page contents The Little Bonsai: Different Soil for Different Crops - さまざまな作物のための異なる土壌

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Different Soil for Different Crops - さまざまな作物のための異なる土壌

First and foremost, to find out the right soil and pH level for your trees is not rocket science. The pH scale indicates acidity or alkalinity. A soil with a pH number below 7 is acid, while one with a pH above 7 is alkaline. Garden plants typically grow best in neutral or slightly acid soil (pH 7 or slightly below; see illustration at left). Most won't thrive in highly acid or highly alkaline soil, though a few have adapted to such extremes. In general, some nutrients cannot be efficiently absorbed by plant roots if soil pH is too high. If it is too low, on the other hand, nutrients may be taken up too efficiently: the excess cannot be processed fast enough and overloads a plant's system, causing it to languish and die.

Local climate gives you a clue to the likely soil pH. In high-rainfall areas, soils are often acid. It's in these regions that you tend to find acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, and blueberries. Alkaline soils, in contrast, are typically found in low-rainfall areas. Many of the plants popular for waterwise gardens--sorts that need little water once they are established--do well in soil on the alkaline side. The olive, native to the Mediterranean basin, is one example of a plant that thrives in alkaline soil; oleander (Nerium oleander) and pomegranate also perform well.

If you're not sure about your soil's pH, you can test it yourself with one of the inexpensive test kits sold at most garden centers. Such kits can be relied on to tell you whether your soil is basically alkaline, acid, or neutral. If you suspect that your soil is highly alkaline or acid--or if a do-it-yourself kit so indicates--you may want to confirm the diagnosis with a professional soil test. Such tests are analyzed by laboratories; along with the results, you'll normally receive recommendations for correcting the pH of the soil tested.

Lime, available in either ground or powdered form, is often suggested to raise pH. Ground limestone is the slightly less potent of the two and raises pH more slowly. The amount needed depends on the soil texture (more is needed for clay than for sandy soil, for example) and other factors. Wood ashes and oyster shell also make acid soil more neutral.

To lower pH, common sulfur is the least expensive choice, though ferrous sulfate and aluminum sulfate are sometimes recommended instead. Ferrous sulfate, which also adds iron to the soil, is of the most help to plants that show yellow leaves as well as overall poor health. You'll also lower the pH of alkaline soil over time by regularly applying organic amendments such as compost and manure.

To determine how much lime or sulfur to add, follow the advice included with your test results. If your soil is extremely acidic or alkaline and you need to change the level by more than one point on the pH scale, it's best to bring in a professional: he or she can both analyze test results and perform an on-site evaluation to determine whether the soil can be amended successfully and how best to go about it.

If amending the soil just isn't feasible, plant in raised beds filled with problem-free, well-amended topsoil; or choose native plants that thrive in the unamended soil.

ph tester
Professional Soil Tester Three Way Meter
Foods for example can be classified into two groups namely the acidic food group and the alkaline food group. These foods are categorized as such because they affect the urine pH level when they are consumed. Hence, taking in too much acidic food will lead to systemic acidosis whereas too much ingestion of alkaline foods may also lead to severe alkalosis. Nevertheless, the proper balance of acidic and alkaline food intake is required for various purposes.

To understand more about this concept, it is important to know about the pH scale. This scale runs from 0 to 14 with the bottom half (0 to 7) belonging to the acidic range and the upper half (7.1 to 14) belonging to the alkaline range. Under normal circumstances, the human body tries to maintain a slightly alkaline pH of 7.4 through mineral deposition and withdrawal from bones and soft tissues. It is said that 50%-80% of the daily food intake must come from alkaline foods to retain the body’s acid-base equilibrium.

Alkaline foods include fruits (citrus, watermelons, papaya, mango, grapes, melons, pears, apples, banana, kiwis, peaches, pineapples, cherries, avocados), a range of vegetables (parsley, spinach, okra, broccoli, squash, celery, green beans, carrots, beets, lentils, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips), oils (grape seed oil, olive oil, canola oil) and other food products like goat cheese, hazelnuts, chestnuts, raw sugar and wild rice among others.

Popular examples of acidic foods are blueberries, prunes, cranberries, white bread, prunes, pasta, wheat, pork, beef, shellfish, ice cream, peanuts, beer, alcohol, string beans, kidney beans, walnuts, plums, store-bought juices, rye bread, brown rice, organ meats, eggs, cold water fish, pumpkin, eggs, sesame seeds, corn oil, sunflower seeds, fatty dairy products, honey, margarine, lima beans, skinless potatoes, navy beans, pinto beans, canned fruits, oats, white rice, cashews, coffee, pistachios, wine, turkey, chicken, lamb and majority of condiments.

There are many health conscious folks that believe that an alkaline rich diet is better than its acidic counterpart. Having such will prevent too much acid from accumulating in the bloodstream as well as reduce the risk of degenerative disorders such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancers to name a few.

1. Basically, majority of fruits, grains and vegetables are alkaline foods while meat products are usually acidic in nature.

2. Because the body is slightly alkaline in nature, you must make sure to eat enough alkaline-rich foods because it is a lot healthier compared to eating too much acidic foods.

The story of Masanobu Fukuoka

Masanobu Fukuoka
Masanobu Fukuoka taking care of rice fields
Fukuoka was a plant scientist working in Japan in the 1940s, advising the government on the best crops and edible plants to sustain the country during the war. Shortly afterwards, he had something of an epiphany about science, and gave up his job and returned to the countryside to farm.

