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General Category => General Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: akeppler on April 14, 2012, 12:19 AM

Title: Boon Mix?
Post by: akeppler on April 14, 2012, 12:19 AM
These juicy debate threads seem to take on a life of their own.  Since I am not a SOB, probably will never be an SOB, that allows me to poke fun.

While it is true that Fresno California may not be known as a "the hotbed of bonsai" nationaly, the central valley does have many credible bonsai artists.  I started bonsai in 1984. In that first year I was introduced to inorganic soil mix. Akadama, pumice and lava.

Just exactly what year did this concoction become known as Boon Mix?

I been usuing it since 1984, Ray Thieme showed it to me and he's been usin it since 1964. Why are we not callin it Ray mix?

Did bonsai not exist before Boon?

I may have his Japan papers around here somewhere, I think I signed them, that would be a hoot to see. I'll look for them.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: nathanbs on April 14, 2012, 11:36 AM
To no real defense of Boon or any SOB, I think he/they are just the ones really driving this mix home and not accepting alternatives.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: John Kirby on April 14, 2012, 06:53 PM
All was this before or after they nailed you to the cross?

The Japanese have been using it for decades, so it probably predates Fresno, the center of the Bonsai Universe. I believe that people started calling it Boon's mix when he started using it on others trees. I am pretty sure it was not Boon, maybe Morten.

Nathan, I am sure that there are other mixes that will work fine- straight pumice, strait lava, Calidama, whatever. The point is consistency. Oh, by the way I do use other mixes. Kanuma and pumice for Satsukis and perlite for starting cuttings. My non use of the other stuff available to me is not because I blindly jumped in to using Boon's mix- I used to get tiurface by the Ton (pallet loads), haydite and Bark by the dump truck load. I switched to Boon's mix about 7 years ago because it works unbelievably better. Not necessarily the only thing that works. Get the Turface folks to get us 3/16-1/2 inch screened material and I will be happy to try it again- maybe.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: yamins on April 14, 2012, 07:50 PM
John -- When you say it "works unbelievably better", can you say more about what that means?  In what ways does it work better?  What the key factors you use in judging whether a soil mix is good?   Thanks! 

-- I should add, presumably "better" is relative to various things, but can you speak in particular to the good qualities of this mix relative to the one other you mentioned, Turface, which is what I've been using (screen tediously to 1/8") since I have easy access to it.   



  
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: kcpoole on April 14, 2012, 08:49 PM
John - I note that you mentioned using Kanuma and Pumice for a Azaleas, I am using 100% Kanuma here with great results

1/ what benefit do you see adding Pumice to it?

2/ What ratios of each do you use ?

TIA Ken
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: akeppler on April 14, 2012, 09:51 PM
All was this before or after they nailed you to the cross?

The Japanese have been using it for decades, so it probably predates Fresno, the center of the Bonsai Universe. I believe that people started calling it Boon's mix when he started using it on others trees. I am pretty sure it was not Boon, maybe Morten.

 

uhhh...no cross yet. I do not frequent this board...so being known in bonsai circles as the social sledgehammer, I felt it was time for a little spice, you know get the juices flowing and things like that. What better way to do that then poke fun at Boon on a Boon adoration board.

Boon mix, masakuni sprayers....next someone will tell me I can improve my bonsai with an Ichiban!

Don't count Fresno out just yet...we have some pretty good artists here dedicated to formal bonsai display.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: John Kirby on April 14, 2012, 09:52 PM
Yamins,
Predicatable growth, fewer thrown branches on Junipers (those tht die for no apparent reason. Really good roots and strong trees, and i can't remember the last tree with bad roots. This works for me particularly well as I use Auto watering once it warms, thus the trees get watered everyday. The extra drainage is excellent, and excpt for the very, very hottest windy days in Arkansas (on the OKie Border) only one watering a day. I have tried Haydite Mixes (Brussels), Turface Mixes and all of the calcined clay substitutes (the Kitty litters, etc). I have rescued JBP from the Warren Hill Peat and Sand Mix, from ust about anything. If people ask I tell them to use Akadama-Pumice and Volcanic scoria, with a little Charcoal and decomposed grantite. I also have been know to tell people to please don't waste the Akadama if you aren't sure or are a sceptic I personally don't care what people use, as long as thye don't ask for help that includes fixing the roots. Anyway, it's only soil. I figure if I am going to stick a tree with the comma in the price in to a potting mix, I am not going to try and save $1 on a pots worth of soil

Scott, I water every day, the pumice give us less water retention than the straight Kanuma. I have been using a 50:50 mix, others might vary it.

