Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Japanese Black Pine Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Chrisl on July 02, 2011, 01:01 PM

Title: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 02, 2011, 01:01 PM
Hello All,

My first post here.  This seems like a really well run forum with very knowledgable and nice people.  I'd classify myself still as a beginner though I've been doing bonsai for 20 yrs (based on results  :D  )

Anyway, I live in Chicago now, and had to start over on Black Pines as the two I had died in the move.  The water pH is 7.5.  I used a locally available bonsai soil (aggregates mainly) and I mixed in some peat moss when I repotted earlier this year.  My question is, do I have to acidify my water supply by saying using an Azalea chemical fertilizer, or something else?  Since it was new soil, I haven't fertilized it yet.

I'm just not sure how to acidify the soil and water supply in my pines, my two azaleas, and even I just learned, my japanese maples also like acidic soil.

Any ideas??

Thanks
Chris
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on July 02, 2011, 02:37 PM
Welcome!

Many of us on here choose to grow our JBP (and other bonsai) in purely inorganic soils.  The traditional Japanese soils or "Boon mix" are naturally slightly acidic.  Depending on where the latest debate is on soil vs water acidity is you may get different answers.  Regardless, inorganic soils seem to do well across the country as well as many other parts of the world.

The best option may be to find those in your area successfully growing JBP and what tips they may have for you regarding soil and water.  

My opinion, drop the peat moss, use tons of fertilizer in Spring, and quite a bit in fall.  I use mostly organic fertilizer with a mix of chemical from time to time.

Got any pictures?
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: nathanbs on July 02, 2011, 04:27 PM
i thought your post said Japanese Black Pine Addiction :) Sorry just wasting space no advice for you
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Treebeard55 on July 02, 2011, 08:31 PM
Have to chuckle at Nathan's comment. There's an addiction you don't want to break ...

Might be useful too, to check out the pH they're used to in their native range and habitat.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 03, 2011, 11:46 AM
Thanks for the warm welcome John, and advice from you and Steve.  I appreciate any responses.  You're right about checking out local bonsai for conditions of best growth.  I just joined the Chicago Bonsai Society and went to their spring show.  Some beautiful bonsais that were just magnificent.  Right now, I'm awaiting my first meeting actually after the holiday.   You mentioned Boons soil, I moved out here from Berkeley never knowing Boon was in Alameda.  A wasted opportunity for me.  But his videos looked informative, and visual vs. a book, so I bought them both, on the JBP and JM.  Very very good job, and, I learned how to wire properly....though I am still trying to properly implement if I can say ;)

But anyway, you are suggesting an inorganic medium, and that upon itself, will provide an acidic enviroment in the roots, despite watering it with my high pH water supply??

Thanks again guys!!
Chris
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 03, 2011, 11:48 AM
Oh, I can get a photo of the pine, which is still un styled from when I bought it at the Spring Bonsai Show.  But I don't know how to post a pic, nor have I uploaded any shots to a photo server to post before.  Can you give me some hints as to how to do it?  Thanks John!
Chris
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on July 03, 2011, 11:53 AM
But anyway, you are suggesting an inorganic medium, and that upon itself, will provide an acidic enviroment in the roots, despite watering it with my high pH water supply??

That's usually where the debate lies.  I will say that with my inorganic soil, mostly organic fertilizers, and local water often in the 8's I've seen no problem that would make me think pH problems for me.

How to post photos (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/forum-feedback/how-to-post-photos/)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 03, 2011, 01:37 PM
Thanks John!  "Wow", pH of 8...boy thats basic!  It's good news to hear your success with inorganic media and organic fertilizers...same as the other John ;)  Browsing the forum I've seen some awesome trees by both of you guys, so I know it works. 

And Thanks for the photo link, I'll try to post a pic tomorrow....embarrassingly as it might be hehe
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 04, 2011, 05:34 PM
Here are some pics.  I just bought this in may and transplanted it in the wood box to help develop the trunk and nebari.  It was somewhat yellowed when I got it, it's looking much healthier now.  So I thought I'd give it till this fall to begin styling, and then put in ground.  After seeing all the fantastic trunks that you all have posted that were grown in the ground motivated me to give it a whirl.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 05, 2011, 12:05 PM
Hi Chris,

I think the problem is that you have it in way too big a box for the size of tree.  I've found that even 100% inorganic mixes can stay too wet when in a container that is too big, particularly in the case of conifers.

Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 06, 2011, 11:55 AM
do you think it's too late then to give it it's first styling and put it in the ground now?  Or put it in a smaller  pot and put in ground this fall after a first style??

Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 06, 2011, 11:07 PM
Anyone??  I have the next couple days off and have time to work on this pine finally!  I've been really looking forward to styling this tree and getting it in the ground, whenever that might be.  It was decandled mostly in June.  But as you can see, it's really full and I'd like to thin it out a bit before putting in the ground.
Appreciate any help guys!

Oh, and mcpesq817, I forgot to say "Thanks" for the hint on the box.  I read how this works on Maple in Mr. Adam's book on Maples.  So I figured....wrongly ;) 
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on July 07, 2011, 08:14 AM
Transplanted in May, decandled in June, then wanting to repot or plant in the ground again this year?  Probably too much work for one year.  I would leave it then if you must, repot or plant next Spring.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 07, 2011, 10:09 AM
Hi Chris,

Sorry about not responding sooner - I checked BSG early yesterday morning and missed your reply.

