Author Topic: Substitutes for ...Akadama  (Read 45787 times)

John Kirby

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #90 on: November 03, 2014, 04:15 PM »
Wow the island "don't worry do what you like" dude is asking for scientific research on akadama? Wow.

I will say it again, please don't use Akadama. Don't waste it.

Please, don't worry about it. If you want to grow your trees in clinkers and composted cow manure or silica or bark, or Turface, please do. But don't try to start a fight. I don't care what you use. People ask what the alternatives to Akadama are, and there currently isn't anything that is generally accepted by those who have studied in Japan for temperate climates. Why temperate? Because I personally don't care what people in the tropics or Antarctica use.

Can't get pumice. Sorry. Can't get lava. Sorry. Don't want to listen to Boon. Don't. Boon's and Ryan's and Michael Hagedorn's and Peter Tea's and Own Reich's, etc, etc, etc, soil recommendations are all variations on the same theme. Minor variations, major to connosseurs but really just variations based on experience and training.

I have frequently criticized the faux science on bonsai threads. No replication, no control, inadequate numbers to identify differences, yada, yada, yada. I think the fact that soil particle size, moisture needed, fertilizer changes, etc. as bonsai get more highly refined should clearly contraindicate a simplistic soil study. There is both art and science to the production of fine highly refined bonsai.

John











 

Anthony

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #91 on: November 03, 2014, 04:36 PM »
Adair,

I did some looking around for Akadama information, I found this on Michael Hagedorn's page,

http://crataegus.com/2013/11/24/life-without-turface/

Look at image 4, it is also the result we get.

My request John for research on Akadama was genuine. Apologies for upsetting you.
Good Day
Anthony
 

SHIMA1

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #92 on: November 03, 2014, 05:28 PM »
This idea of the akadama breaking down being a good thing both makes sense, and doesn't make sense (to me). I know that is what Boon teaches, and many members here are Boon students (including Adair). Any one else have any thoughts on the matter? Owen?

I've only started experimenting with akadama this season, so I don't have any long term experience. I acquired a small tree this summer (silverberry) and the potting medium appears to be largely akadama that has broken down quite a bit. Seems to be slow to take up water and not something that I would think is good for a potted tree...but what do I know?

There is the guy who is all over facebook promoting "calidama" as an akadama substitute. His claim is that one of the benefits is that it "never breaks down" (I don't have any, but he posted a video of it being sifted and the stuff sounded like rock, so it must be really hard). That seems to be a direct contradiction to one of the supposed benefits of akadama.

Chris

It makes sense if your climate  allows it to slowly break down.
 

Jason E

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #93 on: November 03, 2014, 07:29 PM »
Paul,

Akadama has a property you didn't consider:  it breaks down over time. Which is actually beneficial. You see, when trees are reported, we want to encourage strong root growth. An open media supports and encourages vigorous root growth.

Once established, especially on refined bonsai, we don't need vigorous root growth. We need enough root to support the tree and take up nutrients, but since the roots now fill the pot, we really don't need any more.

As the soil ages, akadama breaks down. Thus slows down root growth. Which is exactly what we want!  An open soil when freshly repotted, a denser soil later when roots are established.


I know of no other soil component with this property.




That pretty much hit the nail on the head. thanks Adair!
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #94 on: November 03, 2014, 08:01 PM »
It is my understanding that Akadama production was started by bonsai practitioners in Japan, then adopted by lots of bonsai professionals and practitioners.  Akadama is also used for aquariums, house plants, etc.

I also heard there was a ton of testing and documentation but I have no idea how to track that down.  I tried to document exactly what chemicals were used in many different products and nobody I could find could even read the kanji on the labels.  I figured out some of the chemicals by their odor cross-referenced against what we were killing and from previous chem app experience.

I was and am as persistent as possible with any bonsai professionals I meet in any country trying to find why things are done the way they are.  Some times, I am told (after my teacher long ago realized I was not going to give up) "no idea" why this product is good vs another. 

As for Calidama, I have only seen a few bonsai on the East Coast that had it in the mix (all were for air exchange/drainage layer).  It certainly is heavy  ;D

So, hopefully some who read all this will gain some insight into the medias of choice.  I'll use whatever makes the bonsai I work with grow well and respond to technique application in my climate and those of my clients.
 

Anthony

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #95 on: November 03, 2014, 08:47 PM »
Owen,

I did find an answer over on Bonsai4me, there is a Soil Scientist from I believe Norway, who did tests between diatomaceous earth and Akadama.
I believe he invited discussion, which when I get some time, will check him out.

I think Cali-dama is hard pan. The guy was either on this forum or Bnut, through I believe Al Keppler.

I also wonder, if as Colin Lewis has it, the roots go finer into the decaying Akadama, but what does the root do when going into compost [ and not cow manure as suggested by John, which is the mix used in N.E India, with an Akadama type material ]
I hope this is not another legend as the --- when roots meet sharp surfaces they tend to divide more aggressively.
Good Day
Anthony
 

coh

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #96 on: November 03, 2014, 09:13 PM »

The Japanese bonsai professionals will use what works best. Peter Tea tells a story about how he was told to put fertilizer on the trees. It was cottonseed meal. So he asked what the composition was. Like, N,P,K. Mr. Tanaka looked at him, and replied, "I don't know!  Just go put it on!  It's cottonseed meal!  It works!"

Now, I'm not suggesting that this topic doesn't merit further study. But, for me, I really don't care why it works, as long as it does.

And, there's the old joke about how the scientists and engineers "proved" that the bumblebee cannot fly. And yet, it does.

