ynot
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snaps48 wrote:
So, what have I learned? Bonsai soil is messy. Very messy. Messier than regular soil. And very, very hard to get wet all the way through.
I am not following this...:?: Do you refer to the original soil in the pot or what you repotted with.

More importantly, Does this phrase "very, very hard to get wet all the way through" refer to the new soil or the old soil?

Possibly you refer to getting rid of the old soil from the roots?..I am lost wrt that one...

The new soil should certainly NOT be difficult to wet throughout...
Exhausted. Wow. I don't think I realized quite what this venture meant when I started. But it was fun, too.
To quote Sade ~ "It's never as good as the first time", :P;).. Nah it's a piece of cake..:D I am concerned about your comments on the soil though.

Any thoughts/advice? My Ficus 2 is turning yellow. I've read that they drop their leaves at the drop of a hat. Should I be overly concerned?
Yellowing leaves [as per the pictures] are often a sign of over watering, No need to panic but between this info and [until you clarify the above comments] I would be very conscientious of your watering.

Did you notice that there were not many fine feeder roots on your ficus?

ynot

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Ynot -

I did in fact mean the new soil. What it came in, I wouldn't even call soil; it was really just dirt. The new soil... well, with the juniper soil it was easier, but with the ficus soil, I would pour water over it, and it would kind of... roll off. Then when I tried to immerse, the top would lift off. I eventually managed to get it soaked through, and don't believe that it will be as difficult in the future. Could this be a first time thing, where I should have maybe rinsed it first? To get off the dust and chaff that may have caused the problem? The floating/rolling off while taking dry soil with it is what I meant by messy. It got everywhere. I had it up to my elbows. I'll be visiting the cleaners tomorrow.

As for over watering, I'll be careful in the future. I'd only watered it once, though, since I got it. Still, I'll be conscientious in the future of checking the soil and using the methods described.

As for the root question: If that was a question, I'm not sure I would know one way or the other whether there were a good number of fine feeder roots. There seemed a fair amount to me, but this was the first time I've see ficus roots. If it was a comment, I'll assume that's a bad thing, and hope that they'll grow more? Is there anything I can do to help them grow more?

~aly

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I did in fact mean the new soil. What it came in, I wouldn't even call soil; it was really just dirt. The new soil... well, with the juniper soil it was easier, but with the ficus soil, I would pour water over it, and it would kind of... roll off. Then when I tried to immerse, the top would lift off. I eventually managed to get it soaked through, and don't believe that it will be as difficult in the future. Could this be a first time thing, where I should have maybe rinsed it first? To get off the dust and chaff that may have caused the problem? The floating/rolling off while taking dry soil with it is what I meant by messy. It got everywhere. I had it up to my elbows. I'll be visiting the cleaners tomorrow.
The type of soil you ordered from hollow creek... Did it say it needed to be sifted further on the website? I am guessing it did and you didn't...so to speak.

Can you post a link to the soil you bought please?
As for over watering, I'll be careful in the future. I'd only watered it once, though, since I got it. Still, I'll be conscientious in the future of checking the soil and using the methods described.
8), No more submersion required.
As for the root question: If that was a question, I'm not sure I would know one way or the other whether there were a good number of fine feeder roots. There seemed a fair amount to me, but this was the first time I've see ficus roots. If it was a comment, I'll assume that's a bad thing, and hope that they'll grow more? Is there anything I can do to help them grow more?
No, It did not have a lot, The better soil will help promote more feeders though.

ynot

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Ynot -
Or [url=https://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com/item104413.ctlg]This for your ficus[/url] & [url=https://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com/item103798.ctlg]This for your Juniper.[/url] I believe the juniper soil needs an additional screening to remove the fine particles here.
Please forgive me if I didn't do the quote thing right. This is another area I'm new in. I used the soil you pointed to at that site, and you did mention that though you had never used this soil before as you mix your own, an additional screening might needed (though the site did not, as far as I can tell).