You're correct that people use boxes, and I know that Adams talks about the technique in his maples book.  I think you have to remember though that conifers are different, with roots in my experience taking much longer to grow and colonize a pot.  I learned this the hard way when I planted a pretty good sized scots pine in a 100% inorganic mix into an anderson flat, which has perfect drainage underneath.  It was overpotted, and slowly died because the soil, even with the inorganic mix and the drainage provided by the flat, stayed too wet under the tree.  So for my pines and junipers, even if I am trying to grow them out a bit, I try and use a container that is not too much bigger than the root mass.

Here is a good article from Brent that addresses overpotting:  http://evergreengardenworks.com/earthpot.htm

As for your current situation, how tall is the box?  If it is very shallow, it might be ok.  If not, you can probably do a few things right now to reduce the soil volume and not disturb the roots.  One would be to remove some soil from the top of the box, taking care not to go too far and hit the roots.  Another alternative to reducing the soil mass, if your root spread does not come too close to the edges of the box, would be to remove the soil around the edges of the box and replace it with something like styrofoam that takes up space, is light, and not water retentive.  It's a bit hard from your pictures to see how overpotted your pine is, but these are some suggestions.  I certainly would avoid a second repot, as you've already put the tree through stress with the first repot and decandling in only the last two months.

Three other things - first, if the goal using the box was to grow the pine out, you probably shouldn't be decandling it.  Second, if I remember correctly, Boon and others recommend that you don't decandle pines in the year that they are repotted as it ends up being two insults to the pine (which are less hardy that way than deciduous trees).  In my experience, JBPs tend to put out shorter candles in the year that they are repotted anyway, lessening any need to decandle.  Third, I'm not sure that I would be putting peat moss into a pine soil mix - I've had good success going 100% inorganic.

Hope that helps.  I'm certainly no expert but these are a few thoughts I have had since working with JBPs over the last three years.

Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on July 07, 2011, 10:57 AM
You can decandle and repot in the same year, just be more cautious as to the degree of work you do. If your tree has been on a regular decandling and repotting cycle, they should not miss a beat. Typically, we might decandle, wire, pull needles in the fall, repot in the spring and then decandle in the summer. The caveat is, the tree has to be growing strongly and be well fertilized, healthy, etc.

John
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 07, 2011, 11:43 AM
Wow!  Great information guys!!  I so much appreciate the suggestions.

mcpesq817, the box is the size Adams recommended for Maples, 24"X18"X3"D.  It hasn't helped it's rained so much the soil has stayed moist since the initial repotting.  This week will be 4 weeks after, so I can start fertilizing it now.  Any other organic fert. other than fish emulsion?  I have dogs that don't bother my plants, unless they smell that wonderful fish emulsion, and they will eat the soil.

 When I repotted, it was extremely root bound and had not been transplanted in three years accord. to the seller.  I believe it after I repotted it!
I'm working on getting an inorganic medium, I can find red lava easily here, but for the life of me, ( I surfed for 2hrs yest looking for Chicago source of Pumice Stone) I can't find Pumice Stones.  I thought I wait till Chicago's big Aug. Bonsai Show to see if I can get some Adadama and perhaps Pumice.

I'd really like to get this plant in the ground, not only to incr. the trunk, but to keep it outdoors during the winter.  Keeping my tropical bonsai indoors 2yrs ago gave me some fungus and mealy bugs that I have guaranteed, but I think they are lost..a ficus forrest planting.  And this winter, I ended up with scales on my Chinese Elm, the only one I bought as a 'finished' bonsai btw, and lost two main branches.  The ficus' were kept upstairs in the bright sun, and my Elm I put in our dark basement.  The diseases here are killing me!  In ten yrs in Berkeley, not one disease, here so far I've had fungus, mealy bugs, black spot, and powdery mildew.  Geesh!  So long story  short, I'd like to put in the ground the bonsais I want to thicken up and to avoid over the winter disease.  I'm thinking of getting a greenhouse, this one:  http://www.greenhouses.com/rionstc4prestigegreenhousekit.html
But haven't made up my mind yet.

Getting back to my pine, I'm going to return the Miracle Grow that i got at H Depot, and get some organic fert and a smaller bottle of M. Grow and mix these two up.  I'll also return the acidic fertilizer unless I should use that only for my azaleas?
I think I'm going to risk transplanting again and get it in the ground.  I'll use inorganic soil instead of dirt in filling it in.  Guess I'll just get some red lava and use that.  I'll be real careful removing the pine from the box while transplanting.

And John, Thanks for the simple time line of things to do...it substantiates what i was thinking.  But what about the very initial styling of the plant, can I do that now or wait till the fall and I can style, pull needles, maybe decandle and wire??
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on July 07, 2011, 01:14 PM
Personally, I would leave it alone until next spring.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 07, 2011, 01:35 PM
Ok, will do!  Thanks John!
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 14, 2011, 11:20 AM
I wanted to follow up also on this thread.  mcpesq817, you were absolutely correct in that the flat was too big.  It hasn't dried out once since repotting due to the box, and the rains here.  So I followed your advice and got rid of about 4" of soil all the way around the 24"x18" flat.  I put styrofoam, luckily I save a lot of stuff  ;),
around to fill the gap.  I just did this three days ago and it's still wet as we had a huge storm the other day.  It'll be 4 weeks after transplanting this coming fri, so I'm going to hit it hard with fertilzer...full strength M. Grow and fish emulsion.

