A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

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A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

Post  PeacefulAres on Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:31 am

I've been away from the forum for at least a year but I decided to pop in again. In my time away I've been learning an experimenting frequently, especially with soils/substrates and various containers. Over the last two years I've made a mix that I think works very well in south florida, with the advantage of being pretty cheap and readily available. Keep in mind that I only have trees in development, so this probably does not apply to old, established trees.

Anyway, the mix is as follows: 1 part turface/napa part #8822/other fired particle, 1 part perlite and 1 part peat nuggets. The peat nuggets are the tricky part, as you have to break up a block of peat moss and run it all through a screen. I usually use a window screen or kitchen sieve. Once you sift the peat, you get nice little nuggets of peat moss.

This mix is very light, airy and water basically falls through the container. It should also be readily available in almost every part of the US. You can obviously dial certain parts of the mix up to down to suit your environment because it's a flexible recipe. I know soils are a contentious discussion in bonsai, so I wont say this is the best. If you have a lot of tress in development, it might be worth a shot though.

PeacefulAres
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Re: A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

Post  coh on Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:07 am

I've done some experimenting with the "peat nuggets" method, it was suggested to me a few years ago by Julian Adams. He uses something like 70% turface/20% peat nuggets/10% granite grit. Those numbers are probably off slightly, but you get the idea.

I haven't really evaluated how well the peat nuggets hold up over time...did notice a fair amount of degradation during the mixing phase as the harder particles do tend to shred the peat to some degree. Have you found that to be a problem at all?

coh
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Re: A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

Post  PeacefulAres on Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:37 am

coh wrote:I've done some experimenting with the "peat nuggets" method, it was suggested to me a few years ago by Julian Adams. He uses something like 70% turface/20% peat nuggets/10% granite grit. Those numbers are probably off slightly, but you get the idea.

I haven't really evaluated how well the peat nuggets hold up over time...did notice a fair amount of degradation during the mixing phase as the harder particles do tend to shred the peat to some degree. Have you found that to be a problem at all?

I haven't noticed the peat nuggets breaking down during the the mixing phase. I suppose I should have mentioned that I break everything up on a piece of hard ware cloth with 1/4 inch mesh before I sift it. That gets rid of any extremely large particles, but it probably also assures that the left over nuggets are fairly sturdy bits of peat. I'm not sure how long the peat nuggets would last, but when I have repotted plants that have been in this mix for a year or two, the substrate was still very loose and airy. Maybe the peat nuggets break down and allow roots to grow in the gaps while the calcined clay/Diatomite and perlite retain the structure.

EDIT: To add to this discussion, a lot of my plants are in colanders or pond baskets. When I look through the holes in the sides, I can see individual pieces of calcined clay/DE, perlite and peat nuggets. So I think it hold up after mixing and water.

PeacefulAres
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Re: A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:24 am

Welcome back !!

Great to see you found a mix that works for you.
Some Images would be nice of works in progress.
Best Wishes.
Laters.
Khaimraj

Khaimraj Seepersad
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Re: A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

Post  PeacefulAres on Mon Dec 21, 2015 5:00 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Welcome back !!

Great to see you found a mix that works for you.
Some Images would be nice of works in progress.
Best Wishes.
Laters.
Khaimraj

I'm sure there are better mix for trees with mature, established roots, but this mix works for my fast growing crape myrtles, mulberries etc.

I'll try to take a picture of a few of my trees in the next week or so.

PeacefulAres
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Re: A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

Post  coh on Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:39 pm

PeacefulAres wrote:
I haven't noticed the peat nuggets breaking down during the the mixing phase. I suppose I should have mentioned that I break everything up on a piece of hard ware cloth with 1/4 inch mesh before I sift it. That gets rid of any extremely large particles, but it probably also assures that the left over nuggets are fairly sturdy bits of peat. I'm not sure how long the peat nuggets would last, but when I have repotted plants that have been in this mix for a year or two, the substrate was still very loose and airy. Maybe the peat nuggets break down and allow roots to grow in the gaps while the calcined clay/Diatomite and perlite retain the structure.

EDIT: To add to this discussion, a lot of my plants are in colanders or pond baskets. When I look through the holes in the sides, I can see individual pieces of calcined clay/DE, perlite and peat nuggets. So I think it hold up after mixing and water.

Thanks for the additional info. I'll have to play around with this some more...I know it certainly works very well for Julian.

coh
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Re: A decent, inexpensive substrate I have been using for a while

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