cat litterI

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cat litterI

Post  moyogi john on Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:56 am

I see a post comming from england about kitty litter named sophisticat pink..these fellow bonsai people use this in their potting mix.. is there a name brand in the u.s. west virgenia that will work like this and not turn to mush in a short time??? they say it can be used for long periods of time.. thanks john

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Kitty Litter?

Post  bonsaisr on Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:34 am

Your best bet is Turface or the equivalent. It is baked clay fired at a much higher temperature than kitty litter. If you can't find Turface, inquire in a pond store for argillite (clay baked by nature) or a medium for planting pond plants. Haydite (expanded shale) may also be used. It comes in various sizes. It is less absorbent than Turface, but performs a similar function.
Iris

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kitty litter

Post  moyogi john on Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:40 am

Thank you for your quick reply..i will keep looking.thanks john

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Re: cat litterI

Post  prestontolbert on Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:59 am

At NAPA auto parts stores you can find a oil dry product that is the same material as sophisticat. Read the back of the label and make sure it lists "calcined diatomaceous earth" as the only ingredient. It has superior absorbency and very little dust. I usually don't wash it, but if you do, the waste water is a great aphid destroyer. I bought a large bag today for about 9 dollars.
-Preston

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kitty litter

Post  moyogi john on Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:05 am

Thanks for your reply..that i can check out here in town...thanks much john

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Vance Wood on Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:36 am

This question comes up from time to time and should be archived somewhere but I will address my opinion on the subject here. If you are growing deciduous or tropical trees Kitty Litter or Oil Dri will work fine. If you are growing conifers that require longer periods between repotting you are better served with Turface, also known as calcined clay. It is baked at higher temperatures than Oil Dri or Kitty Litter and will not break down as quickly. The company known as Schultz also markets a product called ceramic soil conditioner, which is high fired calcined clay and works equally well as Turface. Remember that Kitty Litter and Oil Dri are both designed to absorb things that are to be discarded latter and as such, the ability to hold up over a long period of time is not a necessity. Few companies make a product better, at a higher cost to produce, than the product's description and purpose call for. To assume anything else is to gamble with inconsistencies that could cause you problems latter on.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  prestontolbert on Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:37 am

I have access to kilns and was wondering if there was any advantage to firing diatomaceous earth to higher temps. I routinely calcine kaolins for glazes to 1800 F. It wouldn't be a big deal to load a kiln with maybe 200 pounds of oil dry and fire up to over 2000 F. That would be enough to last me several years. I'll put 10-15 pounds in the next kiln load and post the results. It seems to me the advantage of D.E. is the porous nature and the ability to hold water. With clay we do absorbtion tests with a gram scale. The material is weighed then soaked or boiled, allowed to visibly dry, then weighed again. I could try this and see if the higher fired D.E. is absorbent enough to be a better alternative to Turface.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Vance Wood on Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:47 pm

prestontolbert wrote:I have access to kilns and was wondering if there was any advantage to firing diatomaceous earth to higher temps. I routinely calcine kaolins for glazes to 1800 F. It wouldn't be a big deal to load a kiln with maybe 200 pounds of oil dry and fire up to over 2000 F. That would be enough to last me several years. I'll put 10-15 pounds in the next kiln load and post the results..

I have never tried anything like this but it deserves a try. Let us know how it works.

prestontolbert wrote: It seems to me the advantage of D.E. is the porous nature and the ability to hold water. With clay we do absorbtion tests with a gram scale. The material is weighed then soaked or boiled, allowed to visibly dry, then weighed again. I could try this and see if the higher fired D.E. is absorbent enough to be a better alternative to Turface.

Actually the advantage of Turface and similar products is not that it hold moisture but that it has a cation exchange capacity; the ability to hold onto hydrogen ions stabilizing the soil's ability to retain fertilizers (the short version). DE is not clay but mostly calcium and phosphorus, if I remember my chemistry from High School. In other words it is not the same stuff and does not function the same way.

In bonsai you are not so much interested in retaining moisture but in having a soil mix that drains rapidly, especially with Pines and Mugos in particular. There is a thing called field capacity which is the amount of moisture a soil mix will retain before water runs off measured over a predetermined length of time. In bonsai it is important that your field capacity is consistent and does not change much over the period of years. Once a soil starts to break down your field capacity will increase and your drainage will slow. Products like Kitty Litter and Oil Dri break down too fast and quickly increase field capacity.

Once the break down progresses your soil will not circulate air and you will get root rot. This is the main reason for root rot, not too much water but too little air circulation. Many people are surprised to learn that a soil must breath. The water goes in and forces the air out. As the water drains out it pulls the air in, refreshing the soil and discouraging the kinds of fungus that cause root rot. Many are told that if you water too much you will get root rot, the truth is, if your soil stays wet this means that there is too much water retention due to the fact that there is no way for the water to drain out and pull in fresh air. If this happens you will get root rot. It's not the water but the lack of circulation.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  irene_b on Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:01 pm

Runs about $12. for a 50 pound bag...

