Author Topic: Substitutes for ...Akadama  (Read 44733 times)

Joshua Hanzman

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #60 on: February 23, 2014, 03:18 PM »
Thanks John and Anthony.

Anthony, I have done a bit of research, probably not enough but it does seem like the north uses Akadama, although a lot of others grow in different soil with just fine results, there seems to be a wise/stubborn few (whether they are the stubborn or wise few depends on what the facts are) who refuse to switch. In the south I tend to hear mixed results, as some say it breaks down too quickly.

John, I do realizing what your saying, and believe me I know most of what I say is pipe-dreaming, but I will not, no I can not stop asking these questions until I feel satisfied with the answer, it is just the way I'm built. And I know your not asking me to stop, but rather just letting me know that the road I'm traveling down has been traveled down before with limited success. As far as the right price that is mostly just chemical economies of scale, if they can charge 9 dollars for a 50 lb. bag of growstones, they could have chosen another particle to high fire, high pressurize and make some worthy akadama substitute. As a chemical engineer I am well aware of processes at say exxon mobil with huge increases in pressure and very high temperature, high enough to reach supercritical fluid levels, that cost next to nothing because they reroute some exothermic process results from elsewhere, and the pressure is just some huge weight pulley system on a rigid body.... And phenomenology is all we need to  know right? We don't need to know why it works, we only need to know, that it works! Why look into it more, unless a relevant question can be answered.

As far as this little dumb experiment I'm going to carry out, I think it bests not to break it down into it's parts such as right after repotting, top, middle, bottom of drainage layer, why? because you do not single out akadama for each of these parts, rather for the sum of the whole right? For the sake of simplicity you generalize your soil and say akadama works best. Well how does it work best, it grows the best right with some medium ground between it growing the best and taking about 3-5 years to break down? Therefore, with all other things kept equal including- light, amounts of myccor (in case part of akadama's advantages involve interactions with mycorrhizae), water, air, nutrients, other soil components (which will be lava, pumice), particle size, exposure to the elements.

Please continue to play devil's advocate, as no one else will play and all work and no bonsai make Josh a dull boy.
 

Anthony

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #61 on: February 23, 2014, 04:07 PM »
Joshua,

a dumb suggestion. My brother-in-law bought himself $14.00 US of 10 mm glass marbles. Enough to fill a small stainless steel colander [ 16 cm x 7 cm like a bowl ] and then some.
The idea, Ball Bearing idea [ can only compact so much ] and as the organic, home made compost. In this he will grow probably a Serissa sinensis or Tamarindus or other. When the roots begin to show through the holes [ underside ] the colander will be entered into a another colander [ probably plastic ] about 3 cm larger all over.

The second colander will have almost 100 % compost, if too soggy, he will add some 5mm gravel.

The idea being to test, air spaces, water retention and anything else that pops into his head.

There is already a bonsai container with larger marbles growing, a tamarind and one with smaller marbles for ixoras.

Already tested is 5mm gravel [ silica ] and a local composite material of hardened clay from a zone of uplifted hills [ probably a heavy deposit of clay, pressured under saltwater from the Orinocco as Trinidad was once part of Venezuela and under water.
The gravel / compost mix [ less than 10% by volume ] grows the local ficus p. like a dream.
The composite material / compost mix [ less than 30 % by volume ] grows tamarinds well.

Thus far the balance seems to be water retention and air spaces after watering.

Still searching for 5mm glas marbles.

Please note our climate goes from No rain after Christmas, and rain around May/June. Additionally, anything less than 15 mm of rain is considered to be drought for the San Fernando area.
We drop to 50 % humidity and with rain return to 80% humidity.
Plus heavy winds during the Dry Season.

What we do is transplant after the 2nd of January, and use up to 1/3 compost by volume, the dry weather allows for hand watering with a 1.5 or 2 gallon plastic watering can.
Starts as once in the morning and once in the early evening. Then goes by March to twice in the morning and once in the evening.
Then with rain, by observation.
All fertilising is in the dry months if needed, by 1/3 liquid into moist soil or granules of Blaucorm or a osmocote type.

Because we go through our version of Desert to modified marine type climate, we can test heavy organic use to heavy inorganic or the reverse.