So you believe that the problem was needing another screening? How exactly would I go about doing that? I don't imagine I'll need to for quite some time, as I don't think I will be or should be repotting or doing anything with the soil for the forseeable future, but it would be good to know! I'd like to avoid that mess in the future, if it's possible. It won't cause any harm for the trees that I made a booboo and didn't screen it, will it?

Two additional questions have occurred to me:

1) Should I worry about the juniper's parts falling off? I'm referring to small parts of the...I'm not sure the term. There are the branches, and then the branches with the needles on them shooting from the branches. Well, quite a number of small pieces, maybe a centimeter/centimeter and a half long, of the branches with the needles fell off. It seemed as though all of the branches were very dry. Is this normal?

2) How much water do you put in a humidity tray? That may be a stupid question. I assume that it's a fine layer, and you just add more when it evaporates? I originally thought to make it deeper, but then I thought about mold growing. What's standard procedure?

Thanks again for putting up with such a novice!
~aly

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Or [url=https://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com/item104413.ctlg]This for your ficus[/url] & [url=https://www.hollowcreekbonsai.com/item103798.ctlg]This for your Juniper.[/url] I believe the juniper soil needs an additional screening to remove the fine particles here.
Please forgive me if I didn't do the quote thing right. This is another area I'm new in. I used the soil you pointed to at that site, and you did mention that though you had never used this soil before as you mix your own, an additional screening might needed (though the site did not, as far as I can tell).
Your quotes were fine...

Speaking of fines [by this I refer to the small particles in your soil].

These are what need to be screened out of your soil [You mentioned it looked like 'dirt.] The juniper soil as I recall was double screened- It is the third screening that eliminates the 'fines' from the soil.
So you believe that the problem was needing another screening?


Exactly
How exactly would I go about doing that?
Sift it through a chunk of window screen any bits of your [dry] soil that are small enough to go through a window screen get thrown away and do not go in the pot.

I don't imagine I'll need to for quite some time, as I don't think I will be or should be repotting or doing anything with the soil for the forseeable future, but it would be good to know!
I'd like to avoid that mess in the future, if it's possible. It won't cause any harm for the trees that I made a booboo and didn't screen it, will it?
Quite the opposite in fact. Eliminating the fine particles is one of the primary reasons to switch to proper soil. A more course particle mixture provides better aeration and gas exchange within the soil.
You have only improved your trees position marginally when you consider that the fines are still included


Did you read the [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3530]thread I referenced[/url]in my second post as well as the mentioned stickys about soil & repotting at the top of the forum. This issue is addressed/explained further in these places.
1) Should I worry about the juniper's parts falling off? I'm referring to small parts of the...I'm not sure the term. There are the branches, and then the branches with the needles on them shooting from the branches. Well, quite a number of small pieces, maybe a centimeter/centimeter and a half long, of the branches with the needles fell off. It seemed as though all of the branches were very dry. Is this normal?
No, It is not normal. You have mentioned that you have only watered these once, What time frame is that in?

Scratch your tree in an unobtrusive spot [down to the cambium layer] if you see a pale green color it is fine [for now] any other color indicates you have an ex-tree. Junipers can keep their color for an extended period of time after their demise. I am not saying that is the case here- Just so you know.
2) How much water do you put in a humidity tray? That may be a stupid question. I assume that it's a fine layer, and you just add more when it evaporates? I originally thought to make it deeper, but then I thought about mold growing. What's standard procedure?
Fill it, [Unless you want to fill it twice as often-Then fill it halfway ;)], Just insure that the drainage holes of the pot are not sitting in the water.
Humidity trays are only usefull indoors.
Thanks again for putting up with such a novice!
~aly
Keep asking questions, We all do :D

ynot

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These are what need to be screened out of your soil [You mentioned it looked like 'dirt.] The juniper soil as I recall was double screened- It is the third screening that eliminates the 'fines' from the soil.
The dirt I believe I referred to was what they came in and I threw away. What floated seemes like dust and chaff.

Surprisingly, the juniper soil was not so bad, and much less... er, floated.

I'll tell you what I wound up doing for my ficus. Tell me if I have to redo.

