Rotting soil..?

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Rotting soil..?

Post  Storm on Sat May 01, 2010 4:29 pm

So, Im wondering about a few things regarding the cat sand Im using.
I have a plum tree standing outside. Its in full sun most of the time. It was collected earlier this year and seems to do very well.
The leaves are coming all over the tree and showing good signs. Hopefully its gonna live after it has spent most of the strength in the roots.
Now is the bad part. It is planted in 100% cat litter. The stuff I found to be good to trees.
I have made alot of holes under the box, it is placed on 2 planks, so it wont be standing directly at the ground, and the water can come out. I did not have any larger gravel at the bottom of the box. Some water is retained in the bottom, maybe about 1.5-2 inches. It has been this way the whole time, and now it is getting green on the place the water has been. Doesnt that sound much like it rotting? And what shall I do then?
Should I leave the tree since it is a newly aquired one? Shall I take my chances repotting it again and make larger holes up the sides too?
I have also used this on the trees I have inside. They are in bonsai pots, but do they suffer the same destiny? I wait untill its getting dry at the top before I water, but it gets dry very fast and I dont want the upper roots to dry out. On some pots, the soil that have been on the top has something that looks like mold on it. Like if bread or something is rotting. Only with a more greyish look. I dont have decent pics atm.

Thanks - Storm.

Storm
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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  F. Waheedy on Sat May 01, 2010 6:03 pm

Hi Storm,

I've got all my trees in Tesco's cat litter. Both collected and re potted. and they all seem to be doing quite well. Just make sure you don't wait for the soil to get dry. I water my trees twice every day. With Cat little, Over watering is no problem, but yes, they do dry out really fast which could kill a tree.

Also, you need to rake / rotate the top soil to avoid the mold.

Good luck my friend.

Regds.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  Guest on Sat May 01, 2010 11:49 pm

Hello Storm. 1 to 2 " of water sounds like a lot to me. How big are the drainage holes? Some pictures would be helpfull.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  Storm on Sun May 02, 2010 8:15 am

The box I think is about 71cm x 17cm x 40 cm, and the holes are about 1 inch wide. Randomly placed around the bottom which I just carved out. There are also alot of very small ones I made with a drill. I think there should be maybe 5-6 of those big ones under it. Also have alot of those small ones on the bottom sides. The box is standing 2 inches abow the ground. Ill see if I can get some pictures later today. Too busy to get it done now.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  DreadyKGB on Sun May 02, 2010 3:06 pm

Storm,
My guess would be that because of the standing water in the bottom of the pot you are getting some algae growth. This would surely cause the cat litter to take on a green color. In standing water with full sun and exposure to the air algae can grow very quickly. With the many tests bonsai enthusiasts have done on some of the cat litter varieties I doubt that it is rotting, but it may also depend on the brand you are using. Pictures would be helpful to know for sure. A few more drain holes, and lifting it further from the ground would probably help. Algae can encourage serious root rot. Good Luck.

Todd

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  bonsaistud on Wed May 05, 2010 10:25 am

G'day Storm...

IMAFMHO (InMyAncientFeebleMindedHumbleOpinion)…

Here in the USA, I do not know of a Litter Label that is safe to use for bonsai in any way. If you are using Litter that has been recommended by somebody in Europe, with significant bonsai experience, the litter should be OK.

HOWSOMEEVER...if your plum has been standing in 1-2" of water for several months, you are almost certainly headed toward a crash and burn. You MUST provide complete drainage...for the vast majority of potted trees.

The high water may have already taken you to the point of no return.

Remember, I said IMAFMHO.

Good luck with your plum...

Pat…mounted on my trusty stead, riding off wildly in all directions…

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  RKatzin on Wed May 05, 2010 2:32 pm

Everything sounds correct, except the drainage. With that many holes the water should run right through, unless the holes are plugged. Did you rinse the kitty litter before using it? My guess is that fines from the litter have collected in the drain holes and has them plugged. Not all cat litter is siutable for use in pots. Some will turn mushy when it sits in water or if it freezes and thaws. The top will stay solid, but the bottom stuff gets mushy. This will plug your drainage. Lift the box so you can see the drain holes and have a look. With your hose on fine spray gently wash the screens over the holes and see if that helps. If your litter is getting mushy you'll have to replace it with a better brand. To test cat litter put some in a bowl of water and let it sit for a few days and see if it begins to break down. If it's still solid after a few days then put it in the freezer and put it through a few freeze/thaw rotations. If it's still retaining solidity after that it's ok to use. It needs to be washed to remove fines and sized to remove larger and smaller pieces.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  Storm on Wed May 05, 2010 2:42 pm