Also we can modify [ as the Chinese and Japanese did back in the 1600's and early/later ] the clay body type,porous or non-porous.
Porous, will allow a heavier use organic material, at all times of the year.
Originally the Chinese seem to have done this simply because if a pot cracked, you just bought another [ this was the hobby of the very wealthy back then.]
The Japanese seem to be using Chinese stoneware used originally for holding incense or other, and drilling expertly to create Bonsai pots.

Anyhow, the use of soil [ Loam ] was more prevalent, and the factor was water retention and air spaces, plus some form of compost, and originally very deep pots.
Good Day,
Anthony

The Chinese zones are 9 to 8 / 7 , the Japanese seem to hover around 7, in the plants used by this group.
There is no Tropical zone in China. Though a thin band of zone 10 may exist near the sea and around the their islands.
The mallsai, come from mainland China [ so the Fukien tea for example is also not Tropical.]
 

Joshua Hanzman

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #62 on: February 23, 2014, 04:33 PM »
Anthony, you never mentioned how the clay from the mountains performed RELATIVE to the dreamy substance =) How did it grow the ficus, and how did the dreamy gravel grow the Tamarind?


John, Don, Anthony and all the other vets please give me your advice in this hypothetical situation- you have 6 different possible substitutes to Akadama, how would you setup an experiment to test which one performs better than the next?
 

Anthony

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #63 on: February 23, 2014, 05:53 PM »
Joshua,

the gravel / compost mix allowed the ficus p. to fill the pot with roots, grow new shoots / leaves, and there was no root rot, as was seen in the standard mix used of 1/3 broken brick, 1/3 gravel and 1/3 compost by volume.

The clay type from the central range, at 5mm, did not break down in 4 years of use. Allowed the tamarind to grow normally and become as dense as it did in the standard mix [ seen above ] and you could sprinkle on a heaped tablespoon of compost as soon as it disappeared into the spaces in the stone over time.
The repotting showed some of the spaces filled with compost balls, with roots passing through many of balls.

There is also a fukien tea in a small container of just the central range clay type/stone, with a teaspoon of compost added every now and them.
Repotting showed, a soil mix that looked like a standard soil mix. 4 year situation thus far.

A simple test.
Grow 6 seeds [ same type ] or 6 similar rooted cuttings [ same type ] in the same size containers under as closely as possible the same conditions.
See what happens.

Note also - what can cause soil confusion ------------ different cultivars of the same tree.
Good Day
Anthony

 

Anthony

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #64 on: February 23, 2014, 06:17 PM »
Oh Joshua,

the reason a soil mix that decayed was rejected [ became a clay. a powder or other ] had to do with the development uff a core.

There was enough information around in the early 80's about having to go into the heart of the tree and hose out the clay.
Instead the objective became to introduce an inorganic material that would stay and create spaces for more organic material to filter down into [ much as it occurs in nature ] this also took into account two situations,

[a] roots - either dieing and decaying into compost ,
or
roots enlarging and losing the ability to help feed the tree.

Hence the pie cuts.

Trouble was, experience - when to pie cut and how not to cut through a large active root, and kill the tree.

Thus far as I stated in another topic, we have J.B.pines with root structures that look like azalea rootings.
Oh well, you live you lean.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Joshua Hanzman

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #65 on: March 09, 2014, 06:20 PM »
Ok, so I sent chemical analysis of Akadama to a supplier of Hydroponic/Chemical aggregates for industrial use that is a family friend (same place I got my pumice). He sent me back a bunch of samples that were similar in analysis to Akadama, and this was the most interesting to me. Here is it next to the akadama chemical analysis for comparison-

Table1
Chemical analysis of Akadama & Akadama mud
Composition of Akadama
Percentage
SiO2-51.30%
Al2O3-38.05%
MgO-1.94%
MnO-0.26%
CaO-0.78%
Fe2O3-7.67%
pHpzca-6.9

Composition of Sample-
Percentage
SiO2- 70.8%
Al2O3- 14.1%
CaO-2.2%
Mgo-4.6%
K2O-1.3%
Fe2O3- .8%
Na2O-.2
pH- 6.6


Both this sample and akadama are both are non-swelling bentonite minerals, you can just about break it apart with a fair amount of pressure and hopefully will behave very similar under growing conditions, this is the stuff I'm going to experiment on.  And it is 1/10 the cost of akadama. I'll post some pictures soon, gotta weird thing happening where my laptop doesn't recognize my sd card
 

SHIMA1

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #66 on: October 28, 2014, 06:49 PM »
I've just waded through this thread (whew!) and can't believe I'm jumping into a soil discussion. But I'm new here, so what the hell...First off, I've always wondered why pumice and lava? I know there's lava and there's lava, depending where it's mined, but the lava here , we call it "cinder" is not nearly as porous as pumice, has ragged edges which lock together, and  being black, is a heat sink. But until I brought in pumice and the word got around ("what's that white stuff?") I was the only one not using lava and organics.
 

