Recipe for Muck?

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Recipe for Muck?

Post  Eastern Bonsai on Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:38 pm

Hello everyone,

I was wondering if anyone could share a recipe for muck, to be used on a rock planting (tropicals). Also, would like to know if anyone has tested any recipes that have worked well.

Thanks,
Abe

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  EdMerc on Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:06 pm

Hi Abe,
For a long time I struggled with this idea of muck, worried thinking it's some complicated thing. Turns out it's not.

Here is what I have used for a few years now and it has worked out great.

As a base, I use a manure (yup, manure) called "Black Kow". You can use whatever you find locally. To that I add chopped sphagnum moss. Cut it up pretty course, but short enough to be easily mixed into the soil. And lastly, Bentonite powdered clay. I found some very cheap on eBay. Now I have more than I'll probably every use unless I get heavy into slabs.

Mix it up in a bucket, carefully adding water until you get a sticky muck that's firm enough to hold it's shape.

There you have it. Muck.

Good luck,
Ed

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:36 pm

Wear gloves when handling Bentonite, I THINK it is a asbestos product.

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  Eastern Bonsai on Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:27 pm

Ed & Billy,

Thanks for the reply and information. I will look up the clay for further information.

Thanks,
Abe

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  David D on Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:31 pm

I give up. What is the use of the Muck?

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  EdMerc on Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:28 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Wear gloves when handling Bentonite, I THINK it is a asbestos product.

No, no. Whatever it is your thinking about Billy, it's not this. This clay is so safe for people that, for certain uses, it's actually ingested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bentonite

I actually purchased mine from a soap making supplier. It's an ingredient used in making shave soaps.

Hope this helps,
Ed

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  EdMerc on Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:35 pm

David Forsyth wrote:I give up. What is the use of the Muck?

Muck is used in slab and stone plantings where traditional bonsai soil would not work. It's a self-adhering clay like mud, that solidifies some after drying. It stays permeable enough for water and roots to travel through it, but solid enough to support a bonsai on an otherwise unsupported base. Meaning, a non-pot (i.e.- slab, stone, non-traditional pottery).

Ed

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  coh on Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:20 pm

A little googling revealed that at one time there was a fireproof insulating material called "asbestos plaster" which was composed of bentonite and asbestos. Maybe that's what Billy was thinking of.

Chris

EdMerc wrote:
Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Wear gloves when handling Bentonite, I THINK it is a asbestos product.

No, no. Whatever it is your thinking about Billy, it's not this. This clay is so safe for people that, for certain uses, it's actually ingested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bentonite

I actually purchased mine from a soap making supplier. It's an ingredient used in making shave soaps.

Hope this helps,
Ed

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:33 pm

I have never done MUCK, but when our club members do a demo using it, they wear gloves.

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  David D on Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:56 pm

Thanks Ed, I always wondered how that was done...just another reason for my wife to wonder what the heck I am doing in the garage Smile

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  SamC on Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:31 am

Billy,

I have to wonder if the glove wearing is due to the sphagnum moss in the mix which can may contain the chronic fungal disease sporotrichosis. Spores of this disease can enter the skin via abrasions, scratches, and small puncture wounds as a result of unprotected contact exposure to sphagnum moss.

There is also an inhalation risk as the disease can affect the lungs as well.

But, considering how widespread the use of sphagnum moss is, the infection rate overall seems to be rather low. Its something I am aware of, but haven't gone to using gloves when handing it (which I only rarely do)...yet.


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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  Kev Bailey on Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:02 am

I wear gloves because it is mucky! Any recipe that is friendly to roots, produces something that will stick to the slab or rock, and hold soil in place, can be used. I use potters clay and chopped sphagnum, kneeded until thoroughly mixed.

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  William N. Valavanis on Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:57 am

For the past 40 years I've been using a mixture of 60% Michigan peat (organic peat) and 40% milled sphagnum moss. Sometimes I add some akadama or loam to the mix. It's easiest to first mix dry, then add water to moisten the mix. Often I add some Superthrive to the mix too.

After mixing thoroughly, it is made into small softball size balls and put into poly bags for individual use. Then before using for the rock planting, it is again kneaded. The more mixing, the stickier it becomes and since it's in a poly bag, your hands will not become dirty.

It works for me and my many students.

Bill


Left- 60% Michigan peat (organic peat) and right- 40% milled sphagnum moss



Mix thoroughly



Add water



Add akadama or loam



Mix thoroughly again then make into "balls"

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  EdMerc on Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:44 pm

Bill's post just reminded me of the point I was trying to make but never got around to (this getting older business is not for me).

There are many different ways to make muck, and I'm sure they all work for their proponents. What's important to note is that it's not that complicated. In fact, I'd be wary of a recipe that is complicated.

Look at Bill's muck. It's super simple, and it works. Don't over think it. Use what you have available to you and experiment.

The one thing I strongly recommend is the sphagnum moss. It's also the one thing I've seen just about everyone include in their muck. There's a reason.

It helps hold everything together and keeps the muck from falling apart when it dries and from eroding to quickly when you water. It's good stuff. Make sure you use it.

Good luck.
Ed

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  JimLewis on Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:51 pm

The one thing I strongly recommend is the sphagnum moss. It's also the one thing I've seen just about everyone include in their muck. There's a reason.

It helps hold everything together and keeps the muck from falling apart when it dries and from eroding to quickly when you water. It's good stuff. Make sure you use it.

It also encourages roots.

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  Eastern Bonsai on Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:28 am

Bill,

Thank you for your post and the information. How long can this mix be stored in poly bags?

Thanks again,
Abe

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  William N. Valavanis on Fri Sep 02, 2011 12:03 pm

The much in poly bags can be stored for years, but eventually, it will dry out and all that needs to be done is to simply add water.

Bill

Abe, are you going to visit our Open House & Sale this weekend? The Suiseki Study Group of Upstate New York is having its first exhibit here too. Advanced demonstrations by award winning artists Harvey Carapella and Wm. N. Valavanis too.

All events free!

Bill

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  Guest on Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:57 pm

Hi there Abe, May I add other than the use of muck you use an extra anchorage for your trees to stand firmly while the roots are still being developed.

this is my forest, Since it is in an unconventional slope position it gives extra challenge for the muck and soil to hold on. the trees are well established now.
For this composition I used an extra ingredient- grass. I got the idea of using grass not from bonsai technique but from clay brick making technique.



regards,
jun Smile



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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  AK_Panama on Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:26 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:I have never done MUCK, but when our club members do a demo using it, they wear gloves.

They do the same here but I think that´s jsut because the darn think looks and feels so nasty. Also, depending on the "material" used, it can be difficult to clean off your hands later.

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

Post  Eastern Bonsai on Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:27 am

Bill,

Yes, I plan on stopping by the Open House and Suiseki Exhibit on Sunday. I will se you then.

Jun,

Nice forest, and thanks for the tip.

Abe

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Re: Recipe for Muck?

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