Al, if you actually knew him you would understand why people really like him. But, I say the same thing about you, usually under my breath and looking over my shoulder....
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: FrankP999 on April 15, 2012, 08:42 AM
Al, What is the word on availability of akadama in your neck of the woods? I live near the Monastery Bonsai folks here in Georgia. They have this on their web site :

A note about akadama:
     The Double Line Brand company went out of business in early 2011. We have a new supplier who shipped 18 liter bags of akadama of the same hardness as the Double Line Brand.
     The USDA has stopped a shipment of akadama from entering the country. Until this situation is resolved, akadama supplies will be tight and prices will be steady.


I wonder about how the tsunami and nuclear reactor affected the akadama supply.

I started with "Boon's Mix" last year and so far so good.

Frank
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: bwaynef on April 16, 2012, 09:24 AM
Just exactly what year did this concoction become known as Boon Mix?
...
Did bonsai not exist before Boon?

Not an SoB here either, and I likely won't be for the foreseeable future.  I seem to recall @ BonsaiTalk that it was initially referred to by his students as Boon's Mix and was shortened after that to Boon Mix.  I also recall a couple of instances of Boon pointing out that the mix wasn't some grand revelation he'd had, but what he was familiar with in Japan and others (particularly in Ca) had been using it.

The etymology of the term really follows a pattern of simplifying and becoming more concise as familiarity increased, ...at least on bonsai forums.  Its also a lot simpler to say Boon Mix, than spell out Lava, akadama, and pumice.

Welcome (back) to the board, sledge.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: cbobgo on April 16, 2012, 07:58 PM
So, on a side issue, if I can hijak this thread a little: why include lava AND pumice in the mix?  What is significantly different, horticulturally, between lava and pumice that you would need both?  I did some research when this topic came up awhile ago ( http://bonsaistudygroup.com/ponderosa-pine-discussion/large-particle-pumice-for-new-ponderosa/ (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/ponderosa-pine-discussion/large-particle-pumice-for-new-ponderosa/) )  and could find only minor differences geologically, and could find no good info on horticultural differences.

So those of you like Al who have been using this mix for a long time - why include both?  How would Boon mix compare to a mix with just lava and akadama, or just pumice and akadama?

- bob
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: John Kirby on April 16, 2012, 11:54 PM
Bob, I have had this same conversation with Mike Hagedorn a few years back. His point was as you point out- keep it simple. Maybe.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: davestree on April 17, 2012, 09:39 AM
I have a hard time getting lava where I am at, so my version is screened turface, pumice, and akadama.  Works great, but I wonder if lava is better.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: PaulH on April 17, 2012, 09:59 AM
In our last study group with Ryan Neil last month we spent quite a while discussing soil ingredients. Ryan states that the function of pumice is to be the primary water holding ingredient as it is very microscopically porous and stable. The function of the lava is to provide oxygen access into the soil. I think it also helps maintain the structure of the soil, keeping the akadama from breaking down to mush. The akadama is most important for its cation exchange capacity, binding nutrient ions in the soil.  Being a clay, akadama is highly charged in soil. Organic ingredients can also increase cation exchange capacity but have other negative properties.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: nathanbs on April 17, 2012, 10:05 AM
To add to what Paul said. Just because a soil particle is porous does not mean the pores are big enough to allow the roots to freely detach the water molecules, nor too large(lava) to even truly absorb water, rather water just sits on the lava particles surface. Pumice offers very little air to the roots, whereas lava offers very little water in comparison.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: cbobgo on April 17, 2012, 02:18 PM
Nathan or Paul, is any of that based on actual science?  Because all my trees are growing in just lava and bark, and they don't seem to have any trouble with oxygen or water.  I've got a black pine that I am growing out, and it has candles that are about 8 inches long already.  Growing like gangbusters without a piece of akadama or pumice in site.

- bob
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: nathanbs on April 17, 2012, 03:39 PM
its absolutely based on science but that's not to say that you cant grow a tree in pure sawdust and it wont survive.  The goal here is to find the soil that creates the best or shall i say the most optimum conditions to grow a tree that does not only appear to be healthy but is actually resistant to disease, hot spikes, cold spikes, etc.  Our trees aren't always as happy and healthy as we think they are. They may be one hot day away from dying.  To support your claim Roy Nagotoshi(very well known bonsai artist) grows entirely in lava and redwood mulch.  He has surrendered to adding akadama in a 1:1 ratio for his black pines.  It has a lot to do with your watering habits more so than your soil ingredients. However there are soil mixes such as the "boon Mix" that are overall more forgiving when it comes to watering and hot/cold conditions. Key word "more". Look at all of the nurseries growing in dirt, however the pots are taller which subjects the moisture to greater gravity than a shallow bonsai pot.  Bottom line, a mix such as lava, pumice, akadama, will yield better results across the board more than just straight lava.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: cbobgo on April 17, 2012, 04:37 PM
Nathan I agree that you can grow in anything, if you know what you are doing.  But my question is what is the scientific evidence that lava and pumice behave in such vastly different ways at the microscopic level?  I did some pretty exhaustive searches on the topic, and found nothing like what you said in your previous post.  Are there papers published somewhere?  Is there an experiment comparing them, or is this just people's personal experience?