I got rid of bad walmart dirt, rinsed the roots, took some pics, then tried to put them in the new, good soil. When I watered, it all ran off of the new, good soil. When I tried to submerge, half came out of the pot. I wound up getting my very, very fine strainer, just about as small as window screening, and scooping the soil out of the water. I put the soil back in the pot and tried again. Same results. I took all the soil out of the pots and stuck it in the strainer and and ran very fast water over it. I glared at it all for a while. I worried that the stuff running out of the strainer was the organic material I was supposed to keep. I shut the water off and swirled around the soil to see how wet it was. The dusty stuff seemed to still be there, preventing water from soaking into it, so I turned the water back on. I let it get too hot and burned my finger a bit. I went to get an ice cube. When I came back, I shut the water off and threw the soil into the pots. When I watered/submerged, only a little came out this time, so I thought, hurrah. I poked at them with a chopstick for a while. I left them in the water for about ten or fifteen minutes, just to make the soil got soaked. I took them out and put them on the humidity tray.

In the future, I assume it will be easier to do the straining DRY first without trying to mess with the water and the pots and the mess. I did read the thread you referenced. Thank you for pointing it out. I found it very interesting, especially as it made reference to themes I'd seen elsewhere in quests for non-bonsai related information about...well, growing plants in water. As the soils said 2x/3x screened from the site, I guess I thought that meant I was good to go. I'll know better for next time than to believe things are as billed. Grr...


No, It is not normal. You have mentioned that you have only watered these once, What time frame is that in?
For the ficus, about a week. For the juniper, about two.

Scratch your tree in an unobtrusive spot [down to the cambium layer] if you see a pale green color it is fine [for now] any other color indicates you have an ex-tree.
I wasn't sure what the cambium layer was, so I just kept scratching until I found something. It seems mostly white. I guess that's a scratch, then?

Apologies if I sounded gruff at all (or had bad typos/grammar/spelling). Very tired, can't think straight, and heading to sleep now.

~aly[/quote]

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Ynot,
The juniper soil as I recall was double screened- It is the third screening that eliminates the 'fines' from the soil.
This is something I have wondered about before, but since I too mix my own soil I have never given it a lot of thought.

The description of the (Juniper) product specifically states it to be between 1/16 to 1/4 inch. Do you think that might mean that they screened it once to exclude larger particles and then again to remove the fines, leaving only the desired range. If that is the case there would be no need for further screening. Not trying to be argumentative here, just trying to get to the bottom of this before Aly re-pots again, perhaps unnecessarily. A close examination of any remaining product could give a clue here.

The tropical mix is another matter, there is no size mentioned in the description. I assume the fines have been retained in this case "to hold more moisture".

Norm

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Aly,

Saw your recent post after I had posted mine to Ynot.

It seems to me that you are only having trouble with the tropical mix.
I worried that the stuff running out of the strainer was the organic material I was supposed to keep.
It's the size that's the issue here not whether it's organic or inorganic, I sift my in-organic components too and get fines from them as well. It's not surprising that you are having difficulty watering this mix, it is 50% bark and unsifted at that. All the smaller bark will float easily, as you have found.
In the future, I assume it will be easier to do the straining DRY first without trying to mess with the water and the pots and the mess.
Yes, do it when it is dry. I allow more organics for Ficus (relative to my other trees) but I also screen it more than yours seems to be.
I wasn't sure what the cambium layer was, so I just kept scratching until I found something. It seems mostly white. I guess that's a scratch, then?
This is worrisome. The cambium is the layer of living green tissue directly under the bark. If it's not green you've got troubles. Junipers have the capacity to look alive when they have been dead for some time. The needles slowly dry and gradually drop off. Sound familiar?

Norm

EDIT
Last edited by Gnome on Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ynot
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Gnome,

No Problem whatsoever, I understand your excellent point wrt the stated size and that is absolutely a possibility.

I see that I mistook the problem to be with the Juniper soil, I am sorry for that [Man I am catching low reading comprehension...;)]

...Hmmm. I am not at all sure just what to make of this. I am becoming less impressed with the 'Highly organic tropical pre-made bonsai soil' all the time.

