rondo769
Cool Member
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 2:13 am
Location: converse,IN

diatomaceous earth

I have been searching around for diatomaceous earth with no luck,i did however find some fullers earth at the local auto place.Can anyone tell me if these two are the same and if this stuff will work.I also heard you can grind up red clay pots,screen out the fines and use that as well?
"MY MIND BELONGS TO MY WORK
MY HEART BELONGS TO MY FAMILY
BUT MY SOUL BELONGS TO THE WOODS!"

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27808
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Fuller's earth is fine clay. Diatomaceous Earth is fossil skeleton of diatoms. Not the same at all. I got DE at a good price from here last fall: https://www.mastergardening.com/mgd-3020.html

work for what, I have no idea, as I don't know what DE is used for with bonsai -- it doesn't sound like you're planning to use it for pest control? I use mine around the house for ants and fleas. One day, I was getting ready to send a puff of DE under the fridge since a trail of ants disappeared under there, but my 6 yr old stopped me, saying "You can't put that there! SPIDERS live under there!" :shock: We decided to let the spiders deal with the ants. :wink: :lol:

:!: :!: :!: Make sure to get the UNPROCESSED horticultural/agricultural grade DE and NOT the ones sold for pool filters, etc. Those are heat treated and are extremely dangerous if inhaled -- like asbestos. :!: :!: :!:

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

applestar,
Fuller's earth is fine clay. Diatomaceous Earth is fossil skeleton of diatoms. Not the same at all.
Thanks for the explanation.

You may not be aware of it, I wasn't until it was pointed out here, diatomaceous earth can be purchased in different sizes. It does not necessarily need to be ground fine. Some bonsai growers are using it as a growing medium. I had the same reaction you did when I first heard of someone using it for bonsai. Do you know if Fuller's earth is fired in a kiln?

Norm

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27808
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I see... I did a quick search and they seem to be listed as diatomite. Very interesting. :D

I don't think fuller's earth is fired. They ARE highly absorbent just like DE in powder form, except that fuller's earth is often used in cosmetics so I don't think they have the sharp abrasive quality of DE. If it's like bentonite clay, it would be more biologically active than DE.

Just out of curiosity -- is akadama clay pellets fired? If this is the sort of thing that you're looking for, a possible source for you bonsai enthusiasts might be one of those "paint your own" pottery studios that are cropping up everywhere. We used to go to one where the owner would let us play with our own supply of clay and make things, and she'd fire them at nominal price. We would then paint them and have them fired again... or not. You could probably make a bunch of little clay balls and have them fired, or if all you need are bits of fired clay (they don't need to be smooth/rounded) then when they make the bisque-ware (plain pottery pieces for the customers to paint), they always have to clean up chips of excess. Then too, there are always a certain amount of losses due to firing accidents when the pottery pieces explode inside the kiln. So all you might have to do is ask for sweepings. Just an idea. :wink:

moulman
Cool Member
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 5:35 pm
Location: Idaho, USA

Pottery shards are a great source. There is a pottery factory near me and they have a large supply of crushed terra cotta that they sell as cat litter (they crush the broken or otherwise unusable pots from the kiln). It works every bit as well as akadama, and it very cheap!

8)

rondo769
Cool Member
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 2:13 am
Location: converse,IN

i found some de at the napa store here in town,i also have a bunch of terracotta pots(thats the red clay pots right?) i was going to grind them up in a blender and mix it with the de.Is that a good potting mix?
"MY MIND BELONGS TO MY WORK
MY HEART BELONGS TO MY FAMILY
BUT MY SOUL BELONGS TO THE WOODS!"

rondo769
Cool Member
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 2:13 am
Location: converse,IN

so do you plant bonsai in straight de or mix it with soil?
"MY MIND BELONGS TO MY WORK
MY HEART BELONGS TO MY FAMILY
BUT MY SOUL BELONGS TO THE WOODS!"

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

rondo769,
so do you plant bonsai in straight de or mix it with soil?
No to the soil. There is usually no actual soil in bonsai soil. I use Pine bark as the organic component for my stuff. Particle size is very important and garden/potting soil is way too fine.
I also have a bunch of terracotta pots(thats the red clay pots right?) I was going to grind them up in a blender and mix it with the de.Is that a good potting mix?
You must have one heck of an industrial strength blender. :shock:

If you already have an inorganic component then I would not bother with the pots. Have you read the 'soil sticky'? It is located at the top of the bonsai forum, make sure to follow the links.

Norm

rondo769
Cool Member
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 2:13 am
Location: converse,IN

I bought a juniper in training from joebonsai.com,i got a really nice tree for the price.so when i water it the soil stays wet for days so i cant help but think it needs to dry out a little faster .
"MY MIND BELONGS TO MY WORK
MY HEART BELONGS TO MY FAMILY
BUT MY SOUL BELONGS TO THE WOODS!"

