Author Topic: Akadama Substitutes  (Read 20824 times)

Sulaiman

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2012, 09:37 AM »
Our mixture in South Africa

30-60% gravel/stone- between 3-6mm Worcester stone
25-40% potting soil or milled bark
10-30% river sand if you can get
 Add ons
Bone meal
Osmocote fertilizer
Phosphorous ferilizer
blood meal

Most important thing is that you soil has aeration and that your soil dries up between watering other than that a tree can only grow so fast in a year and if you clip or prune it, it will slow down the growth rate.

So don't worry about akadama use what you got so long it is organic.  ;D
 

Owen Reich

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 888
  • Thanked: 7 times
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2012, 11:30 PM »
Thanks for the information.  That is similar to the mix some bonsai people use in America.  Many people in the U.S.A. (and Japan) feel that using products with high porosity and quick drainage is a more ideal mix.  Climate plays a big role.  Having used a mix similar to that when I first got into bonsai, I have found it to encourage longer and less fine roots, thicker terminal shoots, etc.  It is easier to maintain moisture for some species though. 
 

bigDave

  • Jr. Forum Member
  • **
  • Posts: 82
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2012, 07:39 PM »
  It would be nice to have something produced in the States without all the hassle.

there is a business idea there I think,

Someone young and strong...

and no college, oh and not against hard work and dirt.

hmmmmm
Do we have anyone like that left in America ?

 ;D
 

Sulaiman

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2012, 03:45 AM »
Using stone/gravel that is sharp will assist with splitting of roots and making it more fibrous. Also cut the roots that does not have lots  fibrous or cut it back same like you will do to a branch if internodes is to long. 8)
 

BoneSci

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2012, 12:59 PM »
Hi Owen (and all),

Just wondering why Turface doesn't seem to be a suitable substitute in the discussion so far. After reading Peter Tea's most recent blog post (awesome btw), it seems akadama is the component with the highest water retention and it seems to me Turface would be a nice replacement - with the only drawback that the particle sizes available are to small. Is this the only reason or is there something else about it that brings the need for a better substitute for akadama?

Chris
 

Judy

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 631
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2012, 06:01 PM »
Yeah, if we could only convince the turface people to make a larger particle!

 I think that this is the problem most folks have with it, but it also doesn't warm up as fast, hold heat longer, and basically stabilize the temperature in the root zone as well as akadama, from what I've read... (I do currently use turface/bark 80/20)  But I have this year gotten a mix from Bonsai Den that is haydite, coarse river sand, orchid bark, and charcoal.  I'm trying the non bark mix on my pines, and the bark mix on some deciduous... So far so good.  I like the larger particle size, and it looks nice too.  Drainage seems great, I think it holds a bit less water than turface... So maybe I could mix a bit in.
 

Yenling83

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 321
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2012, 06:35 PM »
Thanks for the information.  That is similar to the mix some bonsai people use in America.  Many people in the U.S.A. (and Japan) feel that using products with high porosity and quick drainage is a more ideal mix.  Climate plays a big role.  Having used a mix similar to that when I first got into bonsai, I have found it to encourage longer and less fine roots, thicker terminal shoots, etc.  It is easier to maintain moisture for some species though. 

Owen what mix or mixes do you use at the nursery you are apprenticing at?
 

Owen Reich

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 888
  • Thanked: 7 times
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2012, 07:24 PM »
I didn't bring up Turface because I'm looking for more new or at least not popular on a National scale products.  I've used Turface and Primera one for years in America.  I gradually used more and more of those products and less organic matter in my mixes over the years.  I used a ton of granite grit a few years ago as it was free.  Peter's recent blog post was very good and well put.  I feel the same.  I had to take a few soil science courses in the past and I was training bonsai at the time. My professor said "I support the idea of a drainage layer and think replication of the soil structure common for a given species in scale with the tree size would be ideal".

At Kouka-en we use Aoki Blend.  It is similar to what people call "Boon's Mix" from what i can tell.  It's a mix of Kiryu, akadama, and suna (this last one comes in many sizes and sources); basically akadama, pumice, and some other sort of volcanic rock.  We buy various particle size mixes for Shohin, chuhin, Ogata.  There are separate conifer and deciduous / broadleaf evergreen mixes.  We also buy Aoki high fired large particle and x-tra large particle for drainage layer.  We use Kanuma for satsuki and occasionally a pinch of softer akadama for trees that dry out super fast. 
 

