Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

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Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  jhrost on Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:51 pm

I hope this isn't a dumb question. Like many others, I make up my own soil mix from organic and inorganic components. For the organic part, I usually use pine bark. I derive particles of the latter in the 1/16 to 2/16 inch range by sifting out a bag of "pine bark mulch" purchased at a local nursery. This of course is somewhat of a tedious and time-consuming process, and the result is not entirely satisfactory, as it is generally adulterated with a lot of tiny wood chips as well, which don't look as good and, in large amounts so I've heard, can deplete nitrogen from the soil.

Anyway, while eating breakfast this morning, I happened to notice that my Grape Nuts cereal comes "pre-sifted" in particle sizes almost precisely the same as my soil mix (some of it falls through the bottom of a 1/16 inch screen). It is organic as well, the label listing the ingredients as:

Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Salt, Dried Yeast, Soy Lecithin


In addition it contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, like zinc & "reduced" iron (the importance of which to plant growth are not entirely clear to me).


I have two concerns: the particles might break down too quickly in contact with ongoing watering and become mushy; secondly, I don't know if the salt content of the cereal would be problematic - the package says 290 mg per serving, which doesn't seem like a great deal, but I'm not sure what if any salt content my current soil has, so I wonder if this would be a problem?

If anyone has ever tried using Grape Nuts cereal in this fashion, I would be interested in learning from their insights. If it wouldn't be good as a soil component, what about adding as an occasional fertilizer?

Thanks for your replies. Smile

Regards,

John

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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Tue Oct 06, 2009 4:16 pm

When using Grake Nuts, one must always water with milk Laughing

I would think they would turn to mush withi minutes and plug the mix preventing drainage. I would also expect it to draw insects.

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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  Jim Doiron on Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:47 pm

I would think it would be eaten before it could do any benefit for the tree but agree with Jay that it would be mush in short order by itself. Granola, on the other hand, is usually hard enough that even squirrels might break their teeth on it. Laughing

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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  JimLewis on Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:13 pm

I have two concerns: the particles might break down too quickly in contact with ongoing watering and become mushy;

I'm still not sure if this question was asked seriously or not, but just leave your leftovers from breakfast sitting on the table until evening and you can answer your own question. At that point no need to worry about salt content.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  jhrost on Wed Oct 07, 2009 2:26 am

JimLewis wrote:
I'm still not sure if this question was asked seriously or not, but just leave your leftovers from breakfast sitting on the table until evening and you can answer your own question. At that point no need to worry about salt content.

Actually it was a serious question, though I'm sure it probably sounds kind of silly. My Eureka moment came with the realization that the particle size of this relatively cheap, pre-packaged organic material was just about the same size as the pine bark particles that take me so long to sift out of the bark mulch that I buy at Home Depot. I probably should have tested this theory out by myself on the qt first though, before raising it here on this forum, but I wanted to see whether anyone had ever investigated this material.

I did do some experimentation after posting, which I'll describe, though I may be the only one who finds the results interesting, LOL. These are only very short term results though, and may not be indicative of long term performance.

I mixed grape nuts about 50:50 with some turface and put it into a small terra cotta pot (I would probably use only 25% or less of grape nuts if I were going to actually use it with a plant however). I then poured water through it, several times. The water flow through the drainage hole in the bottom didn't seem to appreciably slow over the course of these pours. The grape nuts did break down, but not exactly into a mush. It was more like a paste which imparted an interesting adhesive or "sticky" quality to the soil.

I overturned the pot and dumped this "soil" mix into my hand. Normally, a turface/pine bark mixture dumped out of a pot would not be cohesive, but rather simply fall apart. The turface/grape nuts mix however was able to be shaped into a cohesive ball that retained its shape - but which was still easily crumble-able (I'm thinking that some component of the wheat has adhesive qualities when wetted). Generally, good garden soil will have this same quality - able to be shaped into a ball in the hand, but still able to be easily crumbled. I'm not sure whether this would be appropriate for containerized plants though.

I'd probably not want to make this the sole organic component of a bonsai soil mixture, but this brief experiment (admittedly this would have to be tested much more extensively over the long run) leaves me wondering whether adding a bit of grape nuts to a soil mix, or occasionally as a kind of soil conditioner/fertilizer might add an adhesive or sticky effect to the mix particles that could improve soil structure while simultaneously not compromising water drainage (I'm envisioning the grape nuts themselves as kind of being "washed out" with repeated watering, but leaving a mildly sticky organic film on some of the inorganic particles, and so providing an ongoing source of nutrient material to the roots)?

The possible attractiveness of the grape nuts to insects or squirrels is something that would have to be considered and tested for I guess. The resulting mix also had kind of a breakfasty aroma that some might not care for. Maybe next spring I'll try potting up one of my more expendable plants with a bit of grape nuts mixed in, and see what happens in the way of ongoing plant health, crown growth, and root development.

jhrost
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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  waway on Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:44 am

jhrost,

Using food stuff in your bonsai soil would give you more problems than going all the hassle of sifting pine bark. But for convenience I think there are already bonsai soil mixes sold with turface and pine bark on it (that's what its written on the details) Wink

Warren

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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  Will Heath on Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:39 am

jhrost wrote:Normally, a turface/pine bark mixture dumped out of a pot would not be cohesive, but rather simply fall apart.
Which would be a quality of a good bonsai soil....



Will

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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

Post  gordonb on Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:54 am

Sounds like you might want to try planting in porridge next ;-)

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Re: Grape Nut Flakes as Bonsai Soil Organic Component? or Fertilizer?

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