So again, Thanks Everyone for the help!!
Chris
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 19, 2011, 04:09 PM
Since it's so hot outside right now, I thought I'd start getting my inorganic material ready and I can sift and make it up now.  I've found/bought Turface, chicken grit, (1 bag of diatomaceous earth just to check it out, but it looks like it might be too fine), and crushed red lava rock.  I also picked up a couple bags of pine mulch.

So, my question is, does anyone have any recommendations as to what I should try?  I was thinking along the lines of 80% Turface, 10% chicken grit, and 10% crushed lava rock.  And I was going to sift these from 1/8"-1/4".  I could throw in say 5% pine mulch or use it as a top dressing during the summer.  Comments or thoughts??

Many Thanks!
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Dave Murphy on July 20, 2011, 07:12 AM
1 part each of turface, grit, and lava.  If you really must add the bark, I'd add 10% or less. 
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 20, 2011, 09:46 AM
Thank You Dave for that 'recipe'  ;D  Much appreciated.  I don't have to add the pine mulch, I can just use it as a top layer if I find that the mix dries out too quickly.  So Thanks again Dave for the great information.

I wish I knew enough to contribute to this forum.  But it seems that all the forum members here are real professionals in my eye.  Even if it's a hobby, they are still extremely good.  Like the 3 entrees into this month's contest.  All just absolutely brilliant.  But I'll try to contribute when I can. ;)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Treebeard55 on July 20, 2011, 10:17 AM
... the pine mulch, I can just use it as a top layer...

Long-fiber sphagnum, such as is sold for an orchid growing medium at stores like Lowe's, also works well as a mulch in hot weather. A wad of sphagnum on/around a fert cake also helps keep it moist longer.

I wish I knew enough to contribute to this forum...  But I'll try to contribute when I can. ;)

We were all newbies at one time or another, so don't sweat it.  :) And FWIW, I've been in bonsai for most of the last two decades, and still sometimes feel like a kindergartner when I read some of the things here on BSG. But that makes it a good place to learn, of course.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 20, 2011, 10:50 AM
I have mixed feelings about turface.  I think it's fine for deciduous trees that you are growing out and as backfill for collected material. But, I am starting to not like the fact that it can clump together, particular if you use organic fertilizers, leading to dry spots in the soil.  I've been phasing it out of my soil mixes for my better trees, preferring to mostly use pumice, grit, haydite and lava (if I can source the haydite and lava), and to a lesser extent, akadama.

That being said, I would think about maybe going 1/3-1/3-1/3 turface, lava and grit.  I used a similar ratio in the past swapping out the lava with pumice and had good results.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 20, 2011, 11:58 AM
Treebeard, I hadn't heard of using sphagnum moss that way.  Makes sense as that is what we use for air layering.  Good info.

I've been doing bonsai also for about 20 yrs, but did it all on my own and never took it "seriously" until recently.  I've read a few really good books, and started looking online for guidance.  Only then did I realize I how awful my progress had been, how many things I was doing wrong, and my bonsais didn't look realistic.
And now, I'm very bummed I hadn't heard of Boon while I lived in Berkeley.  I would've loved to do some of his intensives.  I'd be way ahead of where I am now.  But, what's done is done.  This is an awesome site to learn, and yes, I do feel like I'm in kindergarden and having to start all over again! lol

mcpesq817, I hadn't heard that Turface can clump.  What a bummer to hear.  I haven't been able to find pumice here yet, nor haydite.  I'll keep a look out for these.  Nice to hear some conformity on the make up though 1 part each of turface, lava and grit. 

Thanks Guys!!
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on July 20, 2011, 03:38 PM
Chrissi,
Look up Matt Ouwinga (Kaedebonsai.com) who lives in a Chicago suburb and is a visitor here from time to time, he is very well trained and does a lot of work nationally, Trident maples is what he likes to be known for (thus the Kaede) be he also is very, very good across species- including pines. For you he has the additional benefit of living in a similar climate. He may be able to help you source or at least find the soil components that you need. Jhn Kirby (formerly of Evanston, and many other places....)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Treebeard55 on July 20, 2011, 07:48 PM
I'm largely self-taught too, until recently. I'm finding that as a result my knowledge is uneven: kindergarten level at one point, PhD the next. (OK, that's hyperbole, but you get my analogy, I'm sure.)

Turface is one of those topics on which you'll get 11 different opinions from 10 different growers! I've never known it to clump, tho it can take a while to re-wet after it's gotten too dry; I'm a little surprised that it's clumped for you, mcpesq.  ??? Jack Wikle, from whom many of us have learned a great deal over the years, has used Turface for decades. I recently had the chance to ask him again about it, and whether he's had any problems with it. He acted a bit surprised at the question, and assured me he's never had any problems with Turface. So you'll have to make your own decision!

