Where do you find your soil?

Oceanman113

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Tried to find this topic, but couldn’t find an answer. If this has been discussed (which I bet it has) then I apologize.
Where do you guys buy your soil components?
At first I bought those expensive “bonsai soil” packs, but the more trees I get or make the more I look for cheaper options. I‘ve started making my own soil. 10% Course Sand, 30% akadama, 30% pumice. I mix it with 30% fox farms ocean soil and peat moss or orchid bark. Some of those ingredients are pricy. Has anyone found a good place to stock up? I heard decomposed granite is good also. This is mostly for evergreens and elms.
 

CoreSeverin

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So what I do is I go to the auto parts store and they have big bags of Diatomaceous Earth, they sell it as being used to clean oil spills. Most of it that I have found is made by a company called EP minerals. They have other material that is sold as oil cleaner as well so be sure to check the back of the bag and it will say exactly what is in it.
 

hemmy

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Tried to find this topic, but couldn’t find an answer. If this has been discussed (which I bet it has) then I apologize.
Where do you guys buy your soil components?
At first I bought those expensive “bonsai soil” packs, but the more trees I get or make the more I look for cheaper options. I‘ve started making my own soil. 10% Course Sand, 30% akadama, 30% pumice. I mix it with 30% fox farms ocean soil and peat moss or orchid bark. Some of those ingredients are pricy. Has anyone found a good place to stock up? I heard decomposed granite is good also. This is mostly for evergreens and elms.
It will help to post your approximate location. Bulk pumice and scoria are cheap in the western US and harder to find moving east. In the east, Dry Stall has a pumice product for the horse world. It been posted that some crush their own scoria from larger landscape pieces. Gran-I-grit was a poultry forage made from granite. Expanded shale can be a cheap filler for prebonsai. Bonsai Tonight reportedly had a pallet drop ship option for pumice and akadama.

Also check the “Resources” section for the ‘Intro Soil Physics’ and ‘inorganic reference sheet’ docs.
 

Potawatomi13

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Yard supply and recycling place. Buy pumice by bucket or bag;).
 

Oceanman113

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So what I do is I go to the auto parts store and they have big bags of Diatomaceous Earth, they sell it as being used to clean oil spills. Most of it that I have found is made by a company called EP minerals. They have other material that is sold as oil cleaner as well so be sure to check the back of the bag and it will say exactly what is in it.
Thank you!
 

Oceanman113

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It will help to post your approximate location. Bulk pumice and scoria are cheap in the western US and harder to find moving east. In the east, Dry Stall has a pumice product for the horse world. It been posted that some crush their own scoria from larger landscape pieces. Gran-I-grit was a poultry forage made from granite. Expanded shale can be a cheap filler for prebonsai. Bonsai Tonight reportedly had a pallet drop ship option for pumice and akadama.

Also check the “Resources” section for the ‘Intro Soil Physics’ and ‘inorganic reference sheet’ docs.
Excellent! Thank you for all that information. I’m in New Jersey.
 

Oceanman113

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I use cactus mix soil & 50% perlite, get it at Home Depot.
Thanks for answering, do you use this mix for a certain species or all around mix. I’ve used the cactus mix and perlite on some pre-bonsai-but worry about root rot on the older trees, is it enough drainage? Thanks!
 

River's Edge

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Tried to find this topic, but couldn’t find an answer. If this has been discussed (which I bet it has) then I apologize.
Where do you guys buy your soil components?
At first I bought those expensive “bonsai soil” packs, but the more trees I get or make the more I look for cheaper options. I‘ve started making my own soil. 10% Course Sand, 30% akadama, 30% pumice. I mix it with 30% fox farms ocean soil and peat moss or orchid bark. Some of those ingredients are pricy. Has anyone found a good place to stock up? I heard decomposed granite is good also. This is mostly for evergreens and elms.
I think the best responses for your situation will come from those in your neck of the woods. gif you fill out your profile for location and climatic zone then advice will be more in tune with your situation.
 

Paradox

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I’m in New Jersey. Where are you approximately? Curious if it’s all around me also and I’m not seeing it. Thanks!

He is in the Azores where lava and pumice are in the area there. You can see his location under his name.

Please put your location on your profile so people do not have to keep asking you.
We will not remember that you posted in this thread that you are from NJ.

I am from Long Island, NY (you can see that under my name)
I get most of my soil components at Bonsai shows.

The Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies has a show every year somewhere between Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
It got cancelled this year because of COVID but that is where I get most of my soil components.

I have gotten some components from American Bonsai Supply when something got low

Yes soil can be expensive, particularly when shipping is involved. When I was new, I didnt want to spend money on "dirt" and tried to find things local to me that were cheap or free. In short: my trees lived but didnt thrive in those soil mixes. You need to have trees that are very healthy and vigorous to do bonsai.

You could also check local clubs and see if they have a means of getting soil components with a group in a bulk order to make shipping cheaper.

I would recommend that instead of trying to find cheap alternatives to proven soil components, that you limit the number of trees you have to the amount that you can take care of both in expense for supplies as well as time to do the things they need to take care of and develop. Probably not the answer you want to hear because when we are new, we always want more trees....until we realize how out of control it can become.
Soil is a very important part of bonsai. If its not right for your area and your condtions, you will have problems.
Unhealthy trees can lead to dead trees and those cant be made into bonsai.
 
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Oceanman113

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I think the best responses for your situation will come from those in your neck of the woods. gif you fill out your profile for location and climatic zone then advice will be more in tune with your situation.
Just filled it out, thank you.
 

Oceanman113

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New Jersey
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He is in the Azores where lava and pumice are in the area there. You can see his location under his name.

Please put your location on your profile so people do not have to keep asking you.
We will not remember that you posted in this thread that you are from NJ.

I am from Long Island, NY (you can see that under my name)
I get most of my soil components at Bonsai shows.

The Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies has a show every year somewhere between Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
It got cancelled this year because of COVID but that is where I get most of my soil components.

I have gotten some components from American Bonsai Supply when something got low

Yes soil can be expensive. When I was new, I didnt want to spend money on "dirt" and tried to find things local to me that were cheap or free.
In short: my trees lived but didnt thrive in those soil mixes. You need to have trees that are very healthy and vigorous to do bonsai.

I would recommend that instead of trying to find cheap alternatives to proven soil components, that you limit the number of trees you have to the amount that you can take care of both in expense for supplies as well as time to do the things they need to take care of and develop.
Soil is a very important part of bonsai. If its not right for your area and your condtions, you will have problems.
Unhealthy trees can lead to dead trees and those cant be made into bonsai.
I updated my profile, sorry about that and thank you for explaining.
That is Excellent advice that I will take. I have come to the point where I’ve gotten all the trees I feel
Comfortable caring for. They are all in premium soil now and won’t need to repot for some time, was just planing ahead and making sure I wasn’t being ripped off by cost of good soil. Look forward to going to Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies show in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to share with me. I’m still learning and this is all very helpful.
 

Lorax7

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From vendors at bonsai shows when available (it beats paying for shipping) and from Amazon (gets a bit pricey with shipping, but c’est la vie).
 
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For what it's worth, I just found (and ordered from ) buildasoil.com . A cubic foot (~28 liters or ~7.5 gallons) cost me 32 bucks shipped. Seemed like a good deal.
 
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