http://www.ewing1.com/general/ews_prd_turface.htm

http://www.profileproducts.com/en/sports_fields/category/item/37

Irene

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Re: cat litterI

Post  stan on Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:56 pm

I cant comment on Oil Dri but i can on S/ pink. S/P has been tried and tested and is proven not to break down. I have heard of people boiling and re boiling S/P and still it doesn't break unlike Akadama.. All but one of my trees are in S/P Conifers and all are thriving with better roots system than any of my trees did when they were in akadama. Lots of people frown apon Cat Litter. Most people at my bonsai club turn their noses up when i bang on about it. Each to there own i suppose.
Join the kitty club. you wont look back..... Cool

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Rick Moquin on Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:57 pm

... anything and everything you ever wanted to know about kitty litter.

http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Vance Wood on Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:52 pm

stan wrote:I cant comment on Oil Dri but i can on S/ pink. S/P has been tried and tested and is proven not to break down. I have heard of people boiling and re boiling S/P and still it doesn't break unlike Akadama.. All but one of my trees are in S/P Conifers and all are thriving with better roots system than any of my trees did when they were in akadama. Lots of people frown apon Cat Litter. Most people at my bonsai club turn their noses up when i bang on about it. Each to there own i suppose.
Join the kitty club. you wont look back..... Cool

Here is the rub: You site a specific brand of Kitty Litter, S/pink? That's fine for you and you have good reason to not change because it works for you. Most people will not think they need a specific brand of Kitty Litter they will only think Kitty Litter and the trouble begins. As to the product you have mentioned I have only just now heard of it, and I have never seen it. So in the end we are not talking about Kitty Litter in general but a specific product you call S/pink. For most of use outside of your area we might just as well be talking about Moon dust, no offence intended. In the end you are talking about a specific product, S/pink, used as a Kitty Litter that by any other standards does not even compare to what most people associate with Kitty Litter.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  stan on Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:11 pm

No offence taken Cool

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Kev Bailey on Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:30 pm

Sophisticat Pink is Calcined montmorilinite.
Many other named brands of kitty litter are also Calcined montmorilinite.
Turface is 100% Montmorilinite clay that has been milled to a specific size and calcined.

They are all the same thing under different brand names. It's all good stuff. You just have to make sure you've done your homework, wherever you are.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Rick Moquin on Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:53 pm

The link above from Harry H contains altenatives by country/region. He uses Tesco in the UK, in his neck of the woods

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Kev Bailey on Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:11 pm

I've used the Tesco one but found it too fine for larger trees. Great for Mame / Shohin.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  stan on Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:16 pm

I agree Kevin. I use Tesco premium cat litter for those sized trees myself. I made the mistake at 1st and brought Tesco cat litter, not premium. A mistake i wont make again Wink

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Re: cat litterI

Post  carol1 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:22 pm

Kev Bailey wrote:I've used the Tesco one but found it too fine for larger trees. Great for Mame / Shohin.

So it is bad for bigger trees? Why?

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:26 pm

Small particles = a more compact mix and slower drainage, which in a large pot could mean constantly wet soil. Larger particles gives a more open mix and sharper drainage which is what my larger trees want, most of the time. It does depend on the tree species though. Some need a wetter mix, Wisteria, Alder, Willow, Taxodium, Azalea etc.

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Cat Litter

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:54 pm

confused
I think there is still some confusion here. Montmorilinite is a form of clay, aluminum or magnesium silicate. Argillite is a clay based rock, like slate & shale, with similar properties. Diatomite is made of the skeletons of micro-organisms, & is similar to sand. I got the following from the Web site of a company that sells diatomite.
"Diatomite consists of approximately 90% silicon dioxide, with the remainder of its contents being elemental minerals.
All Diatomite is not created equal. You may be familiar with diatomaceous earth that is used in filters and as an insect and slug repellant. These types of products are not suitable for horticulture because the diatoms are of salt-water origin, leaving them with a high salinity level that is not suitable for plants."
Some cat litters are diatomite, others are clay based. They may not produce the same horticultural results. If you want diatomite, you can buy it graded & packaged for horticultural use. Considering the value of our trees, it might not be sensible to try to save a few bucks on something that is not intended for horticultural purposes. bounce
Iris

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Re: cat litterI

Post  carol1 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:27 pm

Kev Bailey wrote:Small particles = a more compact mix and slower drainage, which in a large pot could mean constantly wet soil. Larger particles gives a more open mix and sharper drainage which is what my larger trees want, most of the time. It does depend on the tree species though. Some need a wetter mix, Wisteria, Alder, Willow, Taxodium, Azalea etc.

Ok! Thank you for reply Smile

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Re: cat litterI

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:05 pm

moyogi john wrote:Thanks for your reply..that i can check out here in town...thanks much john

Of course if you let us know where you are from (your profile is an excellent place to do that) we might be able to suggest where you can find Turface or one of its clones.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  Bruce Winter on Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:12 am

I've used diatomite from Australia for years and like everything about it. It doesn't break down and is as esthetically pleasing as akadama.

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Re: cat litterI

Post  bonsaistud on Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:00 am

"...Considering the value of our trees, it might not be sensible to try to save a few bucks on something that is not intended for horticultural purposes...".

Nicely stated Iris.

Pat

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kitty litter

Post  moyogi john on Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:50 pm

thanks everyone lot of opions here.i will find one of the things noted.....thanks john

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