Author Topic: Soil Adjustments  (Read 1935 times)

BoneSci

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Soil Adjustments
« on: February 03, 2013, 10:32 AM »
Hi All,

Apologies for bringing up yet another soil question, but I have been debating exactly how to adjust my soil this year and thought it would be helpful to ask. I have been using as close to Boon's mix as I can get here in eastern PA - Lava, Akadama and granite (2/2/1) for my standard mix and added Drystall Pumice for smaller trees that use a smaller size mix.

However, I started a new job in July that now has me commuting 1.5 hours each way. I found that this mix was not suitable with this schedule - the pots were too dry when I get home. I am wondering which of the following changes (or combination thereof) would be most effective for increasing the water retention:

1) Add additional akadama or turface to the mix
2) Switch to a slightly smaller particle size
3) Simply use long-fibered sphagnum moss on top of the soil

I should note that the vast majority of my tree are deciduous. Thanks very much!

Chris
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2013, 05:25 PM »
All of those could help.

I opted for an automatic watering system:

http://www.dripworks.com/category/heart-of-the-garden-kit
 

BoneSci

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2013, 08:08 PM »
Thanks Matsu. I thought about that also but have very hard water that I think would negatively affect such a system (need to research it more). I end up with scale on my pots, soil surface, etc. pretty quickly with my well water, so I currently water almost exclusively with collected rainwater.
 

Adair M

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2013, 08:33 PM »
Could you put a little pump in the barrel of rain water and run a drip system to your trees on a timer?
 

Yenling83

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2013, 10:31 AM »
All of those could work, however with option #1  I'd add more akadama instead of turface.  My experience is that turface seems to dry out faster.  I would not recommend option #2 for larger size trees or trees where the goal is maximum amount of growth.   I think you will see the most benefit out of option #3, adding chopped New Zealand sphagnum moss.  Here's a great article that Owen Reich wrote about it:

http://yamadoriforsale.com/2012/12/08/mizu-goke-and-the-benefits-to-bonsai-by-owen-reich/
 

BoneSci

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2013, 07:13 PM »
Thank you for your comments Adair and Yenling. I was leaning towards trying the sphagnum moss but did not know how effective it could be. That article was convincing enough to give it a try, especially for the trees I repotted into Boon's mix last year (which was most of them, I don't have all that many).

Interesting the azaleas repotted with kanuma didn't seem to dry out as fast as the mix with Akadama....

Thanks again,

Chris
 

Adair M

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2013, 11:00 PM »
Bone, I have one azalea.  It's potted in pure kanuma.  It loves it.  Owen Reich said that was the way to go, too.
 

bwaynef

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2013, 11:56 PM »
Bone, I have one azalea.  It's potted in pure kanuma.  It loves it.

Tell me how it likes it 2-3 years from now.
 

Adair M

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 12:10 AM »
Ok.  It's been in it for a year.
 

BoneSci

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 07:18 AM »
My azaleas have only been in kanuma for a year also. So far they love it and never looked better. I substituted kanuma for akadma in boon's mix. It is much softer and easy to break with your fingers and I am worried about freeze-thaw cycles here breaking it down (same for the akadama but more so for the softer kanuma). We will see as I also potted up some 4 year old cuttting in the same stuff to see how it will last.

Chris
 

bwaynef

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 08:42 AM »
Ok.  It's been in it for a year.

To be clear, my previous comment didn't have the intonation of a dare.  I sincerely want to see how well it does in a climate that's as close to mine as I can imagine.
 

John Kirby

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Re: Soil Adjustments
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 04:40 PM »
In Arkansas I always cut the Kanuma with hyuga, part of the reason for cutting it was the way we watered using an automated system for daily watering. You can get away with pure Kanuma if you let the trees dry out between waterings.

In Pennsylvania, good bonsai folks have been using Kanuma for decades. You have to repot your trees on a cycle, that allows you to keep the soil refreshed over time.