I've used Jack's basic recipe for years (3:2:1 of Turface, bark or peat, and poultry grit.) Recently, urged on by Tom Brown and a few others, I've started experimenting with a lava-based mix as well. So far I'm happy with both. I get my lava from Bonsai by Fields in Indianapolis. One of our older girls lives in Indy, so I time my purchases to coincide with visits and save on shipping!  ;)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 21, 2011, 09:47 AM
Hi Treebeard,

Not to hijack the thread, but I think it's worth adding more detail on my experience.  I have found the clumping to really only occur when using solid organic fertilizers.  I've gotten the crusty clumping using other soil mixes at the surface, but it doesn't seem as bad as when I used 100% turface where the clumping appears to extend much further down into the pot.  I noticed the issue when I saw that after heavily watering trees that I had in pond baskets, the turface further down in the pot was not changing color in some spots.  If they weren't in pond baskets I would, have assumed that everything was ok because the soil as a whole remained well-draining - it was just that I saw through the holes in the pond basket dry spots here and there lower down into the basket.  I don't get the clumping issue with straight turface when using inorganics (or liquid organics), but then again, I don't get it with other soil mixes using those types of fertilizers either.  

Other than that, I've had very good results with turface.  Put a maple in 100% turface and you'll be amazed at the root system you'll get.  I just caution people that you could end up with dry spots.

For what it's worth, I'm still working through my fertilizer regimen.  I use liquid organics and inorganics once a week, but given that my soil is 100% inorganic, I think it makes sense to have some kind of fertilizer that slowly releases nutrients into the soil with every watering.  I have moved from cakes to Bio-gold and Osmocote, but I'm think of moving to solely using Osmocote and the Miracle Gro solid fertilizer pellets, mostly for cost and convenience reasons.

Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 21, 2011, 10:54 AM
John, Thanks so Much for referring me to Matt Ouwinga!  I checked out his website and found some exc. bonsai!  He his talented.  I will contact him and see what he offers and such.  I'd really like to study under someone if I can afford it.  If not, I'll save till I can  ;)

So you used to live in Evanston eh?  Did you also have problems with diseases like black spot, powdery mildew, and scales?  Not one disease in 10 yrs in N. Cali, here, it seems like disease after disease.  I'm pretty sure I lost a 15+ yr old Chinese Elm to scales despite me using systemic insect control as well as a spray insecticide.  It's aggravating to say the least, but I'm also slowly learning about the climate and how important placement of one's bonsai to ensure adeq. air flow, and the right light.  

Treebeard (Hi Steve, my name is Chris....nice to meet you ;) ).  Funny you mentioned people having multiple opinions about Turface.  I'm also in high end audio, and the exact same thing happens there too.  One guy might thing a piece of gear is killer, but two days later, another chap says it's terrible LOL
You have to try it for yourself, in  your own home, to make a valid decision.  Sounds the same for Turface.
I also found Boon Manakitivipart's soil recipe:  
1 part lava rock
1 part pumice (which is lighter and holds less water than lava)
1 part akadama  (which will break down in about 2 years)
1/2 cup horticultural charcoal (per 5 gallon mix)
1/2 cup decomposed granite (per 5 gallon mix)

(I forgot to Thank Chris Johnson/bonsaikc.com for posting this on his blog!)

Substituting Turface for Akadama, and leaving out the pumice since I can't find it, it's quite close to the 1:1:1 mix.  Interesting he adds a bit of charcoal to the mix.
So I've found several possible mix recipes to try out. I love experimenting anyway so this should be interesting in the long run.

mcpesq817, your not hijacking the thread at all.  Your post was quite pertinent!
Hopefully by using a mix of inorganic media, and avoiding 100% Turface I can avoid any possible clumping issues.  Good to know there might be issues with using 100% Turface.  Thanks for sharing!

I too have been thinking of using Osmocote in addition to using both M. Grow and Fish Emulsion.  Seems like a "well rounded" fertilization routine.  

May I ask, you said you fertilize once a week, just curious, what about plants in large nursery containers that stay wet for a week.  Do you alternate then using plain water, then fertilize the next week?  

Thanks so much everyone for contributing to this thread.  I've learned a ton!!  Like bonsai, my learning is coming along slowly but surely  ;D

  
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 21, 2011, 02:52 PM
May I ask, you said you fertilize once a week, just curious, what about plants in large nursery containers that stay wet for a week.  Do you alternate then using plain water, then fertilize the next week?  

My plants in large nursery containers are generally in 100% inorganic mixes, so they tend to not stay wet for a week.  That being said, I for the most part water them once a day as well, and fertilize them along with my other trees once a week.  It's worked for me, and I've seen better results fertilizing once a week as I have been doing this year compared to once every two weeks like I did in prior years.  

The key to this watering and fertilizing regimen is the 100% inorganic mix though, and not overly over-potting trees.  In my opinion, you pretty much cannot overwater your trees if you use a completely inorganic mix.  It might be a pain to have to water more often, but this for me takes out the risk of overwatering trees and having to guess whether trees need to be rewatered or not.

