Be careful with Turface!

bonhe

Masterpiece
Messages
3,618
Reaction score
6,763
Location
Riverside, CA
USDA Zone
11
I like to warn you that your tree might get inadequate water status with turface.
1st pic: before water
2nd pic: after water, soil looks wet
3rd pic: oops, 0.4cm beneath (circle area) still dry!!
Bonhe
 

Attachments

Smoke

Ignore-Amus
Messages
11,563
Reaction score
19,733
Location
Fresno, CA
USDA Zone
9
Personally, I think this stuff is the Devil's scourage. I don't find this stuff even adaquate as a filler material.

Just an opinion...
 

Rick Moquin

Omono
Messages
1,245
Reaction score
8
Location
Dartmouth, NS Canada
USDA Zone
6a
I like to warn you that your tree might get inadequate water status with turface.
1st pic: before water
2nd pic: after water, soil looks wet
3rd pic: oops, 0.4cm beneath (circle area) still dry!!
Bonhe
Thanks for the heads up. Improper watering technique!!!
 

Walter Pall

Masterpiece
Messages
2,532
Reaction score
12,062
Location
south of Munich, Germany
USDA Zone
7b
No wonder that it is dry if you don't water enough. With modern substrates there is no such thing as careful and individual watering. You pour water over everything until it is dripping wet. Saves many hours of time and the trees are quite happy.
 
Last edited:

Rick Moquin

Omono
Messages
1,245
Reaction score
8
Location
Dartmouth, NS Canada
USDA Zone
6a
Personally, I think this stuff is the Devil's scourage. I don't find this stuff even adaquate as a filler material.

Just an opinion...
... to some it is probably the only suitable alternative, I never said the best, just an alternative. As mentioned above improper watering techniques are practiced here and hence dried areas. A properly watered tree will not show these signs, and that is basic bonsai 101.
 

banzaibonsai

Seedling
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Location
east coast
USDA Zone
7
You pour water over everything until it is dripping wet. Saves many hours of time and the trees are quite happy.
Thats what I do also, and my trees are quite happy in turface/lava mix! I have never had problems with turface except in wet winters it almost holds too much water.
 

bonhe

Masterpiece
Messages
3,618
Reaction score
6,763
Location
Riverside, CA
USDA Zone
11
Thanks for all responses. I don't think I have a poor water technique ;) . The reason I said so is that all of KBP planted into this mix don't show the sign of dehydration so far. However, I have good eyes to recognize the problem in its earliest stage ;) . My theory is that I used lot of small size turface (its size is about 1/16") for these small colanders, and those small particles have water resistant capacity. With the bigger size of turface, I don't have problem like this. Bonhe
 

emorrin

Sapling
Messages
42
Reaction score
0
Location
Plainfield,IL
USDA Zone
5B
What you need to do is rake the surface of the Turface from time to time. The top can get crusty for whatever reasons (i.e. organic fertilizers, hard water deposits, etc.) and not allow the water to properly penetrate, kind of like what happens with moss in a sense.

I just gently stir up the top every couple of weeks with a chop stick. The water will run through the soil properly then.
 

Rick Moquin

Omono
Messages
1,245
Reaction score
8
Location
Dartmouth, NS Canada
USDA Zone
6a
Thanks for all responses. I don't think I have a poor water technique ;) . The reason I said so is that all of KBP planted into this mix don't show the sign of dehydration so far. However, I have good eyes to recognize the problem in its earliest stage ;) . My theory is that I used lot of small size turface (its size is about 1/16") for these small colanders, and those small particles have water resistant capacity. With the bigger size of turface, I don't have problem like this. Bonhe
I am sorry to burst your bubble, if you have dry spots regardless of particle size, you are watering incorrectly period. This phenomine is not limited to turface, but any substrate watered incorrectly. dble period..
 

Rick Moquin

Omono
Messages
1,245
Reaction score
8
Location
Dartmouth, NS Canada
USDA Zone
6a
Until you admit defeat, I'll not provide you with the answer. There is a way to illimenate this occurance "EMORIN" mentioned one aspect, there is more to it than just watering the tree. BTW submersion is not the answer.
 

Klytus

Omono
Messages
1,305
Reaction score
22
Location
Singing Pines Tyneside-England
USDA Zone
8a
A dribble from a corroded brass rose of a watering can could be the problem.

I noticed a good flow of water is more satisfying than angling the can to get the single remaining hole to pass more.
 

bonhe

Masterpiece
Messages
3,618
Reaction score
6,763
Location
Riverside, CA
USDA Zone
11
What you need to do is rake the surface of the Turface from time to time. The top can get crusty for whatever reasons (i.e. organic fertilizers, hard water deposits, etc.) and not allow the water to properly penetrate, kind of like what happens with moss in a sense.

I just gently stir up the top every couple of weeks with a chop stick. The water will run through the soil properly then.
Hi Emorrin, your thought are same as mine. Bonhe
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,356
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
EMorrin is quite correct. The "crusting" problem is extremely common here on the East coast in the summer. The problem begins as algae grows on the surface and in between soil particles. Sometimes it's noticeable, sometimes not. As the sun dries the soil surface, it kills the algae, which then dries out and seals the spaces between the particles. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM WITH FINE SOIL PARTICLES. Water from above will not penetrate.

Simply scratching or stirring the top inch of soil will loosen the grains and allow water to pass through. Failure to do this may result in the death of your tree...
 

pauldogx

Mame
Messages
137
Reaction score
0
Location
Eastern PA USA
USDA Zone
6b
I can concur with rockm---I have noticed the same problem here in Eastern Pa. I do as the others have mentioned--every couple of days I stir up the surface with a chop stick. You can see it happen---when you first start to water the water starts to be repelled from the surface.
 

Rick Moquin

Omono
Messages
1,245
Reaction score
8
Location
Dartmouth, NS Canada
USDA Zone
6a
Crusting is only part of the problem. Allot of practitioners are bogged down with the watering requirements of their trees. I say this in all confidence as we read it daily that for whatever reason substrates are modified, bigger pots are used etc... to meet our demanding schedules, whilst the solution is much simpler than we think.

For folks that water twice a day, this should not take more than 2 x 30 minutes if done properly, morning and night. If your substrate requires a more frequent schedule, then by all means vary its composition to meet your growing climate. The pictures provided were the result of improper watering not the components. If you can't give your trees an hour of attention daily, then perhaps it is time to pursue a different hobby (I hate that word). Seriously now, if you cannot properly water your trees daily, then how do you expect to look after the maintenance requirement of your trees outside of watering? Come on now, this is a no brainer.

Many have written how to properly water in the past and I shall echo their recommendations once again. Prior to watering the soil needs to be primed. If one was just to water their trees, regardless how well the mix drains, you will set up tiny streams in your soil where water will take the apth of least resistance and out the bottom, leaving dry spots as depicted above. The soil is primed by applying a small coating to the surface and allowed to penetrate and soak. Think of this as a first kiss not dissimilar to kissing a girl after a first date. As that kiss was extremely important to be done correctly, so is the introduction of water to the soil surface, thus priming it.

Priming the soil can be done in several ways, it is important to moisten not wet the soil. This can be accomplished by either a quick sweep with a watering rosette, or what I prefer a mister. Just getting the surface damp and allowed to soak for 5 or 10 minutes, now go take your shower. I prefer a mister (available at Lee Valley (photos attached)) because it does the job admirabvly well of getting the surface just damp. After your shower, give your trees a watering, not too much as we still do not want to set up litle rivers in our substrate, now go have breakfast. After breakfast, armed with your rosette, drown your trees foliage and all, for 5 minutes or so. Your trees are well watered. Don't worry about drowning them if your soil is what it is suppose to be, you have only given your trees roots and oxygen shower. It is the moisture retaining component (s) of your substrate that will replace moisture loss through perspiration throughout the day, not the morning watering. Trees are not on IVs and will only replenish fluid loss as they get thirsty.

If you still can't accomplish this, then set up an irrigation system, more to follow.
 

Attachments

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,356
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
True enough on the preparation for watering, however, the crusting condition is very very common here in the humid middle Atlantic states and even S.E. US. Even if you do the "prewatering" thing, it won't help if you have a crusting problem.

The pictures provided are far from a clear cut picture of inadequate watering.

I've been watering for more than 17 years now and still have to watch out for this. I've nearly lost trees in the last five years as I've had exactly the same thing happen as is pictured here. Sometimes it is VERY hard to detect and can happen almost overnight, particularly if an extended rainy period is followed by a sharp prolonged dry spell. If the air is sharply less humid and there is a dry wind--this condition is sure to follow...
 

Rick Moquin

Omono
Messages
1,245
Reaction score
8
Location
Dartmouth, NS Canada
USDA Zone
6a
True the crusting is part of the problem, what is also part of the problem is improper care and watering. In my post I believe I have addressed some of the issues as it is not related to "Turface" perse, but any substrate.

I know you have read in the past of folks that just can't meet watering req'ts of their trees etc... and I have also curtly addresses that comment as well.

I like to warn you that your tree might get inadequate water status with turface.

That is what my discussion is based on, Bohne's statement which IMHO is totally inaccurate as we know it will occur elsewhere as well and is exacerbated as component sizes become larger.
 
Last edited:

bonhe

Masterpiece
Messages
3,618
Reaction score
6,763
Location
Riverside, CA
USDA Zone
11
EMorrin is quite correct. The "crusting" problem is extremely common here on the East coast in the summer. The problem begins as algae grows on the surface and in between soil particles. Sometimes it's noticeable, sometimes not. As the sun dries the soil surface, it kills the algae, which then dries out and seals the spaces between the particles. THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM WITH FINE SOIL PARTICLES. Water from above will not penetrate.

Simply scratching or stirring the top inch of soil will loosen the grains and allow water to pass through. Failure to do this may result in the death of your tree...
I can concur with rockm---I have noticed the same problem here in Eastern Pa. I do as the others have mentioned--every couple of days I stir up the surface with a chop stick. You can see it happen---when you first start to water the water starts to be repelled from the surface.
Thanks Rockm and Pauldogx. We are in the same boat :) Yes, bonsai hobbist needs to be well alert to recognize the problem ASAP. That's why I started this thread, so other people can learn from it. We hate to loose our precious trees.
Bonhe
 
Top Bottom