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Author Topic: Fired Clay in Northern California?  (Read 1196 times)
sherwob
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« on: February 16, 2013, 07:49 PM »

I live in Sacramento.  Does anyone know where I can find some fired clay.  I am going to be doing a lot of larger boxes and Akadama is just too expensive.  I can't seem to find any local turface, clay kitty litter, etc. 
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akeppler
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2013, 08:10 PM »

Maruyama Bonsai Nursery, ask for mocha lava. Bring some buckets....$5.00 a bucket.


6361 Belleau Wood Ln
Sacramento, CA 95822
(916) 421-6888

Hours:
Mon-Sat 8:30 am - 12:30 pm
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PaulH
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2013, 11:03 AM »

You can get Turface at Ewing Irrigation, 3267 Monier Cir  Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
(916) 635-7850. Make sure you get the larger particle size, (Turface MVP).
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Don Dunn
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2013, 09:56 PM »

Has any one tried pigeon grit? What I found is about 50% hard clay, suppose to be like Akadama, It's kind of a red color. it has probably about 30% clam shell, maybe 5% charcoal and some unidentified other grit.  the size is about 3/32" - 1/8" with some of the shell a little larger. It was only 35 cents a pound at the feed store. I put some in a cup of water for a few days to see if it would soften up but it stayed solid.  I know that may be kind of small for some trees but darn!  it's cheap. I looked up the clam shell to see how it breaks down and from what I gather it does not give off to much calcium to the soil. There are suppose to be some other vitamins added for the health of pigions but I do not know what those would be or in what potency it would have been added. For that price I would doubt it has very much of any added nutrient's.
What could be the down side of using this for Bonsai ?
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sherwob
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2013, 04:36 AM »

Thanks for the replies.  I actually just got the "mocha lava" from Maruyama's last week.  I didn't think that the lava was the same as a fired clay product.  What is the difference or similarity of small particle lava and fired clay?
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pwk5017
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2013, 12:34 PM »

I am guessing Cation Exchange Capacity would be one difference between the two.  Clay has a high CEC and so does organic matter.  I would imagine lava has a low CEC.  To not get too technical, this has to do with the particles ability to take in and give out fertilizer to the plant. Lava is beneficial to a soil because it has a high surface area(very craggy surface).  All those pockets hold the right amoutn moisture for the plant's roots.  Lava particles are also able to be penetrated by plant roots, so the root colonizes each partcle of lava rock to a certain extent.  I have never seen this with using fired clay.  The particles are extremely hard.
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Don Dunn
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2013, 12:16 AM »

 Here is a picture of the pigeon grit I am going try on a couple of trees. I will have to sift it down. Ryan Neil says they always used 1/16 to 1/8 for interior and 1/4  to 1/2 for drainage.
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Jay
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 06:45 AM »

I have a question.... Are you trees worth the risk of using an unknown product as your soil? 

To me, soil is one of the least costly elements of Bonsai. Sure if you are doing lots of trees, especially big trees, it can add up.... But what is the cost of replacement for just one tree that may be negatively effected by bad soil?  Or, what if you don't kill anything but just get poor growth for a year?

I do use Turface  but only with young developing trees..... My better trees live in a standard Bonsai mix. And no, I'm not a pro or even an expert. I've said before I consider myself an advance novice.

So.... Is it worth saving $20 or even $100 dollars and possibly killing a tree worth far more?

Just a thought
Jay
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John Kirby
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2013, 08:30 AM »

Oyster shell is a great source for calcium carbonate. Female birds that are laying eggs need a lot of it to replace the medullary bone that they use up to make egg shells. The nice thing about calcium carbonate is that when you acidify the soil using fertilizer (remember all those ions going back and forth) you will dissolve the calcium carbonate and it will leach through your nice clay pots and give them a nice white chalky patina. Will do the same thing around the drain holes on plastic pots. Not sure how trees will do at pH9 or so.

$.35 per lb is the same as $700 a ton. This price is significantly higher than purchasing agricultural pumice or volcanic scoria (1/4 inch lava).
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Leo in NE Illinois
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2013, 03:25 PM »

Pigeon grit available in the midwest, between Chicago and Milwaukee, is a nice dark red granite, with some oystershell and some senna added for an odor attractive to the pigeons so they will peck and scratch. The oyster shell won't raise the pH a lot, probably not as high a pH 9, but it will raise the pH above 8. Relatively few trees prefer alkaline soils, though many will tolerate alkaline soils. Most trees that are listed as coming from Karst areas have some tolerance of limestone. Certain species of desert habitat juniper prefer an alkaline reaction, while the majority of junipers, including Shimpaku would prefer a mildly acidic to neutral pH, in the 6.5 to 7.0 range. Some trees will simply die in soils containing lime and or oystershell, azaleas, blueberries, andromeda, Kalmia and other bog habitat dwelling trees.

So because of the oyster shell is definitely not to the liking of some trees, lethal even, and the majority of trees are helped by oyster shell, they may be indifferent at best to it. I would not use pigeon grit for any trees unless I knew that particular species required an alkaline soil to do well.

My 2 cents.
So like John Kirby, it is not something I would be likely to use on any of my bonsai.
By the way, because certain orchids I grow are obligate calciphyles I do keep crushed oystershell on hand. It just does not get used on my trees. Only the orchids and a couple cacti.
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Don Dunn
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2013, 04:05 PM »

Thank you  both, Noted and and appreciated.
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