Thanks for many good advice, I really appriciate it.
It is a type that I have read should be the most suitable for bonsai that I can get my hands on in Norway.
I think the last tip is the one that I have to check next. I did not wash the litter before using it. When I water it the first time Ive put it in the pot, a dust cloud merges from the pots. Small particles could easilly have clumped in the bottom.
So, my plan is to carefully take the tree out, make more drainage holes, and secure it properly, then have a small layer of more coarse grit in the bottom, then put the tree back in in just the same as it is. Does this sound good to you? The thing that puts me off a bit is that I dug the tree up this year.
Im afraid repotting would kill it. The thing is that when I water the tree, water pours out very fast, but it slows alot down when it gets shallower, leaving the last laying on the bottom.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  Guest on Wed May 05, 2010 2:51 pm

Not a good idea to remove the tree from the pot. It will probably kill it. I presume it's in leaf? Just make some more holes in the base. Water in the bottom shouldn't hurt the tree too much during the Summer. You can repot the tree in early Autumn, before the bad weather.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  Storm on Wed May 05, 2010 3:00 pm

Alright! And thanks Wink
Its leaf'ing out now.

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Rotting Soil

Post  bonsaisr on Mon May 10, 2010 2:03 pm

If your plum is a variety that is hardy where you live, your best bet is to take it out of the training box in one piece without disturbing the roots, & plant it right in the ground. Leave it there until next spring. Meanwhile, contact other bonsai growers in Scandinavia & see if you can come up with a better soil mix. And no matter what you use, wash or sift everything. I wash my ingredients in a strainer or colander before I mix them. What do you have covering the drain holes? It should be some sort of coarse screen. Many of us use plastic needlepoint canvas from the craft store.
The grey mold on top of your soil is a sign of too much fertilizer, poor drainage, excessively hard water, or all of the above. Not good. No
Putting your tropicals outdoors for the summer will help. Also, when you water, make sure the water POURS through the soil, not just dribble.
Iris

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  bonsaistud on Mon May 10, 2010 4:56 pm

"...Water in the bottom shouldn't hurt the tree too much...".

I always thought we should strive for the best growing envirenment we could come up with rather than to settle for "...shouldn't hurt the tree too much...". N'est-ce pas?

IMAFMHO…

Pat…mounted on my trusty stead, riding off wildly in all directions…

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  Guest on Mon May 10, 2010 5:05 pm

bonsaistud wrote:"...Water in the bottom shouldn't hurt the tree too much...".

I always thought we should strive for the best growing envirenment we could come up with rather than to settle for "...shouldn't hurt the tree too much...". N'est-ce pas?

IMAFMHO…

Pat…mounted on my trusty stead, riding off wildly in all directions…

The tree was collected this winter. The new roots are unlikely to extend too much in the first year and certainly not all in the bottom of the pot. I suggested getting it out of the pot in early Autumn. A maximum of 4 months. I repeat, do not remove it from the pot. As freshly potted, all the soil will fall off and the tree will DIE.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  JimLewis on Mon May 10, 2010 8:35 pm

If the box it is in is sitting directly on the ground (or table) and has no legs or isn't sitting up off the surface somehow, the water won't drain no matter how many holes there are drilled in the bottom. There needs to be a space between the bottom of the box and the ground or table.

_________________
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: Rotting soil..?

Post  Storm on Mon May 10, 2010 10:41 pm

Its about 2 inches abowe the ground, sitting on 2 planks. One on each side, at the edges, with almost the whole box free.
Ive also made some holes around the entire box, which seems to provide much better drainage. If it is adequate, I yet have too see.
Seems good so far. Thanks for many opinions about the subject. Help is much appriciated.
The green layer havent gotten away yet, Im hoping that leaving it drain better at the sides and with fast running water will make it be more easilly washed away.

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Re: Rotting soil..?

Post  Guest on Mon May 10, 2010 10:49 pm

Why oh why oh why don't people take time to read the previous posts!!!!!!!!!!!!! The pot is off the ground. Its in fresh soil, so taking it out of the pot without disurbing the roots is impossible. The tree is in leaf. Theres nothing can be done until Autumn.

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