Limestone in soil mixes ?

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Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  marcus watts on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:16 pm

Hi,
I spent a while reading the history of the wild japanese shimpaku juniper and the collectors who risked their lives to collect them. Tucked away in the story was the fact the trees all grew on limestone mountains and struggled when collected to adapt to soils like akadama, kyrinu etc that come from more acidic areas further away.

I have a couple of very healthy shimpaku junipers but it is always possible to improve things....is anyone using limestone, or a percentage limestone in thier juniper soils? or using powdered garden lime as a soil aditive maybe?

cheers Marcus

Here is a link to the story in case you havent read it..,,Shimpakuhttp://web.archive.org/web/20040617054157/http://www.bonsai-wbff.org/shimpaku/shim1.shtml

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:22 pm

Or it could be the other way around. The trees struggled and became good candidates for Bonsai because of the poor soil conditions and we are growing them in better soil conditions.

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  Lee Kennedy on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:28 pm

in short,yes it is a good idea.Trees coming off lime based soils into acidic soils(akadama is highly acidic with a lower ph than kanuma!) struggle greatly to take in nutrients,this was all explained in great length to me by a friend who is a rhs gardener,and a good collector of urban trees.The science all works out.Now the interesting thing,pines like acidic soil,myccorhizza prefer alkaline work that one out.

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  sunip on Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:47 pm

[quote="Lee Kennedy"](akadama is highly acidic with a lower ph than kanuma!)
Should that be the other way round?

Sunip

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  Lee Kennedy on Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:10 pm

[quote="sunip"]
Lee Kennedy wrote:(akadama is highly acidic with a lower ph than kanuma!)
Should that be the other way round?

Sunip
No,that is what everyone thinks but akadama is frequently ph5.5-6 versus kanuma ph6.5,its just that most people dont test it.The real benefit of kanuma to azaelea's is the extra water holding capacity,also pines love it when you have around 10% in the mix.
It was when i stumbled across link a few years ago that i tested some of my own samples http://illumbomb.blogspot.com/2008/07/ph-test-of-various-substrates.html, that was when i tested what i had at thetime and found my own results,this guy found kanuma 6.5 akadama 6.6 and used distilled water to test,i used local tap water and found a greater range in the bags of akadama,i use akadama as a base for all mixes so it didnt stop me using it at all,just found it interesting


Last edited by Lee Kennedy on Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:31 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  sunip on Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:23 pm

,also pines love it when you have around 10% in the mix[/quote]

I agree with that, but i do not use it with pines that overwinter outdoors.
I did a test, the outcome was that the PH of kanuma is much lower than akadama??
But thanks for the warning, next time i will cheque both BEFORE using it in the pot
Sunip

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  fiona on Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:37 pm

Just out of interest, if you test using tap water don't you have to take into account the nature of the local water? The water around here is very soft and therefore on the acidic side already. But if I tested where my sister lives in Bristol surely their hard water would make a difference? And heaven knows the difference if I tested where she used to live in the south coast where the tap water was undrinkable because it was so limey.

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  sunip on Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:15 pm

Hi
I was thinking of the tapwater to (mine is soft), but the text on my testbox does not mention anything about tapwater ph.
Lee used distilled water, would that be best?
Sunip

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  JimLewis on Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:15 am

We keep using "pines" and "juniper" as generic words, but ALL pines don't prefer acid soils and ALL junipers don't prefer alkaline soils. Probably not even "most" of them. Some of each don't care.

You should learn what the normal growing area of whatever species is to determine the best soils for that species.

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  marcus watts on Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:57 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Or it could be the other way around. The trees struggled and became good candidates for Bonsai because of the poor soil conditions and we are growing them in better soil conditions.

hi, I dont think so from reading the whole article - basically every japanese yamadori shimpaku used for bonsai came from one mountain region and, when they were depleated a pioneer hunter discovered another mountain valley with a population of the variety we know as ityogawa. These trees were completely natural and had been growing for 1000's of years on these slopes and mountains. If they prefered different conditions they would have grown further south in the areas where the akadama and kiyru are found. The collectors had many problems with survival rates and establishment of the trees, partly they thought due to change of soil type & ph

Re ph testing its something we are constantly doing for work and it is easier to use distiled water of neutral ph (7.0) - firstly you need to calibrate the test meter though with a proper ph calibration solution - for a test like this you'd use 7.0 or 6.8 solution to set your meter. Then make a solution of powdered soil and pre-checked 7.0 water. Shake well, let rest and test. Both akadama and kiryu are more acidic than the soil from the juniper sites so i'm wondering if we could be doing better rather than accepting what has become the accepted norm?. It looks like we are all doing the same though with our shimpaku chinensis juniper bonsai soil - i will have a bit of an experiment this year i think.

cheers

Marcus

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  drgonzo on Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:52 am

If you're testing the hydrogen ion concentration of your soil in solution and the water you use is tap water, the buffering effect of the soil will be very different from what you would observe with distilled water due to your local waters inherent alkalinity. So for assessing what sort of soil conditions you have when you use your own local water for your plants that sort of test is excellent, but for making a broad statement that one soil buffers more than another in all conditions it is necessary to test with distilled water as Marcus says.

As for Marcus's Junipers I agree that those trees had to change the way they absorb their nutrients to fit what no doubt was a heavily basic water supply (rainwater through Limestone) therefore when collected it would have been proper to change the ph of the water bearing the nutrients around the roots in order to better mimic the natural conditions. This could either be done by playing with alkaline soil amendments or more accurately with simply changing the Ph of the fertilizer water they are treated with. As plants only see nutrients when dissolved in water, and thats the only time a plants preferred Ph range matters, at chow time.

It doesn't surprise me that this was an issue as the chemical science behind plant nutrient absorption has only "relatively" recently been understood and studied. The yamadori hunters of 100 years ago lacked the agricultural research of say Cornell university, unfortunately.

-Jay

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  Gary Swiech on Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:57 am

I only find one reference to adding limestone to the soil of Shimpaku.

It's in the book: Bonsai miniature potted trees, 1964 by Kyuzo Murata.

On page 90 he says, "Shimpaku" should be transplanted once every 3 years in Spring when the buds have begun to appear.

The soil for transplanting should be a mixture of 7 parts Red clay and 3 parts of course sand. There should be a thin layer of crushed limestone at the bottom of the container.

That's all.


Last edited by Gary Swiech on Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:58 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  marcus watts on Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:42 am

hi Gary,
well found - our club library has the book - i'll check it out for other snipets of wisdom.

I still think our modern scientific 'must prove' everything society has a lot to learn from old proven methods and the undisputed proof gained from generations of experience. i love to experiment like the next man, but I will wait a decade or so before saying my experiments are worthy.

Thanks again Gary for the ref.

Marcus

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  snobird on Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:46 am

No need to go through all the effort procuring limestone. A few bits of charcoal in the bottom of the pot or finer bits in your soil mix will "sweeten" the soil.

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Re: Limestone in soil mixes ?

Post  Gary Swiech on Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:52 am

Marcus,

Bonsai miniature potted trees, 1964 by by Kyuzo Murata is old but so is The Art of Miniature Trees and Landscapes by Yoshimura and Halford and they amongst other books and new bonsai magazines I go back to for the basics.

I've been collecting Bonsai books for 36 years so there is quite a library. Plus a lot of old books on Bonsai. I go Kyuzo Murata books the most often if I need help with something.

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