Elliott

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 146
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2012, 07:18 PM »
the most important thing about akadama is the cation exchange. it holds the decaying ions released by organic fertilzer and the tree roots can "eat at will" without a cation exchange product in the soil, its like Ryan Neil says, "its like throwing a bunch of playing cards in the air and trying to catch them as they fall" in other words, with just lava and pumice, etc, the fertilizer ions just pass through with the water.
 Organic materials like fir bark, etc have a high cation exchange, but most of us don't want to use organics in our soil mix.
 the perfect replacement for akadama would be inorganic, doesn't break down, and holds moisture. some people are saying diatamaceous earth (or however you spell it) or possibly kitty litter or the calidama.
 the perfect substitute is probably all around us, readily available and "dirt cheap" ::), we just don't have an easy way to check cation exchange without a laboratory.
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2012, 06:08 PM »
Well not exactly...


While clay in general has the ability to hold nutrients akadama has a poor coeffecient. Its CEC is rather low as compared to other soil products. What akadama does well is work in conjunction with organic based fetilizers. The humates in the organic fertilizer help to change the ionic composition of the clay and allow it to hold on to the fertilzer ions.

Using akadama with chemical fertlizers would be more akin to Ryan's analogy.

Akadama on its own is really nothing and does nothing better than a hundred other soils would do. Introducing organic fertilizer or the additions of humates such as leonardite complete this complex exchange. This would be a lot of the reason sections of the country give akadama such a bad rap and say its not worth the money becuase either they do not use humates nor use organic fertilizers. In that case akadama really is not worth the money.

I prefer it because I fertilize heavily with humates and organic fertilizers. With liberal additions of humates one can even make lava work like akadama. With lava having absolutly no CEC capability, the additions of humates can make lava hold on to fertilizer ions easily.

Also, additions like fir bark which may have a higer coeffecient do not add to the soil and some respects make it worse due the high absorption of nitrogen in the decay process. The last thing we want to do is add anything that absorbs nitrogen. But having organics in a soil mix is not necessarily a bad thing. It just has to be composted to the point it is releasing humates and not robbing nitrogen. This means it has to be past the point of rotton and now almost soil. It should smell good and smell like mushrooms. At that point there is nothing on earth as good as this black gold. It will clog a pot though and that brings up a whole new thread!

Later, Al
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 06:12 PM by akeppler »
 

Chrisl

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 897
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2012, 12:12 PM »
Great information Al!  May I ask how you introduce Humates into your organic fertilizing? 
 

Dave G

  • Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2012, 12:32 PM »
Thanks Al, that was very interesting, and lead to quite long time on the web trying to learn more about humates.
There seems to be quite a few products out there, and while I do believe there are definite benefits there seems to be a lot of snake oil people out there too (especially with human consumption side)
Can I assume that your picture with the gro power bag would be an endorsement of that product?
 
 

Alain Bertrand

  • Jr. Forum Member
  • **
  • Posts: 67
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #27 on: May 21, 2012, 01:54 PM »
If one fertilize at each watering by using osmocote like fert, pellet organic fert or liquid fert (the latter being a little bit cumbersome if you don't use an injector), the CEC of the substrate, or any added capability to hold nutrients is of none or little value.
 

Tim Gardner

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #28 on: May 26, 2012, 03:06 PM »
To all that have commented to this post, there is red clay all over the south. Aka dama means red clay balls. The question is how do we pellatize it?  The two needle pines that grow wild here are very similar to jbp, and they are growing in nothing but clay.  :-\
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: Akadama Substitutes
« Reply #29 on: May 26, 2012, 04:27 PM »
To all that have commented to this post, there is red clay all over the south. Aka dama means red clay balls. The question is how do we pellatize it?  The two needle pines that grow wild here are very similar to jbp, and they are growing in nothing but clay.  :-\

There is clay virtually everywhere on earth. Clay is just sand that has been ground to powder. Anyplace there is erosion clay will be present in vast quantities. In America, gathering clay, drying it, crushing it and sorting it to a certain size, meeting EPA regulations for dust control, bagging and shipping should make it around $105.72 a bag give or take a few cents.

Is that where we want to go with dirt for bonsai?

The best one can do is find whats readily available in your local area and adapt that the best you can to your watering habits and species grown. Anything cheap and available in America is going to come via a byproduct of something else. This mocha lava I am sure is used in the trade for making concrete blocks. We have a huge block making plant about 20 miles from where I live and they get truckloads of haydite from a plant on the grapevine (Mountains between LA and the central valley) in Gorman. I called, they will fill a pickup for like 30.00 but I have to remember what the name of the place is.