By the way, I base my mix on Boon's mix, though I modify it using other components since akadama and lava aren't readily available/are much more expensive.  That being said, this spring I repotted a shimpaku that I first potted with Boon at a workshop two springs ago using his mix, and the root growth and overall health of the tree over the last two years were very impressive.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on July 21, 2011, 05:14 PM
Chrisl,

Do you have room to put a hoop house over your bonsai benches?  That's what I've done after seeing the same a number of different places.  Plastic goes up for winter, then down for the growing season.  It has worked well for me so far.  http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/plastic-goes-up/ (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/plastic-goes-up/)

Here's the one I went with, http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/prod1;gs1_high_tunnels_cold_frames;pg105158f.html (http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/prod1;gs1_high_tunnels_cold_frames;pg105158f.html)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 21, 2011, 07:23 PM
mcpesq817, Thanks for explaining your fertilization routine.  That helps a lot.  The maples I have, 2 are in the original nursery containers with organic soil.  I'd hate to repot those back into nursery pots using an organic mix now.  The other I have in a 24"x18"x3" flat, half organic/half inorganic.  (I did this before I knew better).  The two organics stay wet for quite awhile since they are in large containers.  The flat also stays wet too long.

Maybe I'll do what Coh/Chris suggested in another thread, take the 2 nursery plants, take them out of their pots, tease out the dead roots, repot in a larger container with a good draining soil.  Then bury the pots in the ground. 

And great to hear you use a variation of Boons mix with success!

John, that's a good suggestion.  I was thinking along similar lines:  http://www.menards.com/main/lawn-garden/greenhouses/flowerhouse-farmhouse-clear-portable-greenhouse/p-1339213-c-10122.htm (http://www.menards.com/main/lawn-garden/greenhouses/flowerhouse-farmhouse-clear-portable-greenhouse/p-1339213-c-10122.htm)  $384

I read your thread, and it was discussed that this cold frame wouldn't hold up to high winds and snow.  ( I live by the lake, so high winds are probable, as well, we had 3' of snow last winter.)  Plus, the solid end is just as expensive as the frame, and the actual door is more expensive.  But, I saw where you can buy extra rafters, and purlins.  But the costs are adding up...can you tell me what you bought and how you implemented it?  (I've never been to Ky before, what's winters like there?)

Thank You Guys for all the help!  I can't believe I make so many mistakes this spring.  Live and learn right?  :D
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on July 21, 2011, 07:37 PM
It needn't be the exact one, that's just what I used. I didn't purchase an end or door, just used some leftover plastic and outdoor plywood. I'm sure you can have success with just about anything similar, as long as it's fastened down properly/solidly.

Winters and wind aren't bad here. As Kirby suggested, extra Perkins and/or thicker pipes should stand up well. I do go out and sweep snow from the plastic.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on July 21, 2011, 09:23 PM
purlins, dude, purlins........
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on July 21, 2011, 09:24 PM
Stupid iPhone auto correct...
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on July 21, 2011, 10:08 PM
Oh, I see.  That'd save some serious money by doing it yourself on the ends.  It'll come down to what I can fit in the backyard. 
Thanks for telling me about Ky's winters...surprising, I was expecting it was bad there too.  Lucky You John!

And don't you just hate that auto correct sometimes?? LOL
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Alain Bertrand on July 22, 2011, 02:37 AM
This now about 10 years that I use only osmocote, that is to say that I am satisfied with it. There is nonetheless a serious drawback with it, which is the fact that increased watering results in dilution of the fertilizer, so when goal is maximum growth of young tree, I have noticed that if performs far better with a fairly large part of organics inside (for me, peat moss) , about 20% for pines, 40-50% for deciduous which in turn  brings some other inconveniences.

If I could, I would switch to fertilizer injectors (http://www.google.com/search?q=fertilizer+injector&hl=en&safe=off&client=ubuntu&hs=eD&channel=fs&prmd=ivns&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=RxkpTqrjGISdOuGYzeQK&ved=0CDAQrQQ) to get always the same fertilizer concentration regardless of the intensity of watering. BTW, it seems that you can get some fairly cheap in the US, here I haven't seen one under 400 €.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Treebeard55 on July 22, 2011, 10:37 AM
Chris,  I also suggest looking around first to see what you already have on hand. After all, the only one who has to be content with how your structure looks is you -- well, and your wife if you're married.  ;)

Stupid iPhone auto correct...

My computer's spell-check gets thoroughly confused at times since, in addition to English, I speak Spanish and bonsai. Must make its motherboard ache!
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Alain Bertrand on July 22, 2011, 12:02 PM
This now about 10 years that I use only osmocote,

It seems that I have answered a post on the second page without noticing that discussion had reached page 3.
Sorry.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on August 05, 2011, 01:16 PM
Chrisl,

Do you have room to put a hoop house over your bonsai benches?  That's what I've done after seeing the same a number of different places.  Plastic goes up for winter, then down for the growing season.  It has worked well for me so far.  http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/plastic-goes-up/ (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/plastic-goes-up/)

Here's the one I went with, http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/prod1;gs1_high_tunnels_cold_frames;pg105158f.html (http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/prod1;gs1_high_tunnels_cold_frames;pg105158f.html)

John,  I'm trying to find the room outback, and start on getting a cold frame bought.  I was wondering, do you also use any shade cloth over the cold frame to reduce the heat on sunny winter days?

Thanks!
Chris
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: pwk5017 on August 06, 2011, 12:17 AM
Hi Treebeard,

Not to hijack the thread, but I think it's worth adding more detail on my experience.  I have found the clumping to really only occur when using solid organic fertilizers.  I've gotten the crusty clumping using other soil mixes at the surface, but it doesn't seem as bad as when I used 100% turface where the clumping appears to extend much further down into the pot.  I noticed the issue when I saw that after heavily watering trees that I had in pond baskets, the turface further down in the pot was not changing color in some spots.  If they weren't in pond baskets I would, have assumed that everything was ok because the soil as a whole remained well-draining - it was just that I saw through the holes in the pond basket dry spots here and there lower down into the basket.  I don't get the clumping issue with straight turface when using inorganics (or liquid organics), but then again, I don't get it with other soil mixes using those types of fertilizers either.  