As long as you realize that it is a joke/urban folklore, see i.e. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/flight-bumblebee

I understand the point "I don't really care why it works, as long as it does." But the key part of that phrase is "as long as it does." What happens if it stops working, or if akadama (or whatever) is no longer available? That's when understanding can be a little helpful. It's like the whole debate/argument about water quality and whether/how much it matters. Well, it doesn't matter if your water is good, but what if it's not? Then it's good to have an understanding of pH, alkalinity, etc.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for sharing their opinions and experiences.

Chris
 

coh

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #97 on: November 03, 2014, 09:15 PM »

I think Cali-dama is hard pan. The guy was either on this forum or Bnut, through I believe Al Keppler.


Anthony, Al has talked about calidama but he is not the person who is producing and selling it.
 

Adair M

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #98 on: November 03, 2014, 10:48 PM »
Coh,

If akadama becomes unavailable, I think I would just go with lava and pumice. And water more often.
 

John Kirby

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #99 on: November 04, 2014, 08:11 AM »
Anthony, not upset. Just find the whole, I don't believe akadama works argument to be specious. I want to be clear I understand that you were not implying that, others may have. Akadama is not magical, it is my hope that "we" (North Americans) will find a clay in a volcanic area that can be produced reasonably enough to be substituted for Akadama.

If you want to see how roots penetrate and then move on through substrate, put styrofoam packing peanuts in to your drainage layer. After a year or two, you see how the roots enter the styrofoam matrix and then continue on, growing and thickening as they continue to extend. You will see that root tips 'colonize' the styrofoam and then several roots emerge and continue to grow on their way.

No, I am no advocating the use of packing peanuts in bonsai soil. I have just had to repot trees (3) that had styrofoam packing peanuts as a 1-4" deep drainage layer. In reallly big pots. I am told this was done by a certain professional to lighten the final product so one person could carry the tree.

Please don't use Akadama. This is my new signature line.
 

Adair M

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #100 on: November 04, 2014, 09:13 AM »
More for us then!
 

John Kirby

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #101 on: November 04, 2014, 10:07 AM »
Yes.
 

Anthony

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #102 on: November 04, 2014, 07:45 PM »
John,

just to say thank you for taking the time to respond, and even though you are being very polite, I am also guilty of - I don't believe akadama works,

Because, I was going on the mixes seen in the early Bonsai Today articles, especially where one adds a % of Akadama to Japanese sand for J.B.pines.

I found this mix over on this site - http://torontobonsai.org/archive/Journal/Journal.2005/oct.2005/boon.soil.htm

Boon's mix is given as -

"Boon responded to my email quite quickly. Below is his soil mix.

Soil Mix for BIB and Bonsai Boon. Our soil recipe contains:

1 part lava rock

1 part pumice

1 part Akadama

a cup of horticultural charcoal (per 5 gallon mix)

a cup of decomposed granite (per 5 gallon mix)

For deciduous, use small size mix (1/16"-1/4") and add 1 extra part of Akadama.

All ingredients must be bone dry, screened and sized. The dust is discarded.

The use of pumice for bottom layer drainage (5/16") is recommended.

For conifers from the desert and high mountains use medium size mix (3/8" - 5/16").

For lower elevation conifers and water loving conifers, use small size mix (1/16" - 1 / 4")

Note:

Proper repotting technique needs to be applied; otherwise this mix is not recommended. For best results, organic fertilizer is recommended at the correct times and season. A thin layer of coarsely screened New Zealand sphagnum moss should be placed on top of the new soil. The moss will keep the soil in place during watering. The thickness of the moss layer should vary according to climate and watering habits.

This soil mix has been used successfully throughout North America."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From  what I am seeing there, by volume, the Akadama is less than 1/3 of the equation.
With a layer of pumice to enhance drainage ? - correct ?

This is different to what I see with the Japanese features on Youtube, where it seems to be 100 % Akadama.

Down here there is a similiar mix used with some clay being added to sand and some organic matter. Standard Agricultural practice. Probably an artificial Sand Loam.
It works well for 2 or 3 years and then starts to hold water.
We said no to that a while ago.

Essentially we just replaced the clay with fired brick ,but fired earthenware clay which will perhaps decompose in a million years. Porous and a compliment to the Gravel and Compost.

The information for this came from - Basic Bonsai Student Workbook - L.Liggett on pg.11 - printed sometime before 1980.
Since the book was bought sometime in 1981.

I read and then I ask questions, hope you guys can survive the questions.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Judy

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #103 on: November 04, 2014, 09:16 PM »

1 part lava rock

1 part pumice

1 part Akadama

a cup of horticultural charcoal (per 5 gallon mix)

a cup of decomposed granite (per 5 gallon mix)

For deciduous, use small size mix (1/16"-1/4") and add 1 extra part of Akadama.

All ingredients must be bone dry, screened and sized. The dust is discarded.

The use of pumice for bottom layer drainage (5/16") is recommended.

For conifers from the desert and high mountains use medium size mix (3/8" - 5/16").

For lower elevation conifers and water loving conifers, use small size mix (1/16" - 1 / 4")



From  what I am seeing there, by volume, the Akadama is less than 1/3 of the equation.
With a layer of pumice to enhance drainage ? - correct ?


Pardon me Anthony for butting in, but how on earth thru all the conversations could you miss that the soil mix is most always used as a three part mix.  Akadama Pumice Lava.  How many times has this soil discussion been thrashed, and it's always the same three ingredients in Boon mix.
 

Adair M

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Re: Substitutes for ...Akadama
« Reply #104 on: November 04, 2014, 09:28 PM »
Anthony, I'm with Judy on this.

Boon's mix has always been these three parts: akadama, pumice, and lava, with a minute amount of charcoal and maybe some granite grit.

That's the "basic mix". He will vary the proportion of akadama if he needs soil that retains more water.

This formula has been discussed on many threads on tis forum.