Soil mix

flor1

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I'm trying to come up with a reasonably priced soil mix with Accadamia at $42.00 a bag gets pretty expensive quickly. I've trie'd turface but not sold on it yet. Located in N. Georgia I can go to the monistary if I have to but would like to come up with a different plan if possible. Thanks for any input.
 

misfit11

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Harry Harrington on his website talks about using kitty litter as bonsai soil in place of akadama. Although I haven't tried it myself, he swears by it and he has the specimen trees to back up his claims. The link to the article is here: http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm .

You might need to do some searching for the brands that he recommends.

Hope this helps. :)
 

FrankP999

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I would not use cat litter. The brands in the mentioned article are sold abroad not in the USA.

I have used turface/bark/grit mixture sucessfully in Georgia. I use crushed granite for grit from a farm store (GraniGrit for chickens). If you use chicken grit be careful as some is crushed oyster shell which is not pH neutral.

I made the trek to the Monastery and bought akadama and lava. I am trying a mix of akadama/lava/pumice for the first time this year. The akadama was $27/bag.

Frank
 
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roelex14

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i finally found a source for turface... finally
 
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TheSteve

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I've been using Oil Dri AND Walmart brand cat litter for a couple of years. I 've put freshly collected trees, nursery trees, repotted trees etc in it with out a problem. It's been frozen at a stretch long enough for me to worry abut the tree and not broken down. I can't say I've lost anything to it. The weeds love it too.

One note, there appears to be two different kinds of walmart kitty litter. One breaks down quickly the other doesn't.
 

IIIROYIII

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I'm in atlanta and using the same mix as frank for the last two years. akadama/lava/pumice
if you don't want to go to the monastery call steve at plant city in cleveland ga. His prices may be a bit higher for soil but it may save you a drive. He has much better stock than the monastery.
Chris
 

rockm

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"I've been using Oil Dri AND Walmart brand cat litter for a couple of years."

Two or three years really isn't enough time to speculate on suitability. Turface can break down in four depending on local conditions. These two products are not real suitable for bonsai soil. They're at best, temporary substitutes until one can find better material.
 

Bill S

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If you really can't find the "typical " ingredients, and really need it to be cheap, try large caliber sandblasting sand and composted pine bark. There are too many reported problems with kitty litter to take the risk. A bag of each shouldn't cost much more than $10.00. Adding turface to that mix makes it better for about another $15. Proven results, and no real risk. Haydite will reduce the weight, I think we paid about $3/ 45 gal barrel full, use the haydite to replace the sand blasting sand. For about $20 you can get many gallons of soil mix that has a great track record. Is the $15 saved worth it???
 

TheSteve

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Rock I was simply addressing the "breaks down in three days" part. Not sure what I'm doing differently but it seems to be working.
 

jk_lewis

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Granite grit (for chickens or turkeys) is probably a better substitute than sand blasting sand -- even the larger grain sizes. There may be stuff in the sand blastig sand you wouldn't want to handle. It's not meant to be used for anything but sand blasting.
 

TheSteve

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The point of using akadama, turface, kitty litter, whatever is to have someting that retains moisture with out being "wet". Pumice and lava retain water with their little air pockets. If your going to use materials like sand blasting material (which is made of several different things so be careful) or chicken grit you might as well just use some gravel from the driveway. Aside from size (the gravel being facetious) it amounts to the same thing.
 

Bill S

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jkl sand blasting sand is full of SAND, it's made of silica, sometimes you get glass beads, it is used as a projectile to forcefully remove stuff, only the stuff that gets blasted off would be a problem, so use it out of the bag, not sweep it up. If it's bad for plants can you imagine what it must do to all the people that go to the beach.:rolleyes: The sand I'm talking is about 1/8" Not that I am disagreeing about the grits usefullness, but be carefull there because many of those grits as has been said before contain oyster shell, that wouldn't be good in your mix.

Yes I know silica isn't good to breath, neither is sphagnum moss, but lots of people use it for bonsai, rooting hormones are carcinogenic, fertilizer if used improperly can do damage, starting to see what I'm getting at, jeez water can kill ya too, do you stop using it on bonsai???

Steve, have you ever see how long sand can stay wet??? The bigger stuff drains pretty well, even the small grain sand will"open up" clay based soils so although it isn't optimal it's still pretty useable if needed. I think too that freezing may play a part in the breakdown more so than a few days in water.
 

TheSteve

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That was my point Bill. This stuff has frozen. Many times. In the end it's the growers call but I'm just pointing out my own experiences with kitty litter/oil dri. There may have been a change in the process I haven't bought any this year.
 

Bill S

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Steve, I guess I took for Assumed, seeing your location that you probably didn't freeze, my bad. Good you found one that works, it's just that you see the generic terms for these thrown around, and you know someone is going to get the junk stuff, because there are so many of these products out there.

Guess my point was that for not very much more you can track down truely good materials to use for soil. as my post above for about 20-25 bucks you can make up about 45 gallons. Lets see 45 x 25 = $1125.00 could drive a long way, or pay a lot of shipping charges for that kind of dough. Some might say I don't need that kind of quantity, but you will. Even if you don't, paying $25.00 plus shipping for someones soil mix is almost insurance against ruining a tree with "cheap" componants that could/ would, or will turn to mush.

I wouldn't want to trust even new trees to something that might work, might not. Wasting time is about as important as wasting money for me.

Did you end up changing components because of the oil dry stuff or ????

Bill
 

TheSteve

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No I experiment with different things all the time. This year is just a "use up all the piles laying around" year.
 

rockm

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"Rock I was simply addressing the "breaks down in three days" part. Not sure what I'm doing differently but it seems to be working."

Might be working where you live, but get back to me in five years...

The issue isn't one, two three, or five freezes during the winter, but PROLONGED freezing, weeks, months, along with intermittent wet--snow melt, rain, etc. That kind of long freeze accompanied by a lot of moisture will turn both kitty litter and other low fired components to mush.

Not sure what kind of freezing you get in SW Wash., but here in Va. --Zone 7--we can get prolonged periods of single digit, even sub zero freezes in Jan. Feb. Soil in pots freezes through by mid-Jan. and can stay that way until mid-March under mulch. I've used lower fired soil components that completely collapsed in the spring following those conditions. Mushy,muddy soil at repotting time means you have a real problem brewing...

Using gravel (or whatever) as a substitute for crushed granite is also unsuitable. Crushed granite used for poultry is not only inert (doesn't dissolve in water --limestone and other stone will), it is STERILE. Both attributes are important. Plain old gravel can contain road salt, chemicals (oil, antifreeze, or whatever has leached into the pile over the years).

Skimping on soil may make some folks feel like they're innovators, but innovation carries a price. They usually pay it along the way at some point...
 

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