Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to start a bonsai hobby on a budget

Some of the materials for sale in a
bonsai shop in Diliman Quezon City.
Like most hobbies, bonsai will cost money. The cost will depend on the material and the price of the material will depend on the species, size, trunk, branches and other artistic qualities. 

Materials like the Bantigue, which is found on beaches and islands, is expensive and so are other rare indigenous trees and imported materials. Definitely not for beginners.

The ones I buy are the smaller ones
beside the larger bonsais.
But  local and popular species like balete, bignay, kamuning bilog and haba, mulawin etc. are affordable and if you live in rural areas, they could be collected from mountains for free, but be informed that collecting trees in the wild is regulated by the DENR. I read that because of extensive bonsai hunting, Bantigue and other local indigenous trees are now threatened. In Japan, the practice of yamadori (bonsai hunting) almost wiped out their wild junipers and has since replenished them in the wild.  

Another thing to consider is the size of bonsai you want to keep. I live in a crowded place where I have to pass through narrow eskenitas to get to our house definitely large bonsai is not suitable in this situation. 

Many of their materials are rock grown
 and rock clasping.
So, my materials are small, easy to transport, move around, change places, and maintain. I can lift the pot on the working table without any trouble unlike large bonsai that requires two to three persons to move making it difficult to maintain.

Indoor or outdoor? Mine are all outdoors. Select species suitable for your purpose. Ficuses are suitable indoor bonsai.

Where do I get the materials? If you're like me who do not have the time and the opportunity to hunt in the wild, you can get affordable materials at UP Diliman near the Science Complex. This is where I shop for materials, relatively near where I live. Naterials are also available online now.

Do not buy materials from ordinary gardens shops because they (well, most of them) think that they are selling bonsai when in fact what they are selling are materials. Once I saw a small kalyos material on display in garden shops at Taytay Market, I asked how much it costs, without blinking an eye, the shop owner told me, "Five thousand pesos." I was shocked. I told her that the kalyos is a material and not yet a bonsai, it will still take years before it become one. She was oblivious insisting that it was a bonsai by pointing at the aluminum wires wrapped around a lanky branch--might as as well wrap an aluminum wire around a tomato tree's branch and call it a bonsai.

                                                             How about tools and implements?

These are my "surgical" instruments:
1. Hacksaw blade for reducing trunks and
    cutting large branches
2. Ordinary scissors
3. Itak for cultivating
4. Aluminum wires from junkshops/
     or from meralco linemen
5. Insect spray for aphids and other bugs.
6. Malathion.
7. Sand.
8. Hammer for carving rocks etc.
8. Clipper

How much do these cost?

Clipper= 100 Pesos
Scissors=50 Pesos
Aluminum Wires=250-300 a kilo
Spray=50 Pesos
Hacksaw blade 24 tpi=30 Pesos
Malathion 50=Pesos
Hammer=standard household tool. 
Every house has one.
Fertilizer=Urea, 20 pesos a month

How about pots?

Another article. I'm still learning about it.
How much does it cost?

Most of the materials I buy cost from three to five hundred pesos each, depends on how I haggle with the shop owner. I buy small materials which is six inches to a foot high. Same price as any ordinary garden plants or orchids or roses (not the mini roses).

As for the price of the larger material, they could go from a couple of thousand pesos to twenty thousand up depending on the species and other "artistic" quality of the material. 

I started my hobby with a five hundred pesos.

Of course just as important is education. Engaging in the hobby requires a lot of things to consider like training, defoliating, trimming, repotting, fertilizing, soil mixture, amount of sunlight etc

Soil or medium is important. remember these three thing when choosing your medium.
1. Drains well-prevents root rot.
2, Loose and does not compact.
3. Encourages beneficial microbes growth.

The most common medium used is river sand.

But don't be bothered by these stuffs most local trees will survive and thrive planted in ordinary soil mixed with riversand, in direct sunlight while they are in training. Just don't forget to water the trees and fertilize them, remember they are in pots and have no access to nutrients and water or moisture from the ground. 

All information about these topics are readily available on the internet through local bonsai forums and bonsai blogs. No need to cram, believe me you have all the time in the world to learn about these things. Research.

And the most important requirement: Patience!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

am into exploring bonsai. i live in up village and want to visit the bonsai area where i can buy bonsai materials. can you give me direction how to go there?
thank you.