Science, Fukuoka concluded, is part of the problem, not the solution. It only seems to solve problems that it created in the first place, like a man who breaks his own roof and then is pleased with himself when he manages to fix it. When fields are ploughed, or trees are pruned, farmers create problems for themselves which mean more work. Convinced there was a ‘natural’ way to farm without all these techniques, Fukuoka began experimenting with how little he could do. “I was aiming at a pleasant, natural way of farming” he said, “which results in making the work easier instead of harder. ‘How about not doing this? How about not doing that?’ – that was my way of thinking”

Up in the mountains, he developed a method (or rather a non-method) that flies in the face of modern farming. “I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plow, no need to apply fertiliser, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide” he wrote. “When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary.”

This conclusion required a good deal of trial and error, and lots of dead plants along the way. The One Straw Revolution tells his story, from his start as an idealistic young man to a troublesome visionary with a constant string of visiting experts, researchers, and travelling hippies wishing to learn his secrets.

Those secrets include such imaginative ideas as planting one crop before the other is harvested, so
the one straw revolution book
Bestseller Book The One Straw Revolution
that the new crop gets the jump on any weeds. Fukuoka grew his vegetables ‘semi-wild’ on the mountain slopes, sometimes pressing seeds into balls of clay so they wouldn’t be eaten by the birds, and then throwing them out to take their chances. He farmed rice and barley, harvesting it and scattering the straw straight back onto the fields, a policy of “returning to the soil everything grown in the field except the grain itself”. Nitrogen fixing ‘green fertiliser’ such as white clover grew across the ground in between crops and across the orchard floor around his citrus trees. Chickens and ducks roamed free and ate the insects.

But, you don’t really read The One Straw Revolution for gardening tips. For one thing, it’s only directly relevant to Japan. More importantly, the book is as much a work of philosophy as it is a life story or an explanation of natural agriculture. Fukuoka believed that we don’t really know anything about how nature works, and that much of modern farming was setting itself up for failure. He rails against growing out of season vegetables that are a “watery concoction of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, with a little help from the seed”, and Japan’s growing taste for meat. He predicted that if the Japanese diet continued to change the way it was, there would be a food crisis in thirty years time. In that he was not uncorrect – Japan is the world’s biggest food importer, and has led the charge in land-leasing deals in Africa.

“If we do have a food crisis it will not be caused by the insufficiency of nature’s productive power, but by the extravagance of human desire”, he wrote, advocating a simpler lifestyle closer to nature. His simple living code extends to work too. “I do not particularly like the word ‘work'” he writes in my favourite little passage. “Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think this is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their living by living.”

Fukuoka is an amiable and ingenious writer, and The One Straw Revolution is full of passion for the earth and its generosity, and bemused irreverence towards false ideas of progress. You won’t agree with everything he says, perhaps his views on education and health in particular, but this is nevertheless an unusually wise and refreshing read.

Interesting Books on Bonsai can be found here:

The Complete Book of Bonsai --> I've been into bonsai for 25 years and this is the basic Bible for beginner and intermediate bonsai enthusiasts. It has an excellent section on techniques, including pruning, wiring and whatnot, and it has a large species-specific tree guide. If you're into bonsai and want only one book, this is it.

Indoor Bonsai The Great Selection --> Creating beautiful, healthy bonsai is a wonderful skill that anyone can learn, with a little time, patience, and this all-inclusive manual. With color photos and drawings to illustrate the points, it introduces all the cultivation techniques; offers expert advice on location, soil types, watering, and pest control; and provides intricate instruction on training the bonsai--including pruning, wiring and stretching it.

The Secret Techniques of Bonsai --> In The Secret Techniques of Bonsai, the author of the groundbreaking Bonsai With American Trees teams up with his son to offer not only the basics for creating perfect bonsai, but also secret techniques they’ve developed over years of careful work and observation.

Bonsai Survival Manual --> Problem solving when your Bonsai get sick. Expand your gardening repertoire as you create a captivating and exquisite miniature world. In this introductory guide, Colin Lewis covers everything you need to know to design, grow, and successfully maintain attractive bonsai.

Bonsai and the art of Penjing --> Bonsai & Penjing, Ambassadors of Beauty and Peace describes how Chinese penjing and North American bonsai were later added to the Museum, making its collection the most comprehensive in the world. Stories of individual trees and forest plantings are featured, as are the roles played by the skilled and talented creators of these living art forms people such as John Naka, Saburo Kato, Yuji Yoshimura, Harry Hirao, and Dr. Yee-Sun Wu.

Bonsai with Japanese Maples --> With their delicate foliage, seasonal color changes, and intricate pattern of branching, Japanese maples are among the most popular and suitable plants for bonsai design. In this long-awaited book, internationally renowned expert Peter Adams discusses both the specific horticultural needs of Japanese maples as bonsai subjects and illustrates proven techniques for creating and maintaining beautiful specimens.

The Modern Bonsai Practice --> The most current, useful information on growing Bonsai. Fresh, practical, definitive, comprehensive reference guide to the finest art of horticulture: growing miniature trees. Common sense bonsai answers separating myth from fact with depth and detail. Appropriate for both bonsai hobbyists and experienced practitioners.

More Bonsai articles can be found here:

Please click here for more information on --> Chinese Penjing Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Origins of Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Art of Saikei Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Japanese Tanuki Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> How to Water a Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Bonsai Healing Methods

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