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

rondo769,
when I water it the soil stays wet for days so I cant help but think it needs to dry out a little faster .
That is correct, I have my Juniper in a mix of roughly half Haydite (fired shale) and lava rock with a little bark. These 'premium' components are more costly, that is why they are not used for mass produced bonsai. They are also heavier and would increase shipping costs.

Norm

Cuda52774
Cool Member
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Hey guys, I bought some DE today at Napa auto parts store, $8 for 25 qts.

Here are the articles that turned me in this direction.

https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm

https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Soils.html

I'm slowly leaning towards making my own soil thanks to some advice from Gnome. I paid $35 for 20 qts of pre-mixed bonsai soil from the monastery here. The price difference is a no brainer. I got the screens today at the Monastery.

Now all I have to do is figure out an easy way to chop up some pine bark for a little organic water retention without breaking my back. Any suggestions?

Cuda
Image "Let's put a happy little tree right there."

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Be CAREFUL with Diatomaceous Earth! :!: :!:

There is DE for swimming pools--do NOT NOT NOT use this on your plants. Do NOT breathe it, handle it without training, etc.

Then there is DE that is safe for use in gardens, and believe me 25 quarts will not cost only $8.00. I purchased a 1- or 2-pound BOX of it for about $8 at my local garden-supply store earlier this year. It's still not for breathing, but it's at least safe for use on food plants and doesn't have the nasties associated with swimming-pool-grade DE.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Look under "Safety Considerations" in this WikiPedia article on Diatomaceous Earth for the breathing problems with industrial/pool-grade DE:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_earth

Cynthia

Cuda52774
Cool Member
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Location: Atlanta, Ga

cynthia_h wrote:Be CAREFUL with Diatomaceous Earth! :!: :!:

There is DE for swimming pools--do NOT NOT NOT use this on your plants. Do NOT breathe it, handle it without training, etc.

Then there is DE that is safe for use in gardens, and believe me 25 quarts will not cost only $8.00. I purchased a 1- or 2-pound BOX of it for about $8 at my local garden-supply store earlier this year. It's still not for breathing, but it's at least safe for use on food plants and doesn't have the nasties associated with swimming-pool-grade DE.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
Thanks Cynthia. I didn't buy the pool grade filter type. I think that's more of a powder. I bought the oil dry type that they talk about in the article. I plan on wetting it down to cut down on the dust.

I'd like some more info on the DE that you bought and what makes it so much more expensive. Maybe it's a branding thing. I work for an airline and just because a latch or switch or lightbulb is labeled for use on aircraft by the FAA, that makes that part cost ten times what you could buy the same light bulb for in the hardware store. Maybe because yours was labeled for gardening and such they put a premium on it. Since mine was just "oil dry" sold in industrial packaging, maybe it doesn't cost as much??

Cuda
Image "Let's put a happy little tree right there."

User avatar
bewildered_nmsu
Senior Member
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:39 am
Location: Las Cruces, NM

It's really great that this topic came up. On Monday I bought that same bag that Cuda is talking about from Napa autoparts, after reading about using cat litter or diatomaceous earth as an Akadama subsitute on Bonsai4me. I'm currently doing some experiments to test the viability of this particular product (an oil absorbent). I've soaked the stuff in water for a day, frozen it for a day and let it thaw out, and I gotta say it has started to get kind of crumbly after that test, though no more crumbly than what I've read about Akadama. This product, after sifting has an average diameter of 1/8" which strikes me as kind of fine. A question for the resident experts: how fine is your soil, typically? And by the way, though composed of the same substance, this product isn't at all similar to the DE filtration aid which is dangerous.

Cuda52774
Cool Member
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Stupid triple post. :? :?

:P
Last edited by Cuda52774 on Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Image "Let's put a happy little tree right there."

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Cuda,

My apologies, it seems I inadvertently deleted your most recent post here. I had this page up in one tab and was doing something else in another. When I came back I noticed the triple post and began to delete two of them. Unfortunately it seems you edited two of them in the meantime and, not having refreshed my screen, I deleted the one you chose to leave. :oops:

I recall that you were inquiring about sizing Pine Bark. Look for products other than landscape bark. Try to locate composted Pine bark, it may be called something like soil conditioner.
https://www.garickbulk.com/main.php/products/display/SLNH?tp=1#

Pine Bark also comes in smaller sizes called mini nuggets, still pretty big but you might try that. Of course all components are to be screened especially since you just got your nice new set. :)

Have you seen this page yet?
https://www.memobug.com/csn/csn.cgi?database=ronmartin%2edb&command=viewone&id=9&rnd=960.5995123805917

Norm
Last edited by Gnome on Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

bewildered_nmsu,
This product, after sifting has an average diameter of 1/8" which strikes me as kind of fine. A question for the resident experts: how fine is your soil, typically?
My screens are 1/8" and 1/4". My general mix is comprised of material that fall through the 1/4" and stays on top of the 1/8" so it is in that range, with the bulk of it being closer to the small end.

