa into a small pot and just let it rootbind, and then observe.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  cbobgo on Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:55 pm

the peat he is talking about is actually live moss, not the dried stuff you get in stores. He is actually harvesting it from his property and selling it. Which may make his assessment of it's qualities a little biased.

- bob

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  coh on Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:04 pm

Bob,

He actually talks about both. If you go back to his part 1, right after the "BARK" section he talks about peat, i.e. the standard bagged peat moss that we all know about (and the same stuff I referred to that Julian Adams uses). Later he talks about the chopped live sphagnum that he sells. I'm not sure how biased he is but I've read other places that the live sphagnum is supposed to be very good for root growth.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  JimLewis on Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:05 pm

I had a small sphagnum bog on my farm in Tallahassee Florida. I used to go out every early winter and collect a few buckets full to use in my soil and in air layers back when I was busily propagating. I do miss it. You just can't find fresh sphagnum everywhere.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:07 pm

Jim,

on our side the moss comes from the cocoa estates, and grows on the trees. It is used for airlayers, and as I illustrated about 2 years ago, it could be used as the only soil component for growing a serissa.
Perhaps I should test it for use as the organic in my mix ?
Later.
Khaimraj

* It didn't decay in it's use as a soil ----- funny huh scratch

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  JimLewis on Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:56 pm

If it is growing on trees, it isn't sphagnum. Sphagnum grows in -- usually under -- acid swampy water.

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Re: Soils - interesting reading

Post  -keith- on Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:54 pm

i use dried sphagum moss ( from a craft store)that i coursely grind in my ficus soil, since i have done this root and leaf production has doubled.i used it on cuttings to retain moisture and found them to root and grow much better than the cuttings done without ( the year before) some of the new ones have better root systems than my 2 year olds. have yet to try this on my conifers/deciduous tho

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