Other than that, I've had very good results with turface.  Put a maple in 100% turface and you'll be amazed at the root system you'll get.  I just caution people that you could end up with dry spots.

For what it's worth, I'm still working through my fertilizer regimen.  I use liquid organics and inorganics once a week, but given that my soil is 100% inorganic, I think it makes sense to have some kind of fertilizer that slowly releases nutrients into the soil with every watering.  I have moved from cakes to Bio-gold and Osmocote, but I'm think of moving to solely using Osmocote and the Miracle Gro solid fertilizer pellets, mostly for cost and convenience reasons.



I stopped using organic cakes because of this reason.  The cakes break down with watering 1-2 times a day and act as portland cement with turface being the aggregate--concrete!  I learned this lesson last summer and stopped using cakes.  I have been using miracle gro and osmocote. I fertilize my pines pretty heavily(soil surface is covered in pellets and double strength miracle growth every friday) and my maples a lil less( not as many pellets and miracle reg strength every 2 weeks) because my maples are in 60:40/70:30 inorganic to organic where as my pines are in 100% inorganic consisting of pumice, turface and perlite.  I have contradictory results from the person who posted "great root systems from maples in 100% turface".  I have maples growing in 100% inorganic right now and I have had many maples grown in 100% inorganic, but they are greatly outperformed in nebari development and overall growth by the maples grow in more organic soils.  Correct me if im wrong, but maples prefer more moisture.  They thrive in temperate deciduous forests, which receive copious amounts of rainfall AND have more loam and clay soils.   
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Treebeard55 on August 06, 2011, 07:31 PM
I first picked this up from Walter Pall, but I'm sure he's not the first to say it: soil composition, fertilizing practices, and watering practices all interact, so when you adjust one, keep an eye on the others. Then of course, there are the needs/preferences of a given species. (Sort of feels like trying to choreograph a ballet sometimes!)

Pwk5017, you're right about the native habitat of maples.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on August 07, 2011, 04:23 PM
John,  I'm trying to find the room outback, and start on getting a cold frame bought.  I was wondering, do you also use any shade cloth over the cold frame to reduce the heat on sunny winter days?

Thanks!
Chris


I don't use shade cloth during winter, I just leave the option to open the ends should it get too warm.

I do hang shade cloth from some of the hoops during summer though.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on August 07, 2011, 05:06 PM
I see.  That makes more sense John.  Thank You for the response.  Now at least I know what to do. 
And Thanks Again for the link to growers supply, I never would've found it.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on August 07, 2011, 11:54 PM
Pwk5017, add some akadama, it holds more moisture and gives the roots something to colonize. See Ebihara's trees if you want to see what maples can do in100% inorganic with organic fertlizer cakes.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on August 08, 2011, 12:16 AM
John, I've seen his maples, and all those cakes.  I too thought, based on an experiment this spring, that the maple in the dense organic soil developed far faster and healthier.  This in comparison to the other two, on in Miracle Gro soil, and in ground.  All young maple plants I got from the yard/same tree.  But I didn't fertilize any of the three...so maybe it does come down to just giving the plant what it needs...and organics simply have more nutrients than the soil or in ground/unfertilized.

Thanks for having me take a second look at those trees. 
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on August 08, 2011, 10:36 AM
I will defer, let me edit my last comment " please diregard the success of the professionals and don't waste the akadama, it may become rare in the future". Please post pictures as your trees develop, I am always looking for better ways to grow trees- ones that become good bonsai.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on August 08, 2011, 12:18 PM
I hope you didn't interpret my last response to disregarding professionals opinions/experiences.  My point was that you can achieve the same results using inorganic media, but with tons of fertilization.  That's why I'm here, and asking around what others use.  And yes, the majority of "professionals" I've talked to uses akadama and encouraged me to give it a try.  Which I plan to pick up a bag or two at the upcoming show. 

And will do John on the updates next summer after spring transplanting. 
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on August 11, 2011, 03:49 PM
Here are some better pics I hope
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on September 09, 2011, 10:59 AM
Chrisl,

Do you have room to put a hoop house over your bonsai benches?  That's what I've done after seeing the same a number of different places.  Plastic goes up for winter, then down for the growing season.  It has worked well for me so far.  http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/plastic-goes-up/ (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/plastic-goes-up/)

Here's the one I went with, http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/prod1;gs1_high_tunnels_cold_frames;pg105158f.html (http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/prod1;gs1_high_tunnels_cold_frames;pg105158f.html)

Matsu...or should I call you John?  I never know what to call you and keep going back and forth ;)

I wanted to Thank You again for suggesting this greenhouse!  I finally convinced my other half that I should have an overwinter greenhouse (since I spent so much on some new stock this year I just "had to" have some winter protection) lol.