- bob


Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: coh on April 17, 2012, 05:54 PM
To add to what Paul said. Just because a soil particle is porous does not mean the pores are big enough to allow the roots to freely detach the water molecules, nor too large(lava) to even truly absorb water, rather water just sits on the lava particles surface. Pumice offers very little air to the roots, whereas lava offers very little water in comparison.

The underlined statement (in particular) struck me as interesting, especially since many collected trees (such as those available at Nature's Way Nursery in Pennsylvania) are potted in 100% pumice, which supposedly encourages "tremendous" (quoting others) root growth. I have a collected engelmann spruce from Nature's Way, it is in 100% pumice and I was basically advised (by Jim Doyle and Walter Pall) to water everyday, that it (almost) cannot be over-watered. So pumice alone must provide some pretty good aeration!

Note this is the only tree I have that is potted in 100% pumice, so my sample size is rather small. At first I thought it was holding too much water so I cut back on watering - but the tree started to suffer (browning and dropped needles).  When I increased the watering it recovered and produced strong root growth (evident through the drain holes).

Chris
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: nathanbs on April 18, 2012, 09:54 AM
Nathan I agree that you can grow in anything, if you know what you are doing.  But my question is what is the scientific evidence that lava and pumice behave in such vastly different ways at the microscopic level?  I did some pretty exhaustive searches on the topic, and found nothing like what you said in your previous post.  Are there papers published somewhere?  Is there an experiment comparing them, or is this just people's personal experience?

- bob



Scientific Experiments(read, just doing it and seeing dramatic differences) :)
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: nathanbs on April 18, 2012, 09:59 AM
To add to what Paul said. Just because a soil particle is porous does not mean the pores are big enough to allow the roots to freely detach the water molecules, nor too large(lava) to even truly absorb water, rather water just sits on the lava particles surface. Pumice offers very little air to the roots, whereas lava offers very little water in comparison.

The underlined statement (in particular) struck me as interesting, especially since many collected trees (such as those available at Nature's Way Nursery in Pennsylvania) are potted in 100% pumice, which supposedly encourages "tremendous" (quoting others) root growth. I have a collected engelmann spruce from Nature's Way, it is in 100% pumice and I was basically advised (by Jim Doyle and Walter Pall) to water everyday, that it (almost) cannot be over-watered. So pumice alone must provide some pretty good aeration!

Note this is the only tree I have that is potted in 100% pumice, so my sample size is rather small. At first I thought it was holding too much water so I cut back on watering - but the tree started to suffer (browning and dropped needles).  When I increased the watering it recovered and produced strong root growth (evident through the drain holes).

Chris

I think it is a very good point you are making but i think what it boils down to is that there is obviously gaps in between your pumice particles that is your air. The fact that you have to water it often is a good indication that water freely leaves pumice, whereas lava stays wet forever because the pores are so large the water gets trapped. Now where i am thoroughly confused is how does lava provide air if its pores are filled with water? Fill a pot with lava, water it and see how long it stays wet for. Would be terrible to promote roots.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: cbobgo on April 18, 2012, 01:05 PM
nathan, with lava its the space between the particles that lets the air in, same as with pumice (or any soil ingredient, for that matter).  As I said I grow in lava and bark, and my trees do not stay wet all the time.  During the summer I have to water every day, when it's hot sometimes twice a day.  The lava drains just fine. 

I did some more reading on actual science, not anecdotal experience, and I did find a few comparisons.  Obviously these are not studies involving bonsai trees, but I think the information is useful nonetheless.

