What one bag of sifted akadama looks like

Bought this off of Amazon a couple of months ago. Finally got around to sifting it. These are gallon ziplock bags. 1.5 bags of aeration layer…could be two depending on how you stuff the bag, 1 bag of 1/8"-1/4" soil and like a 1/4 bag chumei/fines/dust.

It’s probably not the best quality stuff. I’ll be doing a bag of double red line next.

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That’s a fair amount of dust. I usually have less than a sandwich baggie of dust at the end of it all.

Yeah, I thought so as well. It’s not the best quality and will be my last resort for now. I’m gonna need at least two more bags. Probably three. :money_with_wings::money_with_wings::money_with_wings::money_with_wings::money_with_wings::money_with_wings::money_with_wings::sob::sob::sob::sob::sob::sob::sob:

I have a 1/10 (2/20)" geologic sieve that gives me a finer size range appropriate for mame and smaller shohin, to 1/4 ( 5/20)". Keeps smaller trees moist in summer heat! Less waste…
I was amazed at the size range of the akadama I purchased online. Was supposed to be 1/4 to 1/2". Don’t know name brand. Almost half of it was >1/2". 1/4 was fines.
Our local club orders from a reputable Japanese company in bulk. Pricy but wonderfully to work with.
The Double Red Line is a good bet.

Looking at the bag I knew that I’d have a lot of larger pieces. The amount of dust is what was surprising. From the outside it didn’t look that bad. :confused:

Here’s a tip for sieving the dust off. My wife had a vibropower fitness machine but it hurt her back. So onto it I placed a plastic container box with fine aluminium gauze across the top. I put the akadama onto the gauze and set the machine vibrating. It sifts all the dust off no problem and because it’s gentle it doesn’t cause particles to crumble and cause even more dust. Which happens quite a bit when hand sifting. It’s a simple matter of changing the gauze for wire mesh to suit whichever size particles I need. I also do kyriu, grit and pumice the same way. saves a hell of a lot of work.


Haha, while I was sifting it I was like “Man, I need a machine to shake this for me.” :laughing: Then I looked at the bags and bags of diatomaceous earth that I still need to sift and shed a single tear. :cry: My wife and I were watching the muck stream last night and I told her that there’s nothing easy or cheap about bonsai and wondered why I do this to myself lol.


Maybe there’s a business idea there as I bet there’s loads of discarded vibropower machines around the world…

My friend once called that the “twerk machine” :laughing::laughing::laughing:

There is a machine… Roto-Tap. If you find one, its pricy. Maybe runs 2 quarts a at time.
Google it and make your own, larger, like an archeological sieve; except with a moter.
I try to sieve and mix 50 gallons at a time.Three years supply. (Economy of scale!) My 1/2" screan is 20 x 30" suspended. Getting too old for that… Having trouble finding 1/4" lava this cycle… I only have 10 mixed gallons left. That will do 4 medium trees. 20+ need to be repoted…
Good thing I LOVE bonsai…!

Ha Ha Kurt, I’m with you there. I wouldn’t mind paying a couple of pounds more for pre sieved and graded akadama.
I could think of another name for it Bonsai Bentley but decorum prevents me from saying it. Although my wife did use a number of stronger words when it did her back in… :shushing_face:

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I’ve been thinking of getting some soil from American Bonsai. Does anyone have experience with their mixes?

@Mame-Mo I have just ordered their sample kit. I have used their desert drain mix at work to vertical mulch landscape trees. I will give a review once i get the samples in.

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I built my sieves to so they would nest and fit into a large plastic mortar tray. I set the tray on bench at a convenient height, stack up the desired sieves, and slide it back and forth. The tray slides fairly well on the bench as-is, but I am going to make a couple of slippery rails from cheap HDPE (high density polyethene) cutting board so it slides even better. My sieves are made from 1/2" = 13 mm, 1/3" = 9 mm, 1/4" = 6 mm, 1/8" = 3 mm wire mesh and 1/16" = 1 mm window screen. The window screen has a layer of 1/2" wire mesh under it for support.

You want a large area to sieve so that the final loading on the screen is only 1-1.5 particles thick. Otherwise you get some of the smaller particles trapped above the screen and they don’t fall through unless you sieve for a very long time. The screens on mine are about 15" (38 cm) by 30" (76 cm). A smaller mortar box is readily available in the US which could also be used. I included handles so that they could be used to sieve materials in the field - bulk lava or pumice to get rid of the oversized or my garden solid to remove rocks.

This is the same concept as Soil Sifter that Bonsai Mirai sells - https://goods.bonsaimirai.com/collections/bonsai-essentials/products/needs-weight-soil-sifter - but a bit smaller and a bit more portable.

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That looks amazing. Great job. I’ve considered making my own as well. Where did you get the screen?

I purchased the 1/4", 1/2", and aluminum window screen at a big box store, but most hardware stores also carry it by the running foot. I did a google search to find the 1/8" when neither of the local hardware stores had any in stock and I wanted a bunch since I also use it for the bottoms of my grow boxes. I bought the 1/3" from McMaster-Carr - order it by the running foot rather than a flat piece to reduce the shipping. I found out the hard way it is cheaper to ship a roll than a 2 foot square sheet in a large box (they did not flat pack it).

I had a time trying to find the 1/8" screen. Where’d you end up finding it? I’ve been wanting to use it for the bottom of grow boxes as well instead of drilling a trillion holes.

I bought mine from Amazon = Garden Zone 36x50 1/8-Inch Hardware Cloth . It was $67 in Sept of 2018. $129 to reorder today. McMaster-Carr also lists it for $1.42 - $2.35 per foot depending upon the length. McMaster was also my source for the 3x3. I like to use the 1/4 - 1/4 inch for the drainage layer and in some of the larger grow boxes…

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Watching the streams always makes me horny to do some bonsai. After tonight’s stream I decided to sift my bag of Double Redline brand akadama. Much better results this time. :grin: That other stuff is straight up crapadama. :joy: