Author Topic: soil recipes  (Read 11713 times)

Chrisl

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2012, 01:01 PM »
I'd be using Boon's mix too if I could've found all the components.  I've only found 1/4" lava chunks, nothing smaller.  No pumice to be had here in the midwest either.  Too bad as I'd like to try it.
Chris
 

rockm

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2012, 02:44 PM »
"NZ white is NZ white, the issue is that longfibered green sphagnum has been known to carry fungii, that can cause health issues after long term exposure. "

If you're talking about sporotrichosis, the health risk is pretty minimal if you wear gloves when working wtih ANY moss. New Zealand moss can carry the fungus that causes the problem. It's not species-specific to certain kinds of moss. You can also get it from cats...

Sporotrichosis  is a fungal infection that enters the body mostly through cuts or abrasions. It CAN enter through the airway, but that's pretty rare.
 

John Kirby

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2012, 07:40 PM »
Mark, it is a washing and process difference. I use both, bales of it. The main proble is for folks who use it frequently.

John
 

nathanbs

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2012, 10:22 AM »
John,
How do you check soil dampness for watering when the surface is covered with moss? I typically dig a little into the soil to check for dampness.
 

John Kirby

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2012, 12:23 PM »
I don't. Once we start watering, we water everything, everyday. Good soil mix drains well, I really don't worry about over watering. John
 

nathanbs

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2012, 08:43 PM »
do you know if boon waters everyday of the year besides when it rains, and i suppose if the moss is still wet its pretty obvious not to water
 

Elliott

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2012, 07:14 AM »
Nathan, what Al said was to use new zealand Sphagnum as opposed to regular sphagnum. Doesn't matter what source its from. The new Zealand is much cleaner with less woody chunks. It also lives/ last longer but more importantly, it re hydrates as soon as you water it. The regular stuff has to to be watered a while before it absorbs the moisture. I think the fungus/spore thing is pretty minimal.
 To the guy who mentioned the clay products, yes, soils like akadama which is a natural clay product work by holding positive cations ( I'm sure I got this wrong and someone will correct me) which equals nutrients to the tree. Ryan Neal says when you water a fast draining soil, everything goes right thru and the roots don't' get a chance to absorb nutrients, its like someone throwing a bunch of money in the air and you can only keep what you catch. Most of it will fall on the floor. Soils like akadama let that money land on the table where you can reach it.
 So what I ended up doing with my soil situation is I bought a bunch of akadama in large and small size, hyuga in small and large size, and black scoria, I picked up some of that axis from Napa auto parts also.
 The large akadama has big, med and small pieces in it. The med akadama has med and small pieces. I'm going to separate all 3 sizes on the akadama,and hyuga. Im also gonna pick up some large size scoria. I'm going to keep everything separate in marked tubs and mix up individual batches for every tree. I will have the size particle I need as I have small, med, and large trees, plus I can add more akadama for the broad leaf's and more organic for tropicals.
 I had a long talk with a friend of mine who is studying soil at Cal poly San Luis Obispo, and he said having a uniform size soil particle is very important because smaller particles will compact between the bigger pieces and cause drainage and compaction problems. He also said having a large particle layer at the bottom was important.
 I thought all the sieving of the soils would be a pain in the ass, but its actually a little fun once you get on a roll!
 

Billkcmo

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2012, 07:23 AM »
I have a friend who didn't sift his haydite ir coarse sand.  He used a screw driver  to make small  holes in the bottom of the bag and ran the garden hose in the top and washed out the fine particles.  I don't sift my haydite as I use it straight for my pines, maybe some dime size chuncks of peat.  When i water the find particles are washed away. 
 

Owen Reich

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2012, 07:53 AM »
@nathanbs, I wrote an article in ABS Journal last year covering how to prepare and use "mizu goke" (chopped long-fibered sphagnum moss).  We use chopped moss at Kouka-en on the surface of a variety of trees with different water needs.  We do know the water needs of the species; I won't go into the aspects of tree size, time of year, etc. but will say it helps monitoring water needs.  We use Aoki Blend Akadama for everything as we have deciduous and evergreen blends utilizing a larger particle size for the base layer.   

The article may be available on the ABS website now, a friend may have a copy, or maybe you could just join  ;)
 

nathanbs

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2012, 10:03 AM »
@elliot, Al was saying the sphagnum at house of bonsai is chilean sphagnum?? and that it was no good. Dont remember why of coarse. Glad to see you are mixing your soils and having some fun while you are at it.
@Owen appreciate the added advice. I will join just to read your article ;) right back at you
 

John Kirby

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2012, 10:26 AM »
Boon sieves (through a soil screen) his and uses a very light layer on very specific trees after repotting. He waters at different intervals over the year, in the summer, every day- sometimes 2 or more times a day.

I guess, the funny about sphagnum moss is that people use what they like. Washed sphagnum (whether from NZ, Chile or Canada is washed sphagnum), is washed Sphagnum. You can buy Mountain Moss for use with Satsukis if you like, and those who do swear by it. I use long fibered on trees just collected or after having an initial major root reduction.  I have not seen a difference in rooting outcomes from the stuff you buy at Lowes or the stuff from House of Bonsai. If it is potentially an issue for you personally, buy NZ.
 

nathanbs

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2012, 07:53 PM »
I am oblivious to the differences except for color. I was just worried based on Al Nelson warning that what Vicky at House of Bonsai has is Chilean and not to use it, but i forget why. If the consensus is that sphagnum is sphagnum then great one less thing to worry about
 

Owen Reich

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2012, 10:59 PM »


Mizu Goke Article
     Upon my arrival to study in Japan, one of the first things I noticed about the bonsai here was that the surface of many of the trees were covered with chopped sphagnum moss.  My broken Japanese questions were answered with a smile, as mizu goke is an integral part of bonsai care here at Kouka-en and other nurseries in Japan.  Proper watering is the most important cultural practice for bonsai and any edge you can get should be considered for use.  Mizu goke means water moss, referring to the environment sphagnum moss natually grows in.  To avoid confusion, mizu goke will be referred to as "moss" and green, living moss as "live moss".  Live moss should not be left covering the soil surface of your bonsai indefinitely as it uses water, decreases the oxygen exchange for the bonsai's roots, and makes monitoring for dry bonsai more difficult.  It is best to apply live moss before exhibition or display in small chunks like a puzzle.  This keeps the air exchange rate higher than using large sheets.
     There are a myriad of benefits for the use of mizu goke.  The most common use is for newly repotted bonsai to stabilize the soil surface and evaluate root system health.  Sick bonsai due to weak roots can be better monitored as can newly collected yamadori.  Moisture sensitive trees and almost all shohin bonsai benefit a great deal as the hotter times of the year can be especially difficult to provide adequate moisture in a timely fashion.  Stewartia monadelpha a.k.a. Himeshara (meaning dwarf stewartia) thrives even in warmer climates as moss keeps the soil temperature lower; best recreating the cool, moist environment they natually grow in.  Trachelospurnum asiaticum var. 'Nana' a.k.a. Chiramen kazura (meaning handsome climber) is another species that hates to dry out completely.  All of the chiramen kazura and himeshara at Kouka-en are maintained year-round with moss covering the surface.  Another reason to adopt the use of moss is the uniform covering will decrease the incidence of new weeds and it's easier to spot new ones early for easy removal.  It will not unfortunately, not kill all the old ones.
     Mizu goke can be used for any species, but it will take some close observation the first time you apply for evaluation of your soil mix and local climate.  We don't use it for ancient Pinus parviflora or Shimpaku as the larger particle akadama used doesn't shift easily and water needs are well known.  
     Kouka-en uses blended Aoki akadama mixs for everything (a separate deciduous and evergreen mix) with a larger size of high fired akadama as a base to decrease the zone of saturation.  This is the area that stays wet between waterings in the bottom of the pot.  Satsuki azaleas are grown in Kanuma with a high fired akadama base.  Long fibered Australian peat moss is used here in Osaka for mizu goke, but Canadian long fiber peat moss will be readily available at garden centers or craft stores in America.  Just make sure it is a beige to brown color that isn't dyed.  Mizu goke is best prepared by soaking the dry moss in a container of boiling water and left to sit for three hours to fully saturate the dry moss.  Next, a large chopping knife is used to cut the moss into a fine particle size.  The smaller the size, the more uniform the application will be to the soil surface.  After mincing is complete, the moss is put into buckets of water for immediate use.  The ratio of water to moss is important as too much water will make it hard to remove the moss.  Too much moss tends to make the moss form
clumps and can lead to an uneven final thickness on the surface.  It will take some practice to perfect the ratio.  When preparing enough for later use, the wet moss is mounded up in flats with small drain holes in the bottom and allowed to dry.  If not used soon after preparation, it is best to allow the mizu goke to soak in a bucket overnight or at least three hours before use.  If too dry, application will be difficult and increase the incidence of a wavy surface that dries sporadically.  If left in a bucket for more than a day or two, add new water to provide oxygen.  Otherwise the moss with start go anaerobic and smell bad.
     Surface preparation is straightforward for newly repotted bonsai, as the soil surface should be made level or with a slight slope away from the tree already.  It is best to make the final soil level a centimeter lower than normal before mizu goke application.  On established bonsai, any old live moss is scraped off the surface save very close to the nebari on evergreens with flaking bark such as Pinus thunbergii as this area is usually left undisturbed during repotting.  The mizu goke should be applied in a thin layer over all new soil.  Again, this aids in keeping the soil from washing away or shifting so the surface is smooth and level.  If you prefer to keep your soil surface "green", live moss can grow in or through the mizu goke and reestablish itself at a uniform height.  If a more diverse live moss covering for exhibition is desired, moss can be applied over the mizu goke if space allows or it can be scraped off once the root system is stabilized after application.  This stabilization may take 3 months or longer.  Many of the bonsai in the Kokofu Ten Exhibition are repotted during the months preceding the show in February into beautiful, and generally old and extremely expensive, pots.  After the exhibition ends, the trees are potted back in their normal pots, terra cotta containers, or wood boxes.  Moss is often applied at this point as the trees have gone through many stressors; not the least of which was almost two weeks inside an exhibition hall with dry air and low light levels.  It is a testament of skill to the professionals involved that the bonsai masterpieces exhibited remain healthy during and after running such a gaunlet.
     Mizu goke application is done by making a shallow skimming-scooping motion into the bucket and almost slapping the thin layer in your hand onto the soil.  Grabbing a big handful and spreading it around is less accurate.  At a minimum, moss should be applied over all new soil around the perimeter of the pot.  Deciduous trees are covered from the edge of the pot to the nebari leaving these surface roots uncovered as it will decrease the incidence of adventitious roots in the wrong places and just looks better.  As mentioned earlier, evergreens don't need moss covering the undisturbed soil.  Also, a little bit of the overall surface devoid of moss can also aid in assessing water needs.  Next, a curved edged, flat soil tamp like the ones often opposite the business end
of bonsai tweezers should be used to press the moss down to form a slight outward slope on the inside edge of the pot.  Finally, a clean dry rag will aid in the removal of excess moss on the pot rim.  Once dry, mizu goke will stick to the pot and is unsightly and harder to remove. 
     As the new moss dries, it will lighten in color.  This is how to better judge when to water.  If applied to established bonsai, it will dry faster and when visually dry, it's time to water.  Newly repotted bonsai will dry out slower and watering rates need to be watched closely.  It is best to let the moss dry out to the point of looking like caked oatmeal early in the stabilization of new root systems; sometimes watering just the older part of the root system closer to the trunk is advisable as this is where the new fibrous roots will emerge.  As time passes after repotting, the rate at which the moss dries can be tracked and used to judge the vigor of your bonsai.  Really long drying times between waterings are a sign of a weak root system.  It may be time to apply a suitable fungicide.  At times, patches of moss can wash away.  Just apply some new moss in the same fashion.  The moss will sometimes turn green due to some sort of algae.  If too much of the surface turns green, the old moss can be removed and new moss  applied.  If your moss turns green all over, you are most likely watering too much.  Fertilizer cakes will discolor the moss under them but this is no reason for concern.
     The water needs of any species should be learned from bonsai professionals, seasoned local club members, or researching the plant's native habitat.  Mizu goke is not a cure-all for how to time your watering.  Moss is not going to fix any bad habits either.  It is however, a reliable aid in bonsai culture when used properly and may provide an "Ah-Hah" moment for bonsai you had trouble keeping healthy in the past.
 

Owen Reich

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2012, 11:01 PM »
I found the article still in my iPod so in an effort to be more helpful, here you go.....
 

mcpesq817

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Re: soil recipes
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2012, 09:33 AM »
Thanks Owen, that's really great information that you shared.  Really appreciate it!