I was going to go with a 6'X5' but that's just too small.  So I'm going to order next week, a 6'X10' model.  I would've liked the 8'X10', but the 6'W one already takes a 1/3 of the width of the yard, and the 10' long is over half the depth of the yard.  And I have two German Shepherd dogs I need to accomodate.  At least I'll be able to get one row of benches on each side on the 6'W model, and a somewhat narrow walkway.  8'W would've been much roomier.  But oh well, at least I can get one and I'll count my blessings because even with spousal approval, I still got lucky.  I had to go to the City of Chicago Permit office and ask about greenhouses on residential property:  anything permanent, needed a full permit process.  A lightweight greenhouse is ok as long as it's up only during winter....geesh! 

But anyway, I talked to Farmtech Growers Supply earlier this week and was told I didn't need to add any extra purlins for our weather here.  But I forgot to discuss the anchoring it down as our soil is not the firmest, but since this is a temp. setup, I can't put the anchors in cement.  So I hope the supplied anchors will work.  How did you deal with the with the entry way?  Putting up a solid sheet of plastic at the closed end will be easy, just curious about if you built a doorway? 

I did have one question Matsu, how exactly level does the planned site have to be?  The instructions say it has to be perfectly level, but my backyard has a slight slope and was just wondering esp. since you have a much longer model.

Thanks for your help Matsu!
Chris
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on September 09, 2011, 11:57 AM
Chris,
Go to Lowes and get two mobile home anchors like "Arrow Storage Building Ground Anchor Kit AK4", you only need two of the anchors, the tie to the center ridge with light rope or heavy twine. This will keep you from chasing your hoop house down the street in December when one of those gusts come up.  Like this:

http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/hoop-house-construction/ (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/hoop-house-construction/)

http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/storm-damage/ (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/storm-damage/)

Chris J is a friend of mine and I had some materials around so I bent up top rail for an 12' by 20' (or 30'?) poly house. we got it assemble and covered in a good day, on a Sunday I drove from Fayetteville to Otawa, we put up the polyhouse and afterwards I drove up to where I was living and working in South Dakota. The two one things I didn't have were a couple of bags of concrete and 4x4's to anchor the ends, or any other kind of anchors. I mentioned it to Chris, but pretty much in passing and took off. Well, the house wasn't anchored, it made it through the tough winter, but in the spring when the ends are opened it becomes a huge sail. So, now whenever I talk to folks about polyhouses I place EXTRA EMPHASIS on ensuring that they anchor their structures, if I had followed up with Chris, a simple anchoring would have saved him a lot of grief.

Anchor your structure.

John
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on September 09, 2011, 12:33 PM
Chris,
I am going back to the Maple discussion. I am not trying to be mean, a know it all, or contrary. But, your maples will never develop as bonsai unless you can really control the water they receive, the fertilizer they receive and the amount of oxygen that they receive. So, when your maples are bonsai and not just seedlings in pots (I have a few thousand of these in high organic mixed with perlite commercial mix (I would never use that muck from miracle-gro, it is almost anoxic)) I would strongly suggest that you put them in to an inorganic (or mostly inorganic) mix to develop them. WHy am I sure of this? Well, I have purchased a lot of down and out deciduous trees, typically imports, that were put into high organic mixes and they slowly decline, lose branches, etc. once we get them barerooted, placed into an appropriate soil mix and managed correctly they bounce back with a fury. Just a thought, John  
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Kajukid on September 09, 2011, 12:38 PM
Chrisl,
i see you put the tree in the ground...i want to that with 3 of my pines...what type of soil do you use? do you put plastic under the soil to be able to lift it out the ground easy, when its ready???
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on September 09, 2011, 12:49 PM
Kid,
no don't put plastic underneath, it will drown. Just plant it in the gound and dig it out when it is big enough. Have you met Jim Gremel yet? He is a fixture in bay area bonsai, one of the best in the US. He has thousands of trees in the ground, he moved from Berkely to Sebastapol to get enough space for his studio and to ut trees in the ground. He also is very willing to give you the information tht you will need to succeed.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Kajukid on September 09, 2011, 01:24 PM
okay thanks John..no I never heard of him before...do you know if he has a website or anything?
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: John Kirby on September 09, 2011, 01:26 PM
Google Jim Gremel
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: MatsuBonsai on September 09, 2011, 07:33 PM
I did have one question Matsu, how exactly level does the planned site have to be?  The instructions say it has to be perfectly level, but my backyard has a slight slope and was just wondering esp. since you have a much longer model.

My yard sloped away a little.  I put some timber down along the outside to give something to anchor the plastic, and leveled the pipes in the ground by running string and making some quick measurements.  Not perfect, but seems to be sufficient.

For a "door" I just rand 3 vertical strips of plastic, 2 on the side fixed, and 1 in the middle fixed at the top only, then smashed down with cinder blocks to "close" the door.

John Kirby's suggestion is good for the DIY project, if you've got the materials, knowledge, and time.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on September 09, 2011, 08:29 PM
First off, Wow! What a terrible mess that was....Chris, I sure hope you didn't loose much!  I truly feel for ya as I know how I'd feel if that was me.  If you're reading this, how did things turn out?  Hopefully broken pots instead of broken trees.  One is theoretically replaceable and the other isn't.   