I do have a question about your submersion, Are you just plunging the pot full of soil completely underwater?

Aly, Just to clarify: Do both of these quotes refer to the original soil in the pots?
aly wrote: PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 9:50 pm Post subject:
Ynot -

I did in fact mean the new soil. What it came in, I wouldn't even call soil; it was really just dirt.
aly wrote: The dirt I believe I referred to was what they came in and I threw away.
Please let us know about the state of your juniper, As Gnome noted: It is worrisome.

{EDIT: I though this posted last night but it did not...:? Well, Moving on...}

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Ynot,
I do have a question about your submersion, Are you just plunging the pot full of soil completely underwater?
This is a good point. When I do water by this method, mostly Jades during the winter or upon re-potting, I found that it is helpful to run some water from the top down to help wet the soil initially. Then the water in the basin/tub is not allowed to overrun the rim of the pot. This should help with the 'floating away' issue.

As an aside, do you remember tai's Ficus soil recipe? Rich soil and lava rock, I always found that to be a little unusual but he seemed to have great success with it. Would you attribute that to his location, or are these trees more adaptable than we give them credit for?

Norm

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Gnome wrote:Ynot,
I do have a question about your submersion, Are you just plunging the pot full of soil completely underwater?
This is a good point. When I do water by this method, mostly Jades during the winter or upon re-potting, I found that it is helpful to run some water from the top down to help wet the soil initially. Then the water in the basin/tub is not allowed to overrun the rim of the pot. This should help with the 'floating away' issue.
My submersion method [When used] is similar: I water a bit on the top and then I let it sit in water that does not reach the rim of the pot and the water seeps in through the drainage holes. If needed I top water a bit to soak any dry spots on the higher bits of the soil. [ Done while it sits there]
Done deal.
As an aside, do you remember tai's Ficus soil recipe? Rich soil and lava rock, I always found that to be a little unusual but he seemed to have great success with it. Would you attribute that to his location, or are these trees more adaptable than we give them credit for?
Norm
Yeah, A 50/50 mix.
I know what you mean and I think that part of his success was due to the tropical location [Coastal Northern Australia] as well as the fact that [In some cases] both his trees and the soil were native to his area. [So they felt right at home so to speak {But with better drainage} :D]

[I have often wondered if his soil had a high volcanic or sand content even though "rich black soil" doesn't sound indicative of that... You never know.
After all, For years the Japanese texts on bonsai only referred to "soil" and it was much later that it was popularly known [And written about] that their soil is primarily from volcanic sources [Seems obvious- but it wasn't until the 1990s or so that akadama -or similar- became known/popular outside of Japan.].

Having said that I have no doubt that many trees are more resilient than we give them credit for and also that Taipan was also less likely to make errors of the unsurvivable type due to his experience.

There's obviously a margin of error involved here and Tai was far more comfortable/skilled wrt playing with more narrow boundaries.

ynot.

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Ynot,
part of his success was due to the tropical location [Coastal Northern Australia] as well as the fact that [In some cases] both his trees and the soil were native to his area.
Good point there, I don't recall seeing too many Ficus in my area. :wink:
Taipan was also less likely to make errors of the unsurvivable type due to his experience.

There's obviously a margin of error involved here and Tai was far more comfortable/skilled wrt playing with more narrow boundaries.
Yes, experience can certainly broaden the margin for error.

Norm

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I hope your not using them to check for moisture .
no, just to work soil into the roots when repotting, and also to comb out roots when removing old soil.

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Phew. I am so glad that week is over and we're onto the weekend! Onto the questions:
Aly, Just to clarify: Do both of these quotes refer to the original soil in the pots?
Yes.
I do have a question about your submersion, Are you just plunging the pot full of soil completely underwater?
I do have a question about your submersion, Are you just plunging the pot full of soil completely underwater?
This is a good point. When I do water by this method, mostly Jades during the winter or upon re-potting, I found that it is helpful to run some water from the top down to help wet the soil initially. Then the water in the basin/tub is not allowed to overrun the rim of the pot. This should help with the 'floating away' issue.
I tried to water from the top, but it all beaded overtop of the soil and didn't mix with it. It was almost like it was water repellant. I stared at it for a while in wonder, not quite sure what to do. Then I tilted it and let the water run over. Then I tried again, with the same results. So I moved on to submersion. I did have the water over the rim of the pot, which, you're right, probably had something to do with the soil floating away. Probably I should have figured out something so logical; at least I'll know for next time.

