Define Your Perfect Soil!

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Sun Nov 08, 2009 5:56 pm

There is a better word, trapped water or perched water. Perched water is water that occurs above an impermeable surface. The impermeable surface could be hard rock, concrete or fired clay as in a bonsai pot that has poorly designed drainage hole locations. This situation can allow water to puddle or perch with no exit on the bottom of the pot.

Ciao.......Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  bonsaisr on Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:10 am

leonardo wrote:There is a better word, trapped water or perched water. Perched water is water that occurs above an impermeable surface. The impermeable surface could be hard rock, concrete or fired clay as in a bonsai pot that has poorly designed drainage hole locations. This situation can allow water to puddle or perch with no exit on the bottom of the pot.
Ciao.......Leonardo
That is not really what is meant by a perched water table. A perched water table occurs when you have a layer of very fine soil (probably with a lot of organic matter) "perched" over a drainage layer of very coarse particles. When you water, the fine layer becomes sodden and remains that way. Due simply to the surface tension and capillary action, the fine layer stays wet and the excess water doesn't drain into the drainage layer.
This problem does not occur with most bonsai soils, as they have coarse particles and little organic matter. The way we poke the potting mix with a chopstick tends to avoid discrete layers of soil anyway. Some of us do find that a coarser layer on the bottom is helpful, and if you are using a good potting mix, you will never have a perched water table.
Iris

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Will Heath on Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:47 am

Well put Iris.

leonardo,

Before you blatantly dismiss people as being "wrong" or "wrong again" it may serve the discussion better if you did a little research on the subject at hand.

Let's start with the fact that the perched water table is, as stated, called a perched water table when we are dealing with containers.

See:

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/feature_articles/physical_properties/physical_properties.html

http://auf.isa-arbor.com/request.asp?JournalID=1&ArticleID=1526&Type=2

http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/ornamentals/floriculture/aeration.pdf

http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/wo_AgricHandbook730/wo_AgricHandbook727_077_093.pdf

and so on....


On the drainage layer, this myth was busted almost a hundred years ago, when it was shown that water just does not move easily from layers of finer soil to layers of courser soil, this has been proved in many studies since then as well.

May I recommend:

http://www.sustainable-gardening.com/tips/containerdrain.html

http://auf.isa-arbor.com/request.asp?JournalID=1&ArticleID=2134&Type=2

http://www.scribd.com/doc/3482231/PN20619

http://www.scribd.com/doc/1684781/USDA-primerfor-printing


Lastly, may I suggest Brent Walston's articles, as he is not only a experienced nurseryman, he grows quite a bit of bonsai material, in fact, he could be called "the source." See: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm




Will

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:28 pm

It is a common fact that words and inaccurate statements can be repeatedly misused until they actually become the popular beliefs and terminolgy. This I see often on Google and other infromation highways and it can be very frustrating to teach someone to think through problems themselves rather than the easy way out.
Let us see if we can take one term and see how it works using our own common sense. Perched....what does it mean, where was it derived from and how does it apply.
Perch can be an elevated place for resting or sitting. So how does this word apply to soil Hydrology? In the ground there can be a water table. Now if there is a secondary water table above the primary water table isolated and trapped by impermeable rock on the bottom it is called a perched table which makes sense and is the source of the term.
Now by established mis-usage, perched has been used to explain the zone of saturated soil in the bottom of a containers and nursery pots which is not acurate and can be very confusing to one trying to learn. This zone should be termed the capillary fringe not perched water.
Parroting inaccurate terminolgy has gotten to be a real problem.

Ciao.......Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Will Heath on Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:38 pm

leonardo,

Well this is fine and dandy, in order to intelligently discuss a subject, we must use the name given and commonly used for a phenomenon to avoid misunderstandings. You may not agree with the term "perched water table" but that is of little importance to the discussion. The fact is this phenomenon is commonly called and referred to as a perched water table, so to avoid unnecessary confusion, let's discuss it by that name.

Consider the names Sour Gum, Black Gum, Black Tupelo, Pepperidge, which are all common names for the species Nyssa sylvatica, as you can see, using any other name would be counter productive to a discussion.

So, let's move on, I am curious to why you claimed my statement "The truth is that bonsai can be grown in practically anything that is not toxic. See "The Secret to Soil Revealed" at http://knowledgeofbonsai.org/articles/care/soil-potting-media/the-secret-to-soil-revealed/ " was wrong.

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Define Your Perfect Soil

Post  bonsaisr on Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:53 pm

It is interesting to read what other people are using.
Somebody, I think Bobby Little from the Midlands wrote: Two parts peat, two parts grit, one part John Innes Number 2 (an organic loam-based mix, I believe).
My hair stood on end. If I potted a bonsai in that, it would be dead of root-rot by nightfall. And you have more rain than I do. How long have you been using this mix? Is that what other bonsai growers in England use?
As far as the drainage layer is concerned, it could very well be a myth. However, there doesn't seem to be any harm in using it, & I find it helpful for some trees. Bill Valavanis & others have pointed out that these experiments with containerized trees have never included bonsai. Bonsai growing is a separate branch of horticulture & sometimes different rules apply. On another tack, in my experience I have found that the rules for growing other plants under fluorescent lights sometimes apply to bonsai more than the rules for growing bonsai outdoors.
Iris

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  JimLewis on Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:26 pm

Leonardo . . . Please present us with some science behind your statements. Are you a soil scientist, or have a college degree in horticulture or some other agricultural field? As a once-upon-a-time geologist I have enough of a soil science background to suspect that you are wrong, but if you can back up your statements with a few honest-to-goodness citations, I'll be happy to concede.