Here's a textbook chapter where they put pumice and lava (which they call tuff) in the same category of soil amendments, making no difference between the 2 horticulturally.
http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/NurseryManuals/Research/Substrate.pdf (http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/NurseryManuals/Research/Substrate.pdf)

Here's a study comparing lava (again called tuff) to 2 different types of pumice in growing roses.  The lava had a higher hydraulic conductivity - meaning it was easier to get water through it, and also had higher growth rates than the pumice.
http://journal.ashspublications.org/content/124/2/205.full.pdf (http://journal.ashspublications.org/content/124/2/205.full.pdf)

- bob

Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: cbobgo on April 18, 2012, 02:57 PM
Here's another study on adding pumice to a bark based soil mix.  Conclusion was adding pumice decreased total porosity, container capacity, available water, and water-buffering capacity.

http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/32337/1/IND44225834.pdf (http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/32337/1/IND44225834.pdf)


In this next one, they compared pumice to lava, which they called scoria.  Water filled porosity (the ammount of water remaining in the media after letting the water drain out) was only different by 5%. Air filled porosity (the amount of air in the mix) was different by only 0.4%.  Fruit yield was higher in the lava.

http://www.nftgroup.co.nz/site/hydrotech/files/Articles/ScoriaCucumberReport.pdf (http://www.nftgroup.co.nz/site/hydrotech/files/Articles/ScoriaCucumberReport.pdf)

So to sum up the science I've found, the differences are very small, if any.  And lava may actually perform better.  So I suppose in an established tree, if you were wanting to slow down growth, there might be some evidence to suggest adding pumice might be a benefit.  But I've found nothing to suggest adding pumice improves growth in any way over lava.

- bob
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: Alain Bertrand on April 18, 2012, 06:41 PM

Quote
http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/32337/1/IND44225834.pdf

This study is not relevant to our problem because pumice is never added above 30% though we use in substrates that are almost or completely granular with each component roughly of the same size. The result presented in the study just illustrates one well known result, that is mixing components of different size is usually bad for physical properties.

Quote
http://www.nftgroup.co.nz/site/hydrotech/files/Articles/ScoriaCucumberReport.pdf (http://www.nftgroup.co.nz/site/hydrotech/files/Articles/ScoriaCucumberReport.pdf)
I have done my own porosity measures and they  are in fact consistent with the data you found out. Also in a French book dedicated to nursery practices, the same kind of results where presented.
I have trees in both and I don't see any differences.
I like lava rock for small pots because it is heavy, and pumice for large pots because it is light ;).
Additionally, pumice doesn't damage cutting instruments as badly as lava rock does and most important factor, I could get my hands on a one cubic meter of pumice of adequate size for 150 € though I could not for lava rock.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: cbobgo on April 19, 2012, 08:25 PM
Thanks for your input Alain.

Here's Brent's (from evergreengardenworks.com) comment on the topic:

"Personally, I don't think soil makes any difference at all as long as the structure is right (size and shape, porosity) and you water and fertilize properly."

- bob

Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: Chrisl on April 20, 2012, 10:54 AM
To add to what Paul said. Just because a soil particle is porous does not mean the pores are big enough to allow the roots to freely detach the water molecules, nor too large(lava) to even truly absorb water, rather water just sits on the lava particles surface. Pumice offers very little air to the roots, whereas lava offers very little water in comparison.

The underlined statement (in particular) struck me as interesting, especially since many collected trees (such as those available at Nature's Way Nursery in Pennsylvania) are potted in 100% pumice, which supposedly encourages "tremendous" (quoting others) root growth. I have a collected engelmann spruce from Nature's Way, it is in 100% pumice and I was basically advised (by Jim Doyle and Walter Pall) to water everyday, that it (almost) cannot be over-watered. So pumice alone must provide some pretty good aeration!

Note this is the only tree I have that is potted in 100% pumice, so my sample size is rather small. At first I thought it was holding too much water so I cut back on watering - but the tree started to suffer (browning and dropped needles).  When I increased the watering it recovered and produced strong root growth (evident through the drain holes).

Chris

Ditto here too Chris.  The two PP's I got from Jim is in !00% pumice and are doing great. 
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: gtuthill on April 20, 2012, 03:18 PM
Like most folks i have tried various combinations in mixes and have my own anecdotes. 

This potting season i will be moving to a "Boon like"  mix of turface, pumice and lava for trees to display and just pumice for all the stuff in training.

I can't get akadama and had to import my own turface.  pumice and lava however (we call it scoria here too)  are very and readily available.

I like the lava because it adds weight to the pot more so than pumice or turface. 

I also like the colour to be more earth like than just pumice. 

Anyone else think soil colour is important in this art?  I've never heard it mentioned.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: Jason E on April 20, 2012, 11:32 PM
I used clay king on a few trees that I repotted this year and it looks really nice, natural earth tones. but pricy.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: edro on April 26, 2012, 08:01 PM
I like the lava because it adds weight to the pot more so than pumice or turface. 