So what's the verdict? Do I need to take the trees out of the soil, do a screening, and stick them back in? Or do you think my accidental straining with water and a strainer made it alright?

As for the juniper, I'm pretty sure it's dead. No green in sight, no matter where I scratch. Lots of very light off-white, though.

Did I miss any questions?

Thanks again,
~aly

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I see how dumb my quoted questions were there aly.. I must have been tired...Sorry about that :lol: & Thanks.
I tried to water from the top, but it all beaded overtop of the soil and didn't mix with it. It was almost like it was water repellant. I stared at it for a while in wonder, not quite sure what to do. Then I tilted it and let the water run over. Then I tried again, with the same results. So I moved on to submersion. I did have the water over the rim of the pot, which, you're right, probably had something to do with the soil floating away. Probably I should have figured out something so logical; at least I'll know for next time.
It's a rookie thing Aly :P ;), No worries... There's lots of mistakes still to come for all of us :oops: ;). All opportunities to learn is all.

[Just asking here as it is really puzzling-And I have never used this soil.]

When putting the new soil into the pot did you compress it or push it into place using your hands to tamp it down by any chance? This would possibly compress the soil enough to do what you mention.
[This tamping process is not required btw, The use of a chopstick to thoroughly work the soil into the root system combined with the soak should usually do well enough.]
So what's the verdict? Do I need to take the trees out of the soil, do a screening, and stick them back in? Or do you think my accidental straining with water and a strainer made it alright?
You have some of the tropical soil left over yes? Do you have a way to sift it?

If so, I would sift enough to do a repot [Do not repot yet] and post a picture of how that looks [Please include a coin or something in the picture that we can use for scale].
This water repellent soil is very puzzling.
As for the juniper, I'm pretty sure it's dead. No green in sight, no matter where I scratch. Lots of very light off-white, though.
Exactly how long have you had it? It possibly was dead when you got it and a knowledgeable retailer would recognize and rectify this for you. ~ Something to consider.

ynot

BTW ~ Joe- I was kidding about the chopstick use. [Note the smileys...]

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Ynot,
ynot wrote:I see how dumb my quoted questions were there aly.. I must have been tired...Sorry about that :lol: & Thanks.
*shrugs* Happens. I know I was tired when I was posting in the wee hours last night/this morning.
When putting the new soil into the pot did you compress it or push it into place using your hands to tamp it down by any chance? This would possibly compress the soil enough to do what you mention.
I didn't press the soil down, but I did manipulate it quite a bit as I was putting it in with the plant. I put small layers in at a time and kind of, er, poked at it/brushed it/moved it around.

If so, I would sift enough to do a repot [Do not repot yet] and post a picture of how that looks [Please include a coin or something in the picture that we can use for scale].
This water repellent soil is very puzzling.
Will do. Probably I'll post it in the morning. I'll also post a pic of the stuff in with the ficus now. While repotting and having all of my floating soil trouble, I did wind up semi-straining it with a collander and running water, as I was quite frustrated. Would that have helped at all? The collander I used was approximately window mesh size, maybe slightly larger.

~aly

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Aly,

Do I need to take the trees out of the soil, do a screening, and stick them back in?
You will find it difficult to sift damp soil.

Ynot wrote:
You have some of the tropical soil left over yes? Do you have a way to sift it?... If so, I would sift enough to do a repot
For that matter, and I almost mentioned this earlier, do you have any of the other (Juniper) mix left over? If so, there is no reason that you cannot combine these two products, still sifting of course. This will of course reduce the percentage of organics in your soil, which should please Ynot. :wink:

If you find that you still do not have enough soil and you want to re-pot you can take the trees out of their pots, wrap them in some damp paper towel and wrap the roots with plastic while the soil dries a bit. You can speed this process by putting the soil in a warm oven until it is dry enough to sift.