I have also experimented with the stuff that stays on top of the 1/4" screen and so far so good with a Boxwood. I am beginning to suspect that my mix is a little on the small side. Unfortunately I am having difficult time locating the slightly larger materials. Turface MVP yields very little, if anything, above the 1/8" - 1/4" range and my local source for Haydite is no longer carrying it.

Also I am using homemade screens and have yet to locate a 3/8" mesh product so I'm kind of in limbo in that regard, either a little too small or a little too big.:roll:

Norm

Cuda52774
Cool Member
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Gnome wrote:Cuda,

My apologies, it seems I inadvertently deleted your most recent post here. I had this page up in one tab and was doing something else in another. When I came back I noticed the triple post and began to delete two of them. Unfortunately it seems you edited two of them in the meantime and, not having refreshed my screen, I deleted the one you chose to leave. :oops:

Norm
No problems Gnome. I've modded a forum myself before, and those things happen.

I was just telling bewildered to keep me updated on his experiments with the Napa stuff and I'm going to try the same experiments.

I'm worried that the stuff may swell when it becomes wet which would be......bad.

As for the size of the DE. Some people still plant their bonsai in potting soil. I figure anything that is aggregate enough to allow good drainage, oxygen diffusion, and doesn't break down should be a good medium. If it happens to hold onto moisture a little better than lava rock, that's a bonus.

Thanks for answering my question about the pine bark! I'll keep looking. 8)

Cuda
Image "Let's put a happy little tree right there."

User avatar
bewildered_nmsu
Senior Member
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:39 am
Location: Las Cruces, NM

This oil absorbent doesn't swell at all, and from what I've seen it retains moisture surprisingly well for an inert substance. However, I have two concerns. 1) The product is two fine for all but shohin. and 2) After a couple seasons of repeated freezing and thawing it will turn into an airless mush.

Cuda52774
Cool Member
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Location: Atlanta, Ga

bewildered_nmsu wrote:This oil absorbent doesn't swell at all, and from what I've seen it retains moisture surprisingly well for an inert substance. However, I have two concerns. 1) The product is two fine for all but shohin. and 2) After a couple seasons of repeated freezing and thawing it will turn into an airless mush.
But you're in New Mexico. :wink:

So, is that saying that you're not going to use it?? I don't see how it can't work when so many people have been using it for years...

Hmmmmm.......$8 wasted?

Cuda
Image "Let's put a happy little tree right there."

User avatar
bewildered_nmsu
Senior Member
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:39 am
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Average nighttime temperatures around these parts in Dec. and Jan. are 25-30 F range so we get plenty of freezes. As far as this product goes, I'm not convinced that the DE it's made of is the same stuff that the guy from Bonsai4me is using. The stuff he's using is a moler clay (a special kind of DE from what I gather) mined in Denmark, and from everything that he's said on his website, what he's using is harder than this oil absorbent. [url]https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm[/url] Look at what he says in the part of the article "Areas Outside the UK"

PS: It's awesome that this thread came up.

alisios
Senior Member
Posts: 298
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:25 am
Location: Sedona, Arizona

Here is a related topic from last year.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=33413&sid=ab28508273e58e8664ccabebc4edbb6e


The car parts DE is fine for use in bonsai soil (it even says on the 25lb bag), but I wouldn't use it as the only component in the soil.

Also (and this might be a small point to many) that when the DE dries out, it looks white, which I find looks hideous - I prefer a more earthy look to the soil... not a big deal.

I've gone to use Shultz "Aquatic Soil" and it looks a lot better.. YMMV

User avatar
bewildered_nmsu
Senior Member
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:39 am
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Thanks for the input alisios. I like the idea of a totally inorganic soil but it just wouldn't fly where I live (7 in. annual rainfall and windy). I think I'm going to try a mix of composted fir bark and this DE. By the way, is that Shultz aquatic soil another DE product?

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

bewildered,
By the way, is that Shultz aquatic soil another DE product?
I believe that it is more like Turface which is a fired clay material. You will probably find that Turface is much less expensive, if you can locate it.
https://www.profileproducts.com/sports_fields/category/item/37

Norm

Cuda52774
Cool Member
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Gnome wrote:bewildered,
By the way, is that Shultz aquatic soil another DE product?
I believe that it is more like Turface which is a fired clay material. You will probably find that Turface is much less expensive, if you can locate it.
https://www.profileproducts.com/sports_fields/category/item/37

Norm
They have it here at the Monastery for about $20 for a 50 lb. bag. Maybe just slightly more expensive than the DE but maybe worth it if there's any doubt that the DE isn't going to work out.

Cuda
Image "Let's put a happy little tree right there."

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Cuda,

I should have worded that more carefully. I meant that Turface would be cheaper than the aquatic soil. Typical of pricing when something is marketed as a specialty product.

Norm

Return to “BONSAI FORUM”