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tapla wrote: That is exactly what I grow all my houseplants, all the woody material I grow on as potential bonsai, and all my bonsai in. Those that don't yet understand the importance of a soil's structure, place a higher value on a rich black appearance than they do on what is actually the most important attribute of a container soil, which is its ability to hold enough air so that 'soggy soil' does not become a limiting factor. Unfortunately, it's the commercially prepared water-retentive soils based on peat and fine particles from which the largest impediments to success arise.
While many shun anything technical or scientific when it comes to improving growing skills, knowledge is the quickest and surest way to success, especially when compared to the experience gained from trial and error. Knowledge is where the ability to delineate between practices that are likely to yield poor results and practices conducive to success. Without knowledge, we're traveling in the dark and as apt to bump into a boulder as we are to follow a favorable path.
In my travels and efforts here I get to see the value of knowledge accumulated every day first hand as it relates to our abilities as growers; and if the number of people showing up in my D-mail and email is any indication of the value placed on reliable information, a large % of other growers, regardless of their status as beginners, intermediate growers, or experts, do as well.
The ingredients that go into the soil are: screened Turface, as seen in the picture below at lower left; crushed granite, aka Gran-I-Grit in grower size or #2 cherrystone; and screened pine or fir bark. The 3 ingredients mixed i equal measure by volume makes a really great soil that is tremendously healthy for roots, the heart of the plant. A similar soil can be made from pine bark fines (5 parts) and i part each of perlite and sphagnum peat. Note though: what makes these soils so productive and easy to grow in isn't what they are made of, it's how they are structured.
By gaining a little understanding of something as fundamental (and too often ignored) as the importance of adequate air in the root zone, and how to provide the aeration that makes a soil a healthy one, certainly all beginners to growing can take one giant step forward; with growers at every other level of expertise also being able to enjoy the fruits of that understanding. If it wasn't so pivotally important, I'd be trying to help by addressing other issues.