Suitable grit for soil...

Chub

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Was looking to make my own soil and do it as cheap as possible. I think I found the first part, basically it's bits of iron slag, adirondack granite, coal, and coarse river sand. It's from an old works site along upper Hudson river. There was plenty of things growing in it, and I think it looks pretty good so that's a plus.
 

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Smoke

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Buy a giant bag of potting soil and a couple bags of play sand. Mix 50/50 and anything will grow like crazy in that. Put a thin layer of your heavy iron slag over it to disguise it ( that way you don't have to argue with everyone as to your soil mix which is anal retentive anyway) and no one will be the wiser. The topping will keep the water from blowing out your lighter soil when watering.


Cheap and effective.
 

rockm

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I would be very careful using play sand an potting soil in a climate that gets tough winters...
 

jk_lewis

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I would be very careful using play sand an potting soil in a climate that gets tough winters...
Me too. I'd also be careful of the "slag" if that means mining waste. Some things may grow in slag. Many other may not. And, life in a pot is much different than lif in he great outdoors -- for a tee.

"Cheap as possible" often is a good idea, but the soil you use for bonsai is what give it stability, health -- and life.

A suitable grit would include crushed granite, very coarse river sand. and even a baked clay like Turface. The organic material should also be free of a lot of fine-grained "stuff" -- like peat. Composed pine bark is ideal.

None of that is expensive.
 

Bill S

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Chub look for your local building supply store and get some 00 sandblasting sand, or even glass bead to make it lighter. Not sure if the glass bead would come other than black, but black wouldn't be too bad. Not very expensive for that stuff.

If the materials you are looking at there have been in running water, I would think most of the nasties have been long washed away. Could cull the slag with a magnet leaving the more natural stuff, thinking though that the coal maybe the worst part of it.
 

rockm

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"Was looking to make my own soil and do it as cheap as possible. "

While I understand the sentiment, in practice this can be a very bad thing to do.

Using bad "found" soil can be costly in the way of dead trees. Given its industrial history, soil from along river beds in the N.Eastern US should be considered contaminated from the outset and THEN proven to be safe. That's especially true of old "work site" soil.

http://www.epa.gov/superfund/accomp/success/hudson.htm

If you want to use this stuff, I would test it out FOR AT LEAST A YEAR on a plant you don't want before putting a plant of any value in it... . Unless you know the history of what kind of work was done on the site, there might be some impact on whoever may be working with the soil.
 
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Bill S

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Ya good ole G.E., good point rock, the bigger issue maybe you handling the stuff Chub. Do you know what was the process that left your find?


Side bar to the GE thing, can you believe they started dredging up the pcb's with out coffer damming, and could quite understand why the pcbs, and coal tar was being spread out in the river all anew. Maybe they though nobody was looking.:rolleyes:
 

Chub

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If the materials you are looking at there have been in running water, I would think most of the nasties have been long washed away. Could cull the slag with a magnet leaving the more natural stuff, thinking though that the coal maybe the worst part of it.
This stuff is actually from the Sacandaga River/Hudson confluence. Not the polluted part of the Hudson everyone thinks about when you say "Hudson River." The river is still wild up there and not dammed up. Been getting washed over by fast moving rapids since the early 1900's or earlier, I would say that makes it clean..lol. Just bought 1/4" wire mesh and I'm going to sift all the big stuff out. On a side note...I had a friend that used to sell Bonsai at his greenhouse and he used this stuff.




On the PCB dredging. IMO they should just let it stay put. All this going to do is stir it up and get it back floating around in the water again. It's just nuts.
 
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Chub

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Hmmm.... Since you mentioned weight, it just dawned on me that it is quite light. So I Just did a little research It was a textile mill that was demolishished in 1923, so it's not iron slag. Basically it makes up the little beach at an Outfitter where lots of people hang out/ swim and whitewater kayak all summer.

An interesting link to the ruins with pics. Other than a wall along the river, you would never know anything was ever there, everything is prety much over grown. I'm up there just about every weekend in the Summer and I never knew there was a dam there at one point. I've been through the remains they are pretty cool. I always think of all the people that worked there through out it's history.
http://www.uer.ca/locations/show.asp?locid=24692
 
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xghostx

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Check out
John Deere Landscapes
12 Walker Way, Albany, NY 12205
They carry turface
or
Grassland Equipment/Irrigation
892 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-1698
They carry terragreen
 

Chub

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Check out
John Deere Landscapes
12 Walker Way, Albany, NY 12205
They carry turface
or
Grassland Equipment/Irrigation
892 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-1698
They carry terragreen
Thanks.....Right down the road.
 
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try it, just not on anything important... and see what happens... If possible try growing two trees one in normal, and the other in your hopeful substitute, so you have a control to compare against...
 

Chub

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Going to put a mulberry in it tomorrow. I mixed it roughly 3 to 1 with peat, and added a little vermiculite. Did a test with a spare pot I had, it drained well..... I'm thinking a lot of the material is coal cinder and coal bits as it is quite light.
 

kobiespa

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Buy a giant bag of potting soil and a couple bags of play sand. Mix 50/50 and anything will grow like crazy in that. Put a thin layer of your heavy iron slag over it to disguise it ( that way you don't have to argue with everyone as to your soil mix which is anal retentive anyway) and no one will be the wiser. The topping will keep the water from blowing out your lighter soil when watering.


Cheap and effective.
Smoke,

I'm with you on potting soil. Koreshoff's soil mix contains garden soil, sand and humus. I wonder why and at what point in modern bonsai timeline did soil mixes shifted to little or no organics and mostly akadama/turface. I suppose what zone you live in and the type of tree has a huge factor. I guess I'm all for using less water, easier availability to soil ingredients and saving money.
 

rockm

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"I suppose what zone you live in and the type of tree has a huge factor"

Darn right. Use potting soil or garden soil on outdoor trees here in the Mid-Atlantic states and you will have dead sticks within six months,

"I wonder why and at what point in modern bonsai timeline did soil mixes shifted to little or no organics and mostly akadama/turface. "

About the time people discovered that free draining soils are a key to bonsai. The light went on in the late 80's early 90's when folks took a look at the akadama and other volcanic porous soils the Japanese had always used and saw drainage was the heart and soil of a good bonsai soil.
 

daveskib

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I buy the brand called Gran-i-grit.It comes in a 50 lb bag and it's pretty cheap. I get it at Southern States as well as pumice called Dry-Stall.
 

jason biggs

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i would buy river sand [the stoney type not the playsand as the drainage is not as good],2nd choice is the sand from swimming pool filters [the particles are a wee bit small however]
 
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