Sunday, April 29, 2007

Organic Aphid Control

All the books claim that it is easy to control aphids. They suggest squishing the bugs or shooting them with a hose. The experts even claim that an aphid will seldom return to a plant from which it has been dislodged.
Well, these organic people have forgotten that ants cultivate aphids in return for the secretions the aphids produce. When a few hundred strong ant colony decides they want aphids on your trees a shot of water or squishing the bugs will not control the problem.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


There is a new product - surficant. I looked it up on wikipedia. It does three things.
1) it helps nutrients emulsify with mixed base - if it is an oil/water nutrient/base mixture.
2) it can coat the leave of a plant; reducing transpiration and reducing the chances of leaf fungi.
3) and most interestingly, it reduces water tension. Water tension is caused by the magnetic properties of H2O. This is why we have such large holes in our pots - the water holds onto itself and does not drain from the pot unless the hole is really big - in which case lots of water comes out at one time, which pulls more water out with it. Water tension is why we have to water some plants twice or three times. The water hits the surface, and because the first part beads off, it all beads off in one magnetic lump.
So surficant reduces water tension.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nitrogen and Leaves

Nitrogen is the nutrient responsible for leaf growth. As such, some sadistic bonsai masters would restrict food from a plant during the spring growing season.

Taub's experiments were meant to determine the difference between low and high amounts of nitrogen feed in 19 species of grasses (1/10th strength and full strength of a complete nutrient product). It turned out there was a 34% increase in leaf mass; a 12% increase in the amount of leaves; but oddly, a 4% reduction in the size of those leaves.

I say feed, feed, feed.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wires on Pines

I started to take the wire off my scotch pine, which I got in a workshop with David Rowe. The wire looked like it could be biting in. The wire was starting to cut in, but only barely and in only a few spots. It was, really, about the perfect time to remove them.

The small branches were happy, but the larger branches had not set. So I unwired the small branches, and left alone all the large branches I had not unwired. I used guy wire to resecure the branches had unwired.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Japanese Maple Fall Color

If one's japanese maple is well fed and properly watered - you will not get showy fall colors.
The japanese maple requires a little stress to show both its fall colors and its variegation/leaf shape. A healthy japanese maple looks more like a green leaf palmatum then whatever else it usually is - though this effect may be very slight.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How much time can you put into one bonsai?

What I mean is how much time can you spend refining a tree?
It takes alot of time to apply wire to every branch!
Before today I did not think it was worth it. However, I needed a small juniper branch to cover a very specific area on the tree. There were 15 branchlettes. I wired the branch to heck, and it did what I wanted it too.

Now I wonder how much more I can do with branches that don't need to be wired to the nines, but could be anyway.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Plant's Personality

Trees are individuals, just like people. And sometimes there are thousands of the same individual, for plants. This is not in reference to a tree's shape, or the history.
From a handful of japanese maples seeds I have maples with red bark and with green bark. I have leaves with very pronounced lobes, some like Canadian flag, others have 3 lobes instead of 5.
From another batch of seedlings, I have one tree which is very sensitive to dryness compared to its siblings. It will droop at the slightest provocation, though its growing conditions were identical (until I learned it was different). By the way - it is not more thirsty, it just wilts faster.

I am wondering how to incorprate such details into my bonsai.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Just to let everyone know to keep an eye out for caterpillars. I found one today curled up in some maple leaves. They had already stuck them all together with its silk. I know this stunts the branch that the caterpillar does this on.

The darn aphids are out in numbers too. I have tries squishing, spraying with a hose, Tabasco and water. This year I am using pesticide. Just whatever Canadian Tire sells.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Maples and Steer Manure

The manager of The Hillside Cannor Nurser told me that maples top dressed with steer manure are less likely to develop several maple blights. The most frequent maple blight averted is whatever causes twigs to blacken and die back.
I was thinking of screening some dried steer manure and replacing a portion of the bark in my soil mix with this. It may not be worth it, if I take proper care of my bonsai.
However, my garden stock could benefit from this - and it certainly wouldn't hurt them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Works on big maples...

My local nurseryperson told me that topdressing maples with steer manure will help prevent various fungi from harming the maple, like those that cause branch blackening and dieback. This is due to bacteria in the steer manure. Chicken manure will do the same for roses.
I wish steer manure came in 2 to 5 mm particles...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

No more pencils, no more books..

In the books they say that in winter one should spend lots of time studying bonsai. This is because the trees are dormant and therefore we do not work on many of them.

Well now it is spring and I have hit the point where I am ignoring my book studies. Buying soil, ordering seedlings, potting, wiring; and most of all enjoying!

My nicest maple is half leaf right now. The leaves are very odd, when half formed.