Will presented several from respected agricultural sources; let's see yours.

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:40 pm

Be happy to Jim. What part or statement would you like to discuss. By the way, there is no prize or reward to won here. I am only trying to bring to light some interesting information that might help one understand soil Hydrology a little better.

Ciao.......Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:32 pm

Will Heath wrote:leonardo,




So, let's move on, I am curious to why you claimed my statement "The truth is that bonsai can be grown in practically anything that is not toxic. See "The Secret to Soil Revealed" at http://knowledgeofbonsai.org/articles/care/soil-potting-media/the-secret-to-soil-revealed/ " was wrong.

Sorry Will, I missed this. First are you suggesting a plant soil composed of a mix of marbles, tire chips and glass shards would be a soilless mix to grow plants in? This sounds like hydroponics to me eliminating the use of any organic matter.

Ciao......Leonardo


Last edited by leonardo on Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:22 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  zeeshan hameed on Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:46 pm

ok for bonsai plant soil is very important ingrediant.first of all we know the importance of soil in bonsai plant.we have to use the soil which can not hold the water because if water stand in pot it damaged the roots of plant.we have watering the bonsai plant with free hands in this way lots of water fall in pot so we use the soil which san easily drains all water so we use the crushed stones which are wery littel in size we mixed it in soil large amount of crushed stones and small amount of soil and also we mix the plants feed which is made by waistes of plants leaves this soil is very comfortable for your plant it has three good point 1 it drains water very easily 2 the roots of plant easily grown

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Define Your Perfect Soil

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:33 pm

Let's proceed from semantics to specifics. I am experimenting with growing a few Ficus species under lights. Earlier this year we had a big controversy in the thread on nebari over what constitutes an appropriate medium for growing Ficus in the North. Lately I have been using more of my coarse mix & more aquarium gravel, but I would not go to all gravel. I would like to know what other people are using. Jay in Michigan uses a mix similar to mine in general. Do you modify it for Ficus?
Iris

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:38 pm

I just gave my lecture on soil hydrology to a group of people and they all walked away more confused than before except one gentleman. He followed the scoop right along with no hesitation or questions. As it turns out he was the co-inventor of the heart pacemaker and did research on developing a kidney dialysis machine. A few scrunched eyebrows when I slipped a little but mostly smooth sailing.

Ciao.....Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Norma on Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:15 pm

Hey Iris....

I'm experimenting with two of my willow leaf ficus ,they are both under sodium HID and double fluorescent shop lights this winter. The one is potted in regular soil 1 part haydite , 1 part pumice and 1 part sifted orchid mix; the other I planted in just lava rock! The control ficus is doing fine but I was a bit worried about the one in lava. I did do more root work on the test ficus to split thick roots and eliminate "claws". However after losing most of its' leaves it is coming back with new growth. Next summer I'll repot each and look at the roots.

Should be interesting to see the results!

Norma

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Will Heath on Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:20 pm

bonsaisr wrote:Let's proceed from semantics to specifics. I am experimenting with growing a few Ficus species under lights. Earlier this year we had a big controversy in the thread on nebari over what constitutes an appropriate medium for growing Ficus in the North. Lately I have been using more of my coarse mix & more aquarium gravel, but I would not go to all gravel. I would like to know what other people are using. Jay in Michigan uses a mix similar to mine in general. Do you modify it for Ficus?
Iris

Iris,

In Michigan (zone 5/6) I use the same mix Jerry M introduced me to, 1/2 lava rock and 1/2 uncomposted fir bark, ficus love it both indoors during the winter and outddors during the summer.


Will

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Will Heath on Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:39 pm

leonardo wrote:

Sorry Will, I missed this. First are you suggesting a plant soil composed of a mix of marbles, tire chips and glass shards would be a soilless mix to grow plants in? This sounds like hydroponics to me eliminating the use of any organic matter.
The premise of the article was simply that (with the proper care) bonsai can be grown in anything that is non-toxic. Crushed toilet seats, marbles, glass, you name it. The trick is developing your personal mix to the care you can give, there are not many people who could or who would care to maintain the constant watering and feeding schedule growing a tree in a bowl of marbles would require. To lessen this workload, organics are an ideal additive, but again, any organics can be used....with the proper care.

There are many people using inorganic mixes for bonsai, and yes the term hydroponics does come to mind. But using soiless mixes for bonsai predates hydroponics, consider the Japanese long practice of using only different sizes of local clay particles or a mix of such with gravel (sand).

I met a guy up north that was begging me to bring him some lava rock or other non-organic material. When I went to visit him I found out he lived next to a stream that had miles of 1/16 to 1/8 inch gravel (river sand) along its shores. He had good inorganic material literally right out his door, but was looking for what he had read about and was willing to pay a premium for it.