SHIMA1

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #67 on: October 28, 2014, 07:00 PM »
I've just waded through this thread (whew!) and can't believe I'm jumping into a soil discussion. But I'm new here, so what the hell...First off, I've always wondered why pumice and lava? I know there's lava and there's lava, depending where it's mined, but the lava here , we call it "cinder" is not nearly as porous as pumice, has ragged edges which lock together, and  being black, is a heat sink. But until I brought in pumice and the word got around ("what's that white stuff?") I was the only one not using lava and organics.
I wrote this a few weeks ago and found it in "Draft", never posted it. And now I find here the first cogent answer to my question. I still won't be mixing lava in with pumice as I don't think it's necessary with large 1/2 inch or so pumice, But  I can see the value of using it with smaller pumice.
So thanks BSG, So glad I found you. And thanks also to Owen for the suggestion. ;D
 

Chrisl

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #68 on: October 29, 2014, 11:06 AM »
I was taught that pumice is good for moisture availability, and lava was for oxygen exchange, and akadama for cation exchange.  Each has a function.
 

SHIMA1

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #69 on: October 30, 2014, 09:10 PM »
I was taught that pumice is good for moisture availability, and lava was for oxygen exchange, and akadama for cation exchange.  Each has a function.
I would think oxygen exchange wouldn't be a problem with larger size pumice. Or most any media.
 

Anthony

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #70 on: October 30, 2014, 10:14 PM »
We could try it as,

[1] crushed porous red earthenware brick for controlled moisture retention, [5 mm size ] and fertiliser in solution,

[2] builder's gravel [ silica based ] for a freely draining situation [ 5 mm]

[3] compost for the ability to hold moisture /fertiliser and supply nutrients and help micro organisms.

Would be even better if the inorganics were round [ the ballbearing idea ]

But what the hay, we have plants growing well in the above since 1980 or so, in full sun, no rain, heavy rain and I am told they have excellent twigging or leaf density.

We also have the local ficus and tamarind growing in rounded gravel and hydroponic pebbles, with or without compost, in the mix [ added later as teaspoons on the surface, watered in.]

Should be interesting to see how far the rounded gravel can go with regards to different tree / shrub types.
Will let you guys know as we keep testing.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #71 on: October 30, 2014, 10:48 PM »
Shima, I've had the same thought about nixing the lava.

 I've had discussions with growers in Japan who use pure low-fired akadama for deciduous bonsai in middle to late development with great success.  I've tried it on some smaller deciduous trees in shallow containers and it seems to work pretty well.  My concern was with my consistent lack of being home; allowing for longer drying time between waterings.

In my opinion there is no media debate.  If your bonsai are performing to the level you desire, don't change anything.  If you are not happy with your trees' health and response to technique application, the media is a likely culprit as well as watering habits.  I do not ask the Inuit how to get good fruit set on citrus; sticking with local experience on media selection seems most logical to me.
 

Chrisl

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #72 on: October 31, 2014, 10:56 AM »
The problem with that approach Owen though has it's faults; I had thought I was getting great growth w. turface and pumice, until I tried akadama this yr and saw what "great growth" really looks like.  I was resistant, but tried it after Ryan strongly encouraged me to give it a try. 
 

akeppler

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #73 on: October 31, 2014, 10:02 PM »
The problem with that approach Owen though has it's faults; I had thought I was getting great growth w. turface and pumice, until I tried akadama this yr and saw what "great growth" really looks like.  I was resistant, but tried it after Ryan strongly encouraged me to give it a try. 

hmmm....thats kind of refreshing......
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #74 on: October 31, 2014, 11:20 PM »
I should clarify. If you're not sure what media to use local resources are often a good idea.  I'm trying to be diplomatic I suppose. :-).  Local resource reference also referred to Anthony's recommendations of using decomposed organic material and marbles.  While Anthony's research is interesting and I enjoy learning about the trials, there isn't a whole lot of relavence there to a temperate climate versus one at the equator.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 11:22 PM by Owen Reich »