Marsman
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Location: Coventry, CT

Is there Bonsai Soil on Mars?

I undertook a grand adventure this weekend and made my own bonsai soil. Here's my story.

I purchased a 50 lb bag of Turface MVP, now called PrimeraOne by the distributer, for $11.75. I also picked up a 2 dry quart bag of Hoffman Volcanic Lava Rock for $4.99. An 8 dry quart bag of Hoffman Special Orchid Mix bark chips (screened Fir bark, screened hardwood charcoal, redwood bark) for $8.99. And an 8 dry quart bag of Hoffman Perlite for $8.99.

11.75 Turface
4.99 Lava Rocks
8.99 Bark
8.99 Perlite
-------
34.75 TOTAL

Screened out the Turface and was able to use about 20% of it. Rest will be used as cat litter. So $2.35 worth of usable Turface. Next, I had to smash up the lave rocks since they were about the size of peanut M&Ms. I wrapped a handful in a towel and hit them with a hammer. This took most of Saturday morning and my end result was about a quart of sifted rock. So I lost about half the rock volume, or $2.50. On Sunday morning , I worked on the bark chips. The bark was also quite large, so I used a [url=https://www.homebrewunderground.com/images/coffee-grinder.jpg]coffee grinder[/url] to make it smaller. I still have a lot of bark left, so no real loss there. Only used about 1/3 of the bag, so about $3 worth. I sifted the Perlite and about half the bag went into the compost heap. Of what was left, I used very little of it, maybe a dollars worth.

When done, I had about 5 quarts of soil. I was constrained by the amount of lava rock I had available. I spent a lot of money and a lot of time to make this soil.

So, here's my final recipe: (measuring unit here is a 16 oz plastic coffee can.)

3 Turface
1 Lava Rocks
1 Bark/Charcoal
.5 Perlite

Was it worth it? Still not sure at this point. It was fun to make, but I didn't end up with as much usable material as I wished I had.

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djlen
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Location: Just East of Zone 7a

Marsman -
I have two questions. What size screen did you use for your sifter?
And how did the Mr. Coffee fare after it chopped up the bark for you?
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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Marsman
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Location: Coventry, CT

I have a standard 3-screen sieve. Anything the fit through the largest but stayed on the second screen, I kept. I used the finest screen first just to get rid of the dust.

The coffee grinder is no worse for the ware. I don't grind my own coffee anyway, so it was just sitting under the counter. I had started breaking up the bark by hand, but remembered I had the unit. Works very well, but does pulverize some of the media. Overall, I'm very pleased with the way it worked out. Chopped up the bark and charcoal without binding up but once or twice.

Rosaelyn
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Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: Brighton, Michigan

Yah, do not let your wife know about that. ;)

Sounds like a good mix, but due to the amount sifted out, it is making some amount of pre-sifted material sound more and more appealing.

I'm thinking:

3-4 parts Floor Dry (sifted and rinsed)
1 part red volcanic rock (pre-sifted) from North Star Bonsai, as mentioned in another thread by Victinia
1 part pine bark soil conditioner (I did not sift this before, just removed all the overly large pieces)

https://www.shop.northstarbonsai.com/category.sc;jsessionid=092CFD52696C37882297BA9FCB84BD40.qscstrfrnt02?categoryId=8
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

Marsman
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Location: Coventry, CT

Looks like North Star next time for me.

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djlen
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Location: Just East of Zone 7a

I can't imagine what it costs to ship 7lbs. of anything. Please let me know when you find out. :lol:

I think I'll stick with my Pine Bark Mulch/Turface mix.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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Victrinia Ridgeway
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Location: Bremerton, WA

It's $10 shipping for through 3/01/10 no matter the weight or size.... that's a good deal. 8)

https://www.northstarbonsai.com/Bonsai_Express.html

Are you near these routes at all?
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

Rosaelyn
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Posts: 244
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: Brighton, Michigan

I'm not near those routes, unfortunately. It was about $20 for 2 bags of lava rocks and 2 bags of pine bark. I also picked up my floor dry today.

Napa Floor Dry - 25 lbs - $7.41 (including tax)
Red Lava Rocks - 14 lbs/8 quarts - $21.40 (including S&H)
Pine bark - 10 quarts - $20.14 (including S&H)

Total = $49.50

The last time I mixed with the Napa Floor Dry, I didn't have much particle waste except for some dust. I will see how the match up works, but I am thinking I might take the sum of all and mix it as it is. We will see how the ratio works once I have everything in front of me, though.
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

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djlen
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Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:37 am
Location: Just East of Zone 7a

Yes, I agree that that is a good deal and they've got a stop not too far from my area in Bordentown, NJ. They've got one in Hartford as well Marsman!!
I never heard of this type of distribution but it sounds good.

Is there a limit to how much one can buy to get the $10 delivery? For instance supposing I wanted to buy 3 bags of Lava Rock and 5 bags of the
Pine Bark mulch. Would that still go for the $10 rate or am I way off base here?
I know that there has to be a limit and I'd be interested in buying at least that much of both of those items. And I haven't browsed the rest of the site.
Since this will be only a twice yearly event I'd expect that people would be willing to load up.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
_________
How To Post A Picture

Rosaelyn
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Posts: 244
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:40 pm
Location: Brighton, Michigan

I also wanted to add I very much like the thread title. ;) Yes, Virginia, there is bonsai soil on Mars. hehe
Rosaelyn @}>---'---,---

If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. ~ Hal Borland

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Posts: 264
Joined: Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:46 pm
Location: Bremerton, WA

I think there is a minimum purchase amount... but no weight or volume restrictions. So in other words... if you have any other bonsai friends, you buy in bulk so it's stupid cheap to get it to you, then you split the costs with each other.

I get Akadama for $12 a 3.5 gallon bag... it's normally $40+, but because it gets ordered in a huge amount by various clubs, we get it stupid cheap. Nice thing about soils... it won't spoil or decompose on you a bit if you keep it dry.

But even for all that the minimum purchase amount is only $100... which considering the shipping savings is not that bad.

If I was on the route, I'd likely wipe him out myself. 8)

V
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Posts: 264
Joined: Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:46 pm
Location: Bremerton, WA

To quote the site....

"Using this method everyone ordering pays ten dollars (10.00) for their shipping no matter what size their order. This can be a single item or multiple items, there is no weight restrictions. The only requirement for this service is that the invoice must be one hundred dollars (100.00) or more."

So no... there is no limit... very nice for you guys really... :P

To put it in perspective $100 could potentially get you about 20 gallons of bonsai soil... that's not bad at all. All of it pre-sifted and mix ready. That's crazy actually... (Figured on 8 bags of pine bark and 10 bags of lava).

[crazy in a good way of course... :lol: ]
Last edited by Victrinia Ridgeway on Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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Big Vine
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Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Florida - Zone 8b

Marsman...I admire your perseverance!
Brings back memories of when I tried 'shrinking' my own lava rock down to size last year using a hammer and frying pan...
What a mess---and a costly one, at that!

And quite a sore arm too... :shock: :lol:

I vowed to never do that again, and luckily I've found something a little easier on the wallet (and the arm!) that I'm now able to use instead. :wink:
BV
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