Green Dream is one of those products that is spoken about in whispers as some kind of miracle elixir. It was created by UK bonsai artist Colin Lewis who now lives in the US – and sells the same product there from his website. In the UK it’s available from Kaizen Bonsai. So what’s in Green Dream? Let’s just say you don’t want to use this product if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or interested in animal welfare. In the FAQs on the UK supplier’s site, it lists the following:
- Blood meal – a source of nitrogen. Personally I feel that animal blood is over the top when nitrogen can be found in compost or any other rotting organic matter. Most likely the blood is an abattoir side-product, and associated with animal cruelty.
- Feather meal – also a source of nitrogen and a side-product of the poultry processing industry – not known for its animal welfare standards either.
- Cocoa shells – are the husks from processing cacao beans for chocolate. In theory this might be positive for your trees since cocoa (and its shells – known as Cocoa Bean Shells or “CBS”) contain bioactive compounds such as polyphenols. The polyphenols in chocolate products “comprise mainly catechins, flavonol glycosides, anthocyanins and procyanidins”ref – of these, flavonols and anthocyanins are both flavonoids, known to support the symbiosis of roots with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as well as nitrogen-fixing bacteriaref
- CBS also contain theobromineref, which is toxic to aquatic animals, cats and dogs at reasonably low levels, so please be careful if you are using this product where cats or dogs can access it.
- Dried organic seaweed – since seaweed is a plant itself it contains all the nutrients plants require – including many of the micronutrients which don’t appear in standard fertilizer, such as sulphur, as well as plant metabolites which can support the growth of mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Seaweed extracts have been known to promote plant growth.ref
- Vinasse – is the by-product of sugar ethanol production. It is a potassium source and a “soil fertility improver because it promotes deep root development, nutrient lixiviation and increases considerably the sugarcane yield”ref however there has been controversy over its use due to environmental damage from the high organic content.ref
- Slow release compound fertiliser with an analysis of N.6% – P.5% – K.7%.
- With added trace elements. Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Boron, Molybdenum (probably from the seaweed and vinasse)
Overall I won’t be using Green Dream Original as I am a vegetarian and don’t wish to use animal products from cruel farming practices for my bonsai. Also, I have a dog and don’t want to put him at risk.
The product is labelled as an organic fertiliser but this doesn’t mean its ingredients are organically produced in the same way as food: What is organic fertiliser?
In researching this article I also looked into another product on Kaizen Bonsai’s website – Green Dream Rapeseed Meal. Rapeseed is also known as canola, it’s a Brassica vegetable whose seeds are grown used for oil, which is used as vegetable oil in cooking, and as a biofuelref Since 28.3 million metric tons of rapeseed oil was produced worldwide in 2020/21ref, there is a heck of a lot of rapeseed meal to dispose of! Rapeseed meal is used as an animal feed, due to its relatively high protein content, and traditionally was used in China as a fertilizer. This is probably because China is the second largest producer and consumer of rapeseed oil and so has a lot of meal.
The meal has plant nutrients in it, because it’s made from plants, you can see a full breakdown here. Aside from the NPK listed on the label, according to the Canola Council it also contains almost every other nutrient a plant needs (see Nutrients for Trees), except for boron and nickel, so a bit like seaweed this can provide some of the trace elements that aren’t always available in the soil or in standard fertilizers.
There is a research paperref breaking down the compounds found in rapeseed meal, of these only one has any known effect on plant growth and that’s kaempferol – we came across it over in the HB-101 Analysis – it encourages the growth of endomycorrhizal fungi which aid nutrient uptake in roots.
One thing to know about rapeseed meal is that when it’s not dressed up as a bonsai fertilizer, it can purchased for quite a bit less. I found 20kg available for less than £14 (including delivery to UK mainland) at this site selling animal feed.