For Ravi - the search for soil components

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For Ravi - the search for soil components

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:56 am

Good Morning to All,

I thought you might find this interesting -

[bonsai9723's Channel ] BONSAI-EASY NEW METHOD-PART 1 OF 3

If the link does not work, just put the above into the youtube search box.

From what I have seen over the years, some bonsai's are just modified hydroponics, using bark as the organic part, which I think in a Temperate climate is slow to break down. Most probably wouldn't work
in the Tropics ? However I do see cocopeat being offered for hydroponics - we get our supply from Sri Lanka.

I am a follower of Rodale's organic farming principles, gleaned from their magazines and books over the last 30 something years. I use a home made compost / cocopeat mix, it used to be a peat moss mix, but I read about the problems with the harvesting and destruction of land issues and just shifted to cocopeat.

The Doctor in the youtube feature presents yet another hydroponic technique, using sphagnum moss.
A few warnings, the man has a friendly face and easy style, the qualities needed to deliver effortlessly information, good or bad or poor.
He has yet to learn how to pronounce the word - Bonsai - and his designs are weak to fair.
But he is very enthusiastic, and like Charles or Graham, the other guys presenting information on Bonsai on a monthly basis on Youtube, enjoyable to watch.

Okay, a secret of mine. Since we have no winter, a few of my glazed bonsai pots are actually just high fired porous earthenware. This allows the pot to wick away extra water and cool the pot / soil as well.
This is how I control the problem with trees that root rot very easily, without having to alter my soil mix excessively.

I tested the idea, the Doctor presents, with a glazed porous earthenware pot. We don't have sphagnum moss, but we do have a similar in appearance moss that grows on the cocoa trees, we call it, cocoa moss naturally - ha ha.
I did as he did and packed the pot with the cocoa moss and stuck in a recently rooted Chinese Snow Rose. After a week in the shade, I placed it in the hot sun and observed. One month later I applied 1/3 strength lawn fertilizer once a week for 5 months. Always applied to moistened cocoa moss.
Around September, more from laziness, I put about 10 grains of Multicote rated for 8 to 10 months.

Pruning was limited to just keeping the cutting tidy.

Works. Presently, I have fine moss [ lawn ] growing on the cocoa moss [ soil ].

I am not at home, but I will ask my friend who is house sitting to send a few images for you to see.

WARNING - There has been at least one reported death from the use of Sphagnum Moss.
[ I come from a family of Physicians and Businessmen, hence the medical bit on toxicology and the legal obligation to notify you, and I do care about your health-- even though we have never met. It's my Roman Catholic upbringing - ha ha ]
Khaimraj Seepersad

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Re: For Ravi - the search for soil components

Post  Ravi Kiran on Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:08 pm

Hi Khaimraj,

Thanks for all the trouble that you have been taking. I am sure it is time well spent for both you and especially for me. I have gone through the youtube video and my first reaction to that is that it is very very radical. It is good to understand that this method is being succesfully used for quiet a few years. I however may not go in for it the whole nine yards. However the usage of Sphagnum moss is something that I have known for quiet sometime.

One of the places where Sphagnum moss has been strongly recommended is while collecting yamadori. After uprooting the tree, it is strongly recommended to wrap them in sphagnum moss. Apparently Sphagnum moss has stuff that not only protects roots but also helps them regenerate. Sphagnum moss has also been recommended for air layering for stimulating root growth. I have also known of people who use shredded sphagnum moss along with other components of soil mix. But using ONLY sphagnum moss I have not heard before until now. So my first reaction is that I would use a higher content of shredded sphagnum moss along with my regular soil composition.

Incidentally cocopeat is also available in India. Coco compost - as the name suggests compost from coconut fibres is also available and I have a bagful of it which I plan to use in my next repotting in 2011 spring. I presume this is an improvement over cocopeat as the coco-compost offers the benefits of compost with the porosity (If I may say so) of coco peat.

The only thing about sphagnum moss is again the cost. But I am sure it is not prohibitive as I have never bought it in bulk.

I do have access to porous earthenware or terracotta pots (I hope they are they same) but they are shunned as display pots as they dont look as good as the traditional ceramic pots. Not too sure if I should try on a few Rolling Eyes

One thing is for sure. Come spring my bonsai garden is going to turn into a Lab as quiet a few experiments are lined up. Cant wait for springtime bounce

Thanks again for taking the time and the trouble.

Ravi Kiran

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Re: For Ravi - the search for soil components

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:33 am


you can have porous earthenware and you can vitreous earthenware. I have a small test kiln, homemade, and I can fire to as high as 1260 deg.c, but I prefer to make the earthenware vitreous at 983 deg.c. These are my simple pots for the Mame'.

With the porous earthenware, I go to the plant nurseries and look for certain shapes that would look good with small bonsai. Because of our close proximity to the US we have Duncan and Mayco readymade glazes. These companies are presently making low fire faux stoneware glazes. These glazes fit the earthenware well and are nice and dull of colour.

It is entirely possible to make well shaped earthenware bonsai pots, and with no winter being porous would be no problem. You can have bleeding porous, and or slightly porous as well.

In my climate, cocopeat soon becomes cococompost, as I blend it with aged compost. I use the cocopeat because it is there, I could just as easily use only compost.

I hope with time you will find a suitable inorganic compound.

If you get really desperate, it is possible to push raw clay through a 5mm square sieve, the worms formed can be dried, broken, and have a potter or use of a kiln to fire it to say 960 deg.c or 1060 deg.c. However you should use an earthenware clay and not a stoneware or very high firing clay.

When I started doing bonsai on the island, I had to be very adaptable and inventive. I am sure with the Internet, and a city search, you will come up with a great soil.

* Styrotex [ stryrofoam ] packing boxes for grapes, used as grow boxes for pre-bonsai ...........
Khaimraj Seepersad

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