Ok,  I now get your point John of needing to anchor this thing now.  I too hadn't thought that much about the anchoring part.   So Thanks for the link below and the reality check ;)

<Go to Lowes and get two mobile home anchors like "Arrow Storage Building Ground Anchor Kit AK4", you only need two of the anchors, the tie to the center ridge with light rope or heavy twine. This will keep you from chasing your hoop house down the street in December when one of those gusts come up. >

Those are perfect...30" augers right?  The specs don't exactly say it clearly. 
But it made me think to reexamined the .pdf's of the greenhouse.  I found the "Reference Document" which I had totally ignored. And there it was, to my delight, I can install the anchors inside!  Much better than the 3' setup, dog catastrophe just waiting to happen....which is why I blowing off the the anchor issue.   
These inside anchors are just plain awesome.

And John, I live just two blocks from Lake Michigan and it can get pretty gusty.  Also, I only have 2' of soil, then it's sand.  I just wanted you to know all the facts ;) Just to be sure, you still think I need only two centered augers for the whole 10'?  That'd also be fantastic if so! 



And regarding the JM's, I have already taken that advice for the 2 successful air layers I put in a  80-90 Turface:10-20 Peat.
The third air layer I decided to try 100% Tuface.  Seems the growing trend from what I've been reading from people I respect, total inorganic soil for both deciduous and conifers, or a min. of organic to retain moisture in hot environments. 

I have 6 maples all are thriving, all in diff. soils.  So I'm going to be real interested in the JM I put in 100% Turface and see how the growth rate will be between the various soils.   One good thing about using 100% inorganic soil is the need to watch the moisture level more closely.  So I'm spending more time with my bonsai's, watching and learning how they grow.  I'm enjoying them more. (Plus I finally finished putting urethane on my new cedar shelves and the contrast with the green trees is fantastic right now!)

Kajukid, I agree with John, I'm going to just dig them out, carefully.  I put them in the ground because at the time I didn't think I could get a greenhouse.  And I was worried about winter.  But if I'd known, I would've just kept them in their growing pots.
I plan on taking them out of the ground next spring for their first style.  They all have tons of branches, some at ground level.  So  I really need to clean them out, and set the basic structure.  And then, I'll put them back in the ground, and leave them there. I plan on a 'repot' every two years.  And at this point,  I can finally lay on my stomach to work on them.  I put some stepping stones in the bed so I can see the other sides.  And lastly Kajukid, you asked about soil,  I will be replanting them in probably a mix of Turface and grit instead of soil for the reasons mentioned above.

Matsu, Thanks!  I was hoping there's a little fudge factor.  My yard also just slopes away a little.  Good idea on using extra wood to level it out.  And that's a clever doorway too.  Thanks for sharing! 
Oh, and as you see above, I'm definitely going to use John's idea.  I'm extremely handy thank goodness! I'm going to need it soon lol
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on September 11, 2011, 01:45 AM
I've reconsidered the in ground tree's.  I'm going to leave them in the ground for a few years and only do the basic styling now.  Figured I'd have better success as I've been told they really don't start kicking in, adding girth to the trunks after the 2nd year in ground.   Besides, less I mess with the roots the better they will be.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Alain Bertrand on September 11, 2011, 03:29 AM
I have between 100 and 200 trees in the ground in my garden. Of course, they grow faster in the ground than in a pot if soil volume is really the limiting factor of growth, that is if you don't transplant them as often as you would do in a pot , that is every 2-3 years for a deciduous. If you do that, then the differential in growth speed becomes far less important, and even for small trees, those in a pot grow *much* faster, especially if you use a mix with more water retention  that you would do for a bonsai or if you can water several times a day with a nutritive solution. As I added  to this no-so-evident speed advantage the fact that tree in a pot have far better nebari, I came to stop growing new deciduous trees in the ground. I still do for pines above 5 years because if feel that pines don't loose their nebari quality in the ground as fast as deciduous.

For example, the following A. palmatum is a 10 year old cutting and look at its diameter, though it has never been in the ground I feel that it is enough growth for ten years. Buried nebari is great on this face and very very good on the other.   I                                  
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Chrisl on September 11, 2011, 11:18 AM
Thank You Alain for sharing your experience.  And I have to agree with you, that's an impressive trunk and nebari for a 10 y/o Trident.  I have one JM in a 18"x24" and it's developing some great nebari too. 
You said "If you use a mix with more water retention", don't you mean less water retention so one can "can water several times a day with a nutritive solution"
I'm going to repot my JM's into 100% inorganic this next spring to try your suggestion.  An aggressive feed regimin.

Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
Post by: Alain Bertrand on September 11, 2011, 12:49 PM
This is not a trident but a  japanese mapple, momiji. As they tend to grow a little bit slower than the tridents, I am all the more happy with it.

Sorry for being unclear, but I wanted to say that to get maximum growth one have to use either a mix with more retention that is give plenty of water to the tree with one 's watering  frequency (once a day in my case)  or a mix with low retention but in that case, you must find a way to water  it with a fertilizing solution (because if more water means diluting the fert it is better than no water at all but still far from being optimal).

I can see that very clearly on my pines : I have pines (JBP, JRP, scots) in the same pots with either 100% lava rock or 20% neutralized peat moss 80% lava rock and same fert (oscomote 6 g/L substrate) and one watering at most a day. The formers hardly make chandlers longer than 35cm while the latters are always between 40 and 60 cm. Another difference, though is that the latters do experience root rot in spring if I water too much while the formers never.  World is imperfect ;)