Norm

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Here's a picture of the soil - pre straining, post straining, and what's in there with them now.

[url=https://img403.imageshack.us/my.php?image=3soilgp8.jpg][img]https://img403.imageshack.us/img403/6600/3soilgp8.th.jpg[/img][/url]

I probably have enough just enough soil left over if I use the juniper soil and mix them together. If I take Gnome's suggestion and reuse the soil in there, I definitely have enough.

Please let me know if the picture is no good and I need to fix it.

~aly

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I didn't press the soil down, but I did manipulate it quite a bit as I was putting it in with the plant. I put small layers in at a time and kind of, er, poked at it/brushed it/moved it around.
Sounds good, Well done.
snaps48 wrote:Here's a picture of the soil - pre straining, post straining, and what's in there with them now. ~
Please let me know if the picture is no good and I need to fix it.

[url=https://img403.imageshack.us/my.php?image=3soilgp8.jpg][img]https://img403.imageshack.us/img403/6600/3soilgp8.th.jpg[/img][/url]
This is an excellent photo :!: Thank you for posting this comparison :D

I added just a bit of text:

[url=https://imageshack.us][img]https://img77.imageshack.us/img77/1397/snapssoilszr6.jpg[/img][/url]

As I noted the middle pile looks awesome to me [Much like my soil in fact] Considering it is for your ficus you may [as noted] want to add just a bit more organic unless you are really in love with watering ;) as this will dry quickly. Please wait for other opinions on that. :)

I really do hope this picture gets viewed by many people so that they can see the comparison wrt particle size and composition of 'Bonsai soil' as compared to what they generally think of as 'soil'.

Thanks again for such a great picture :D 8).
I probably have enough just enough soil left over if I use the juniper soil and mix them together. If I take Gnome's suggestion and reuse the soil in there, I definitely have enough.
Gnomes idea is great IMO.

Have you considered contacting the retailer about your juniper as I suggested?

ynot

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Ynot -
This is an excellent photo Thank you for posting this comparison

Thanks! And you're welcome! Thank you for your added commentary.

Quick question - The one all the way to the right, the 'what's in there now' is the same soil. All three are the same soil. The one on the right is just wet, and has actually been strained a bit while wet. Maybe I'll let it dry and re-photo to see if that makes a difference in what it looks like? I'm out until tomorrow night anyway, so I wouldn't be able to repot until then.

As for the juniper, it was a gift from a friend, so it'll take a bit to figure out how to go about that. I do plan to pursue it, though.

Thanks again!
~aly

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This is an excellent photo Thank you for posting this comparison
Thanks! And you're welcome! Thank you for your added commentary.
Your welcome :D. I call 'em like I see 'em 8) .
Quick question - The one all the way to the right, the 'what's in there now' is the same soil. All three are the same soil.
I know this and understand completely.
However, They [Due to the compositional differences between them due to the sieving.] would function differently as their moisture retention properties differ and this makes them essentially 'different' soils in a very fundamental sense.
The one on the right is just wet, and has actually been strained a bit while wet. Maybe I'll let it dry and re-photo to see if that makes a difference in what it looks like? I'm out until tomorrow night anyway, so I wouldn't be able to repot until then.
[Sieving wet soil is usually not very effective as Gnome noted.]
Letting it dry will change what it looks like, But it does not change it's composition any. If you have time for a quick experiment do this:

Take 3 Styrofoam cups and cut them down to half, Poke a bunch of holes or cut notches in the bottom so it will drain completely [This is important].
Fill one with each type of soil and then soak them completely. Set them aside and see how long they take to dry. You will find the RH soil in the picture takes far far longer.

My point is that it looking different when dry doesn't change how it works. :)
As for the juniper, it was a gift from a friend, so it'll take a bit to figure out how to go about that. I do plan to pursue it, though.
Ok, I'd just ask them. After all, They didn't want to give you a dead tree :)

ynot

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