Bonsai soil is not magic, a good basic mix using commonly known materials would be 1/3 turface, 1/3 lava rock, and 1/3 pine bark. For deciduous trees, you would add more pine bark, for wet loving trees you might go to 50% pine bark and 25% each of the other ingredients. But this mix could just as well be 1/3 broken auto glass, 1/3 fingernail clippings, and 1/3 chopped sponge. As long as you have an anchoring medium that drains well and that will hold its structure in a pot environment for a number of years AND that does not require more care than you can give, you have a mix that works.

There are lots of people who warn against this or that, but there are always people who show that such warnings are often wrong. Walter Pall uses peat in his mix with excellent results, yet many warn about using peat. Guy Guidry uses a mix consisting of 50% potting soil, the very stuff many claim is certain death for bonsai.

Which brings us back to my first line, The premise of the article was simply that (with the proper care) bonsai can be grown in anything that is non-toxic.


Will


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DEFINE Your Perfect Soil

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:43 pm

Will,
The organic matter in my coarse mix is also fir bark, so we're both in the same chapter, if not the same page. What size particles are in your fir bark, & where do you get it?
Iris

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Henrik Stubelius on Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:01 pm

leonardo wrote:I just gave my lecture on soil hydrology to a group of people and they all walked away more confused than before except one gentleman. He followed the scoop right along with no hesitation or questions. As it turns out he was the co-inventor of the heart pacemaker and did research on developing a kidney dialysis machine. A few scrunched eyebrows when I slipped a little but mostly smooth sailing.

Ciao.....Leonardo
The first internal pacemaker was invented in sweden 1958 by Rune Elmqvist. Two years later an improved version was designed by Wilson Greatbatch from the USA. But the concept as such is much older, the first artificial pacemaker was invented in Sydney 1926. This gentleman must have been at a very respectable age Wink

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Will Heath on Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:23 pm

bonsaisr wrote:Will,
The organic matter in my coarse mix is also fir bark, so we're both in the same chapter, if not the same page. What size particles are in your fir bark, & where do you get it?
Iris

About 1/8 inch particles, needs no screening. I get it from a local bonsai shop called the Bonsai House in Inkster, Michigan. I'll look at a bag later and let you know the source.



Will

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:00 pm

The first internal pacemaker was invented in sweden 1958 by Rune Elmqvist. Two years later an improved version was designed by Wilson Greatbatch from the USA. But the concept as such is much older, the first artificial pacemaker was invented in Sydney 1926. This gentleman must have been at a very respectable age Wink[/quote]



Well well. Check out http://www.answers.com/topic/cordis-corporation
Read about Dr. William Murphy por favor.

Ciao....Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:17 pm

Will Heath wrote:
bonsaisr wrote:Will,
The organic matter in my coarse mix is also fir bark, so we're both in the same chapter, if not the same page. What size particles are in your fir bark, & where do you get it?
Iris

About 1/8 inch particles, needs no screening. I get it from a local bonsai shop called the Bonsai House in Inkster, Michigan. I'll look at a bag later and let you know the source.



Will


Will, I am a little confused. Do you believe a soil mix should have organic matter or not? You say that the simple truth is the ingredients do not matter, it is the function.
Would you expand on this statement as well please.

Ciao......Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:28 pm

Re your previous post. Whats the point in giving a lecture, no one understands? All bar a heart specialist! You seem to have a lot of people confused here as well.
see ya.
Will

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:02 pm

Are you throwing in the towel Will? I did not create or invent this science that is present in every potted plant on this earth. I had nothing to do with the function of the properties of water as in cohesion and adhesion, but it is real and occuring in every bonsai in every continent. Now the only reason I studied it was I became curious to why there were so many answers to this event and why I lost plants out of the blue...drainage and soil hydrology. Why do some people use drain rock on the bottom? Why do some soils drain perfectly well but still hold water? Why do some people tilt their pots? Are all pots designed and created with 100% drainage in mind? Is there such thing as soilless having 100% drainage? Why so many terms to explain this and which terms actually pertains. This sort of stuff is interesting to me Will but that's me I guess.

Ciao....Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:36 pm

It's not a case of throwing in the towel, I find this thread very interesting but im struggling with your explanations. I don't pertain to be an expert in hydrology or physics but I am observant. I have learned over the years that a deep pot, filled with the same media/ species, as a shallow pot, will drain better and therefore, I water the shallow one less. I don't think im the first in this thread to say, shouldnt you be backing up what your saying with hard evidence?
See ya
Will.

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  leonardo on Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:36 am

Do you want to know why there is a difference between a shallow pot and a deep pot Will? You are getting warmer.

Ciao.....Leonardo

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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

Post  John Quinn on Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:10 am

I have a smashing slide show on soils which I gave several years ago...but i can't open the program with my upgraded software programs! In any case, here is a link to some interesting reading from Ohio State...soil particle size and soil saturation... pay special attention to the section on watering containers. I incorporated some of this info into the talk.
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1251.html


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Re: Define Your Perfect Soil!

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