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I've heard it mentioned before that Japanese people use chicken manure in their bonsai soil mix.

Is this a good idea? If so, what quantities should I be mixing in to the soil?

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    It is going to contain a lot of nitrogen - ie. good fertilizer; but I suspect you don't need much. – winwaed Jun 14 '11 at 2:17
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    How soon are you going to use the soil/mix? Chicken poop is pretty hot. – Tim Jun 14 '11 at 14:11
  • @Tim - I have quite a few so I need to re-pot a few times a year. But nothing in a rush. I can wait, but I'm looking for as much accurate info as possible. If I need to wait, I need to know exactly how long I should be waiting. – going Jun 15 '11 at 3:00
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Chicken manure is an excellent resource because it contains the highest N-P-K rating amongst all other organic matter, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The japanese people do know what they are doing when it comes to mixing this type of manure with bonsai. I would say only a handful of organic matter is needed.

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    Thanks for the answer. This would be even greater if you know of a mix (with quantities) that contain chicken manure? Most bonsai info is buried in forums and I haven't used it myself. – going Jun 15 '11 at 2:56
  • "highest N-P-K", not really. Rabbit manure, bat guano, alfalfa meal, fish emulsion -- all organic matter with higher N-P-K analysis. – bstpierre Jun 16 '11 at 18:00
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    @bstpierre - very rarly can you purchase bat guano, nor can you get fish emulsion in shops. If you want to be that technical, we can be, but this site is about answers that can help our fellow gardeners, and chicken manure is easily available and does contain the highest N-P-K rating. – JonH Jun 16 '11 at 21:59
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    Point taken. Just a thought: if you can't get fish emulsion at your local shop, you should look elsewhere. I use it regularly; ordered from Fedco OGS as part of my yearly supplies restock. Not really on-topic for this question though; I can't imagine the stink the OP's bonsai would have after adding fish! – bstpierre Jun 17 '11 at 13:04
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There is a product, Jobe's organic fertilizer, that contains nutrients that are from, among other sources, poultry manure. It is low enough in analysis to not be a worry as to burning a bonsai tree. I have just sprinkled the "all purpose" mix, I believe it is called on the top of the soil of my bonsais. The bag gives amounts to use depending on size of pot. Even this considers all potted plants it seems reasonable for bonsais. The reviews on this product which I ran across by accident were excellent so I hope to see some interesting results.

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We just wing it with our chicken poop. WE clean out the coop/house that has bedding in it and mix it with the other compost pile. WE let that work its way into compost/mulch/whatever for "a while". No time period specifically - it just has to look right. (decomposed/etc)

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  • I also have chooks and mix it in with the compost. But do you use this in a bonsai mix? – going Jun 16 '11 at 9:15
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While Chicken/and Bat droppings are indeed high in N-P-K I will advise you NOT to add this your soil mix. My wife did this many many years ago and killed a large selection of our early bonsai.

I would actually advise you not to use such a high strength organic fertilizer at all on bonsai. What keep bonsai at their healthiest and happiest is when they have a steady flow of fertilizer in low strengths. Since bonsai are usually watered every day they receive a continue slow addition of fertilizer, since the soils drain freely and don't hold much nutrients this is necessary.

Here is a selection of excellent fertilizers specifically intended for growing bonsai.
Bonsai Fertilizers

If you want to make your own fertilizer cakes (as many people do) here is a great link to an article by the Columbus Bonsai Society on Making Fertilizer Balls

We do sometimes water with MiracleGrow just like you would fruits or vegetables but remember that the salts will wash out of the pots after a few waterings (assuming you have proper bonsai soil) so it is mostly for foliar feeding.

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