Soil mix on a budget

Messages
111
Reaction score
36
Location
Mid Tennessee
USDA Zone
7
Ok so without getting to far into soil wars I would like to get some soon but I'm on a budget. "I've only got $20 in my pocket". I've been reading a little ablot lava rock and akadama but those are pretty expensive in my area (middle Tennessee, USA 7A). You guys have any suggestions for a N00b that wants to desperately get into the hobby but wants to do it right? Thanks for the patience and help and sure you see posts like this every day.
 

DougB

Chumono
Messages
809
Reaction score
376
Location
Sandhills of NC
USDA Zone
8A
First thing is to talk to your club members. Many will be using locally obtained materials or if you have just a couple of trees may even give you some bonsai soil. Secondly this is not the time to be repotting except for tropicals.

Very coarse builders sand or granite chicken grit are pretty inexpensive. Napa 8822 Oil (floor) Dry or Dry Stall are inexpensive. And cactus soil is also pretty inexpensive for what little you would use. Equal parts of 1 and 2 and not much of 3 depending on your species.

Hope this helps without going into alot of detail. Here is a link to some pretty good info on soil at the TBS Web Site.
 

0soyoung

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,053
Reaction score
9,526
Location
Anacortes, WA (AHS heat zone 1)
USDA Zone
8b
Turface MVP would meet your present need - use Osmocote Plus as fert (do not put shit in Turface). It may not be readily available where you are, so look for Mule Mix - pretty much the same stuff (calcined clay). You want a particle size around 2 millimeters or about 10 mesh (larger sizes will require more frequent watering).
 
Messages
111
Reaction score
36
Location
Mid Tennessee
USDA Zone
7
Yeah I guess
First thing is to talk to your club members.
this is not the time to be repotting except for tropicals.
.
I haven't reached out to the club in my area yet. It's in the State's capital and I've yet to get to one of their bi monthly meetings.

Yeah I've been wanting to do an azalea but as you said it's not really the right time to repot so I may just get one from my local nursery and let it grow in its provided pot till next spring.
 

0soyoung

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,053
Reaction score
9,526
Location
Anacortes, WA (AHS heat zone 1)
USDA Zone
8b
Secondly this is not the time to be repotting except for tropicals.
Actually this is a pretty good time for repotting most conifers, quince, rhododendrons (including azaleas) IF temperatures are below 95F and relative humidity is higher than about 50%.
 

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,505
Reaction score
11,955
Location
Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
USDA Zone
6B
It won't break down into mush after a while?
Not in my experience, though I have always sifted mine well, and I haven't left anything in it for more that one year, so far.
I also like one called Hoffman's Bonsai Soil Mix. My local garden center has it for $11 per bag. The bags aren't huge though, 2 qts I think...don't know why they measure soil mix in a liquid measurement, but it's good stuff.
Amazon has it from many sellers, for many prices.
 

Dav4

Drop Branch Murphy
Messages
10,486
Reaction score
18,662
Location
North Georgia/lived in MA until 2009
USDA Zone
7b
Turface MVP would meet your present need - use Osmocote Plus as fert (do not put shit in Turface). It may not be readily available where you are, so look for Mule Mix - pretty much the same stuff (calcined clay). You want a particle size around 2 millimeters or about 10 mesh (larger sizes will require more frequent watering).
I second the Turface or Mule mix and would add that sifted composted pine bark (from soil conditioner) could be added to the clay aggregate in varying amounts depending on what you're planting in it.
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,237
Reaction score
11,346
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
All of this really depends on how many trees you're potting/repotting. We can give you all kinds of ingredients to use in bulk, but if you've got fewer than six or seven trees, bulk is a waste of money for the most part. Or at least a big investment upfront for a PILE of soil that won't be used.

If you're potting/repotting five trees or less, investing your $ in prepared soil from a good bonsai nursery might be a better solution.

BTW, I made soil for years using composted pine bark. Found sifting it actually makes it LESS effective, since the screen busts up larger particles into dust.
 

0soyoung

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,053
Reaction score
9,526
Location
Anacortes, WA (AHS heat zone 1)
USDA Zone
8b
So I could put the azalea on the back burner and work with a juniper instead
I am saying you can repot junipers now as well a azaleas or firs, spruce or most pines, if you have any. If you don't want to repot an azalea now, 'put the azalea on the back burner' as you say. I do think, however, that an azalea is the easiest to start with if you don't have much experience. Azaleas form fine hairy root pads. You can cut down it dimensions, even cut wedges of it away - just don't start ripping it away with a root hook.
 
Last edited:

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,505
Reaction score
11,955
Location
Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
USDA Zone
6B
What do you suggest for a sifter? I could probably get one at Wal-Mart or something like that?
I bought mine online, bonsaioutlet.com I think. It comes with a few different screens for sifting large or small particulates.
Before I had that I used homemade one that I made from an old window screen.
The window screen is too fine though, I used a bamboo skewer to make slightly larger holes.
 

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,505
Reaction score
11,955
Location
Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
USDA Zone
6B
guys have any suggestions for a N00b that wants to desperately get into the hobby but wants to do it right?
Books. Read bonsai books.
And read here on Bnut.
Watch Youtube videos, lots of great ones out there.... Graham Potter's videos were an addiction of mine for a while, I wish he'd post more...can't get enough.
Also, Bonsai Empire has many good ones.
Bjorn's series is also cool.
There are too many good ones to mention them all.
 

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,505
Reaction score
11,955
Location
Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
USDA Zone
6B
Sifting 400 lbs of granite through those cute little round handheld screens is A LOT of fun.:p
Someone on this forum posted a big ass homemade sifter before...it was great.
If I recall, it was a large screen with a wood frame, attached to an electric reciprocating saw, mounted above a wheel barrow...
Can't remember who it was tho.
 
Messages
111
Reaction score
36
Location
Mid Tennessee
USDA Zone
7
Books. Read bonsai books.
And read here on Bnut.
Watch Youtube videos, lots of great ones out there.... Graham Potter's videos were an addiction of mine for a while, I wish he'd post more...can't get enough.
Also, Bonsai Empire has many good ones.
Bjorn's series is also cool.
There are too many good ones to mention them all.
Oh yeah I've been reading and watching for about a year. OrlandoBonsaiTV and Nigel Saunders are both really good too.
 

Top Bottom