Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

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Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Mike Jones on Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:09 pm


Or just simply not bothered with. Tidying up that surface I mean Smile The use of Akadama and similar products, along with the plethora of surface weeds that can be found in Bonsai, left unchecked could mean your beloved tree is being starved of water and nutrients.

I'm not posting for an argument; just for the benefit of folks that may be new to bonsai, and miss this one important issue. As an example this White Pine was repotted twelve months ago, and will likely not be repotted again for many years. Over time, the surface becomes very compacted, and just a simple exercise will mean your tree or plant can once again receive what you give it. For me this is a time consuming process; taking far longer than a smaller tree would be to repot. However; I find the process as therapeutic as it gets. A cup of tea or coffee by the side is an essential part; or slightly stronger if you like:)

I use a combination of well worn 'pointy-rounded' Japanese chopsticks (like the tree is bothered where it comes from Razz ) a small rake, my fingers and a pair of tweezers. A brush is helpful, and a stiffer one for cleaning away the build up of the 'green stuff.' Algae mostly.

The operation is intended to ensure the surface is broken up so that water and feed can penetrate rather than running off. The other great benefit is the removal of weeds.

Looks stark I'll grant you; but not being shown so what it look likes and at home display is what matters. This one almost died in 2010 / 2011; much work has arrested that decline.

So just two hours start to finish and the water is penetrating the rootball perfectly.








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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  marcus watts on Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:31 pm

excelent advice on an often ignored bit of pot care.

just a little addition - I spray all my pots with round-up when they get weedy - really works well when you get a dandelion root going down through the tree roots too. I use one of the ready mixed hand sprayers on a very still morning and have been doing this for years. This kills the weed roots as well, and this year I'm playing with the Canna enzyme treatment that breaks down dead roots and converts them into substances that actually feed the living roots. This combination could keep the soil healthier for longer too - time will tell.

Cheers

Marcus

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Poink88 on Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:32 pm

Very nice trees! Thanks for the tip.

Your place is very neat and well manicured. I like it, must be very relaxing to be out there. Are those piglets on the background?


Last edited by Poink88 on Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Mike Jones on Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:34 pm

Poink88 wrote:Very nice!

Your place is very neat and well manicured. I like it, must be very relaxing to be out there. Are those piglets on the background?

Ahh no, they are small resin sheep cheers Oh ... thank you.

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  JMcCoy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:29 am

Very nice!! The surface soil is something that is often forgotten and misused with weed, bits of dead leaves/twigs, fine clogging particles and discolored lime or algae covered mess. Kathy Shaner suggested that every year (usually fall going into winter) the top 1/4 - 1/2 inch of the soil on our Bonsai should be removed and replaced with clean top dressing. It's something I need to do more often. Great post and beautiful pine!

Marcus - I know a Bonsai guy here who uses Roundup on his Bonsai in a large greenhouse to control weeds. BUT.. I would be very cautious recommending it to people. I've seen its effects on Ilex and a couple of other species that get stunted, curled leaves & branches looking like they have some kind of virus infection. I don't know if these are permanent or fatal, but it definitely gave me pause!

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Mike Jones on Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:59 am

I knew someone who did exactly what Marcus suggested for years and for them it was a perfect solution having a huge collection to look after that is.

Yes I personally enjoy getting in there with tweezers, my little rake, that Japanese chopstick (sorry I chuckle on that every time) brushes and end up replacing top of soil. I suppose the only slight or potential downside may be someone going a bit heavy handed and damaging a significant surface root …maybe?

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  marcus watts on Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:18 am

JMcCoy wrote:I know a Bonsai guy here who uses Roundup on his Bonsai in a large greenhouse to control weeds. BUT.. I would be very cautious recommending it to people. I've seen its effects on Ilex and a couple of other species that get stunted, curled leaves & branches looking like they have some kind of virus infection. I don't know if these are permanent or fatal, but it definitely gave me pause!

thats interesting, cheers. I would say he probably has the nozzel making too fine a mist and this will 'float' onto the underside of the bonsai leaves, especially in a still environment like a greenhouse. I do set the nozzel to make heavy droplets so they go straight down onto the weeds, and obviously common sense comes into play regarding weather, the care taken and if you can just pull the weed out. It is the stuborn dandelions and weeds that send long root systems into the pots that are killed briliantly by spraying. I have used my blowtorch on dense 'carpet' weeds too............(and the ash is fertiliser), but again you wouldnt recomend it too a clumsy or clueless individual in case they set the tree alight Very Happy

Roundup would be damaging to any tree that has a 'green' or very young trunk too - it is safe going up to the woody bark of a mature trunk though - Part of my job used to be spraying acres and acres of stock beds in a huge famous UK nursery (Hilliers) and the beds held many 1000's of mature and very valuable shrubs & trees so I guess I have a fair experience of spraying.

good extra info though, so 'user beware'

cheers Marcus

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Mark on Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:58 am

Pigglets playing soccer with resin sheep aside,
That is a fine looking 5 Needle pine you have sir!

Mark

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Fore on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:27 pm

marcus watts wrote:excelent advice on an often ignored bit of pot care.

just a little addition - I spray all my pots with round-up when they get weedy - really works well when you get a dandelion root going down through the tree roots too. I use one of the ready mixed hand sprayers on a very still morning and have been doing this for years. This kills the weed roots as well, and this year I'm playing with the Canna enzyme treatment that breaks down dead roots and converts them into substances that actually feed the living roots. This combination could keep the soil healthier for longer too - time will tell.

Cheers

Marcus

Round Up? I'm really amazed it doesn't harm the tree!

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Poink88 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:41 pm

Mike Jones wrote:Ahh no, they are small resin sheep cheers Oh ... thank you.
I can't imagine you managing to keep your yard as nice as it is with piglets!!! (the reason I asked) lol!

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Mike Jones on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:55 pm

Nice one Dario thumbs up

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  drgonzo on Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:36 pm

Mark wrote:Pigglets playing soccer with resin sheep aside,
That is a fine looking 5 Needle pine you have sir!

Mark

How long have you had the tree Mike?
-Jay

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

Post  Mike Jones on Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:09 pm

Afternoon Jay

Twenty nine years. My first purchased tree. Very heavy now so the repot last year (late spring 2011) will be the last now for quite some years. Now I am retired early due to poor health, I can at least manage it, along with my other bits of wood in pots that I pretend are my Bonsai. ThumbsUp

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Re: Sometimes Forgotten; soil surface.

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