Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pampahiyang and my New bonsai project and how its done


I stopped making new bonsai projects about two years ago because I lost materials. One reason was that I had become too busy with work and the other  was that I think I had become sloppy with the handling of the materials, overconfidence, maybe. 

So, I took a step back and let the "malas" or bad luck run out before I begin another project.


This is my new material a tugas (vitex parviflora), a variety of molave prevalent in Mindanao. I ordered the material before the long Halloween  weekend and it arrived three days later, Wednesday. It had been in shipping transit for almost a week but the outstanding packaging assured that the material was well hydrated and according to the supplier, could last ten days without dying.

How to do bonsai. The process is really simple.

Let's clear something before we begin, I am not a bonsai expert. I am a simple hobbyist who have no relevant training to speak of nor did I won in any exhibits. I am simply sharing what I know and my  experiences. 

1. Unpack the material and then wash with mild organic soap like Perla. This is necessary to remove fungus, lichens, molds and other organism that are present in the bark and the soil that could develop and hurt the materials while in the "resuscitation" stage.



 This can be done later, but I checked the viewing side of the material. A little imagination is needed here to visualize the growth of branches and foliage and to show which angle of the tree would be the best for viewing. But the primary consideration, at this stage, was the trunk, things like, movement, tapering, etc.

So, I rotated the materials 360 degrees, looked at it near and far. And this is also a good time to work on the trunk and stump branches (or abang) to remove what is unnecessary liked crossed branching because it will be very difficult to work on it once branches and foliage has grown. So, you can work on those stump branches or you can turn them into a deadwood.

But you could also wait later, Personally, after some heartbreaks of removing branches only to realize later that it was necessary, I  now prefer to work on branches when the foliage have grown and I could see an outline. Remember, removing branches is easy but growing them back takes years. So, think about removing branches thoroughly, do not rush at it because the tree reveals a lot about itself as it develops. you just have to wait. Keep those awkward branches until you are very sure of the need to remove it. What I'm saying is that you don't have to rush anything.



2. Medium preparation. 

Medium is the "soil" where the tree is planted. The most commonly used is river sand because it drains, has good water retention, and it does not compact like ordinary soil.  

Here I'm using a strainer to separate the different grades of sand.


In theory, you can use any medium as long as these things are present.
  •  drains well
  •  does not compact
  • promotes and hosts good bacteria and other beneficial organism
  • heterogeneous, means it is made up of  many stuff like soil, pebbles, and organic stuff. This is important because many beginners think that construction sand is a good medium but the composition of construction sand is homogeneous, it is made up of the same white stuff in different sizes. try one experiment, put an earthworm there and check if it will live and thrive in there.
Remember the basic rule of medium preparation: pebbles at the bottom, to facilitate draining; rough grains in the second layer for drain and for aeration and to promote root growth at the same time prevents root rot, and finest grain at the top, to trap moisture in; sort of a lid cover.

3. Potting. You can use an expensive bonsai pot or any plastic container, the important thing is that the material is well placed in the medium. Fancy container could come later in the finishing stages which would be a few years from now.

Anyway, immerse the material into the medium. Make sure that there no vacuum in the contact points. Pouring water while the material is being covered by the medium helps to remove these air pockets.

Tie the material well to the pot to secure the material, any movement could damage the fragile little roots that are starting breaking out which may kill the material.

Of course, the dog is optional. Hehehehe...





4. "Kulob" method. Here the material is wrapped in plastic cover the whole material including the pot. This is done trap moisture and heat in which is necessary for the resuscitation of the material. It's the material's personal green house, an ICU tent. Colloquially among bonsai hobbyists, this process is called, fittingly, the ICU.

Before, I used root hormone but I found out that they are next to useless. I mean maybe they help, but there materials where I used hormones and they died just the same. I guess, it helps the hobbyists more than the material. But root hormones, which is Vit. B complex, helps  to prevent shock and to minimize the stress of re-potting trees. Some use hormones periodically to promote healthy tree roots.

After the ICU, place the material in a secure place free of jerking movements and other disturbances especially from pets and other animals. Do not water everyday, the plastic effectively traps moisture, so water about two weeks in interval.

It's time to wait. In about two weeks, a sprout could come out. But there times, in my experience, that I waited months before a little bud appeared, the material took a long while to get out of its stasis. But as long as the material is still green, you can check this by nipping the bark, there's hope.

Anyway, I'll post about the development of this material.

Maybe my wife has seen me do this to the scores of my materials and maybe she was wondering at what I'm doing. My wife does not ask, as long as I'm happy with what I do, she's very supportive. 

But of course, I keep the cost of these materials a secret from her. Not because she would be angry but I feel guilty spending money on these dead woods. I guess most "impoverished" bonsai hobbyist are like this. Anyway, got this material for 600 pesos plus about 500 for shipping. That's why I stopped acquisition after a few of my materials died. But anyway, the cost is really an investment, in my case an emotional and maybe has potential for monetary returns in the future, but for the moment, I just enjoy my trees.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


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