I also like the colour to be more earth like than just pumice. 

Anyone else think soil colour is important in this art?  I've never heard it mentioned.
Yes, I think it is very important.

I cannot stand soil with white particles. Chicken grit and pumice are pure white.

I stick with turface, haydite, pine bark, lava, etc. It has to be Earthy or I won't use it.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: John Kirby on April 26, 2012, 10:29 PM
If you don't like the white of pumice, and don't want to try a tan pumice like Hyuga, then top dress with your soil mix without pumice.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: jtucker on April 26, 2012, 11:35 PM
So there's reddish skoria and black skoria, a lot of times here in Southern California we have a mix of the two which comes out somewhat brownish. I like that for top dressing. However, for many of our bonsai species, doesn't straight black or straight red top dressing look just as "unnatural" as the white of pumice or grit?

Or maybe it's possible that bonsai folks generally darker top dressing because it provides contrast with often lighter bark of our trees, so that the nebari stands out better? After all, how many species have super dark bark that would blend in and get lost in a dark top dressing? Brown or tan-ish seems to be a good compromise, no?
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: nathanbs on April 27, 2012, 12:27 AM
Thanks for your input Alain.

Here's Brent's (from evergreengardenworks.com) comment on the topic:

"Personally, I don't think soil makes any difference at all as long as the structure is right (size and shape, porosity) and you water and fertilize properly."

- bob



Im more confused than when the thread started however i think this quote is the bottom line.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: John Kirby on April 27, 2012, 07:50 AM
Jtucker, try a mix of Akadama and scoria, or for your top layer, make a mix that includes Hyuga in lieu of the white pumice we tend to get in the us.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: bigDave on May 14, 2012, 07:46 PM

  Brown or tan-ish seems to be a good compromise, no?

Absolutely,   Dark says rich soil to me, light or white says salt flat,   I am all for rich

 ::)
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: Evelgest on July 02, 2016, 09:40 PM
To bring this thread back on topic, Boon's recipe which is 1 part akadama, 1 part pumice, 1 part lava, a splash of crushed granite and horticultural charcoal. The crushed granite and horticultural charcoal are what makes it Boon's Mix, not just your standard three ingredients.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: M. Frary on July 10, 2016, 08:02 AM
  Take the cacadama out put in DE and you got Frary mix. Something that won't ever turn to mush in the pot.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: SHIMA1 on July 15, 2016, 04:01 AM
If you don't like the white of pumice, and don't want to try a tan pumice like Hyuga, then top dress with your soil mix without pumice.
Or dress with milled sphagnum colored with brown cement dye. Works better for me than india ink.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: SHIMA1 on July 15, 2016, 04:07 AM
Like most folks i have tried various combinations in mixes and have my own anecdotes. 

This potting season i will be moving to a "Boon like"  mix of turface, pumice and lava for trees to display and just pumice for all the stuff in training.

I can't get akadama and had to import my own turface.  pumice and lava however (we call it scoria here too)  are very and readily available.

I like the lava because it adds weight to the pot more so than pumice or turface. 

I also like the colour to be more earth like than just pumice. 

Anyone else think soil colour is important in this art?  I've never heard it mentioned.
Sure...color is important, but the big problem with cinder (lava) is that black is a heat sink and roots get cooked much faster under any part of the lava that isn't covered with something to insulate. I lost some good trees on hot days even though the temps are never over 80F.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: John Kirby on August 07, 2016, 09:18 AM
Use red or brown lava.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: SHIMA1 on August 13, 2016, 01:04 AM
No brown here and red is inferior.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: M. Frary on August 14, 2016, 06:51 AM
  Then it looks like you're screwed.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: SHIMA1 on August 21, 2016, 02:00 AM
Getting used to it...
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: M. Frary on August 21, 2016, 08:55 AM
No brown here and red is inferior.
   I've never had the brown lava only  red. What is inferior about the red. It seems to work fine.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: coh on August 21, 2016, 03:24 PM
Yeah, red is the only color I've used. Maybe he doesn't like the color?  Can't think of any other reason it would be inferior...
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: bwaynef on August 22, 2016, 09:20 AM
I've had red and black.  Neither seemed to differ from the other.  Theoretically, the red might have more iron (but its likely not available to the plants) and the black might be a little hotter.  Practically, I've never noted any difference.
Title: Re: Boon Mix?
Post by: SHIMA1 on August 31, 2016, 05:27 PM
Depends on the source. What we get here from this volcano is less absorbent and breaks down faster.