Author Topic: Just a few thoughts - soil types or mixes as you prefer.  (Read 1191 times)


  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
Been reading some old organic Rodale and other folks stuff, from the 50's to the 80's.

We are very lucky on this small island [ say 30 x 50 mls - Jamaica, is twice our size with moutains at also twice our height 6000' or so - Nigel Parke, a telephone friend is a member here, he can verify.] to have deposits of hardened clay in the Central range, seems to be fused with Calcium, and Silica based gravel in the North East, as well as Limestone on the mountains, with heavy sticky clays over the rest of the island.

This allows us to grow cocoa on water retentive, freely draining soil in the Central range, Pines in the gravel/sand zones and also on the mountain ridges, with just about anything on the rich clay soils.

So in mimicing nature, we have adapted the gravel and hardened clay soils to our use. As well as the man made fired red brick [ we also have large deposits of naturally fired clay - the island is known for oil production and natural gas --- we are not much of a Tourist's resort.]

Testing our local Ficus priminoides [ spelling ? - see also Caracas/Venezuelan Bonsai clubs ] on just gravel with compost, the results have been excellent. Same the J.B.pines, as growing for health goes.
The hardened clay works well on Tamarinds, Fukien teas, Sagretia t. [ we know it as The Sparrow's Plum ] Gmelinas, The West Indian or Barbados cherry, Serissa, Olive, Indoor oak, Elms and the Punica g., known as the Minima.

The difference is in the watering, tests have shown that hose watering, even with a rose for gentle showers, is very wasteful, often to soak thoroughly requires way too many gallons and you can end up over wet or only halfway wetted soils.
On a small island in a zone of only 60 inches of rain for less than 6 months, and we have to get by on tanked water, it is also irresponsible.
So water is by a 1.5 gallon plastic can with a fine rose.

Since repotting is in the beginning of the dry season, the trees can grow into the new soil and master the soil before the rains come back. Additionally from Christmas to say February's end our trees sleep.
In fact we lost a tamarind from the seaside, because it was dormant until April [ hotter zone ] and couldn't figure why it faded.
This was later explained to K, by a grower in the Philippines.
Tamarinds here are from the Northern India zone, and will react to the cooler weather. Those from the seaside are more sensitive to cool air. Strange huh, our lowest ever was supposed to be 58 deg.F, but it can hold for over 18 hrs, with our highs also being on the low 80's for an hour or less.

Anyhow, the compost we make is a blend of yard stuff, leaves, bamboo for nitrogen, and weeds for much of everything else.
We also use a weak 1/3 strength lawn fertiliser during the dry months, helps to hold the green on the leaves.
After x years it works.

We thought about boosting the compost further with P amd K, but a look at the weeds, showed that it was not needed. Plus compost will hold a shot of weak Miracle-Gro when needed.

Observations, on the various air-pots in use, will be posted after Christmas. It was however interesting to note that the Dutch have been using the idea of the air-pot since 1910 or so. Wonder which soil scientist discovered that in the 1800's?
Thoughts on creating bonsai shaped pots, that have air-pot holes, to make maximum use of the compost, and maybe make the pie-shaped cuts easier ?

The marbles grow trees well and same for the Leca expanded pebbles with compost, as the organic component in both mixes.
The smooth acrylic coated pebbles from China [ aquariums ] also works well - all working on the ball bearing principle.

So the question was, if one uses an oil cake or meal [ compost ] or just a blend of vegetation - composted, and an inorganic, can one make a tree / shrub any healthier, sun exposure / air and so on taken into account.

On our side the more sun, the more leaves, but they are naturally finer / smaller, and in turn more twigging. We no longer need to defoliate, and so the trees keep their energy. We can defoliate, simply to regenerate the leaves, all at once, but this is done on say the Gmelina, once a year, a month after repotting.
Good Day

* We do not defoliate the Seagrape for finer leaves 1" or less or more branching, but it is too soon to pass on the incomplete information, just a teaser.