Removing more pine air-layers.

Yesterday I worked on weeding.  We have not had to water the field for a few weeks because of the past rains.  However, that has created a lot of weeds.  My Mom always used to say that God put created weeds to stop us from becoming lazy.  During the afternoon I took a break from the weeding.  I decided to check on the Japanese black pine air-layers.  I took some a few months ago.  It is amazing the there were about a half dozen more that had sufficient roots to be removed.  It is interesting that in a short few months that more trees rooted out.  We have had a rainy October but November has been fairly mild.  Today looks like more weeding.  To break up the day I will work on cleaning up some field dug trees to prep them for next years shows.

Transplanting and cleaning up.

The last few days have been spent cleaning up the nursery and transplanting trees.  I culled all the dead plants and dumped out the soil.  Then I stacked the cans and put them into the correct piles.  Today and the past few days, I have been transplanting the cuttings that I took in spring.  I transplanted some dwarf ivy, cotoneaster, procumbens juniper, common juniper and dwarf olives.  I have also been pulling the old needles off of the pines that I have dug out earlier this year.

Harvesting Japanese black pine air-layers.

Yesterday I removed some of the Japanese black pine air-layers that I did early this spring.  Only a handful of them were ready this year.  Most of them are still not fully rooted.  I suspect our strange weather pattern this year had something to do with that.  We had an extremely cold winter followed by a spring, summer and fall with very mild temperatures.  The air-layers that I did last year, using a new method have not fully rooted either.  The new method that I used last year consisted of me using wire to girdle the air-layer area rather than removing the bark.  It seems that the area that is girdled is just now starting to swell.  The tops of the air-layers seem very vigorous.  I hope that these air-layers will be rooted by this spring.  I think the new method is a bust.  I think that the air-layers got bigger, but it seems that it is taking a year longer to work.  I think I will go back to the old method.  I have taken some pictures of some of the air-layers that I removed.  If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me at

If you want to see a close-up of the picture, just click on the photo.

Freezing weather!

Today we had frost on the ground.  I have been working on the sucker growth that surrounds the base of the ume(dwarf apricot).  Some trees have many suckers and some have a few.  The interesting thing was that several of them had roots attached as I cut them from the base of the tree.  Since my father taught me not to be wasteful, I cut them back and planted them into a container.  I think I have rescued about 40 so far.  After I cut the sucker growth I have been weeding around the base and have been feeding them a slow release fertilizer.  I think the soil is getting tired and I thought it is time to boost the growth.  On a different subject, I bought a bag of growstones.  I know this sounds like magic rocks that you plant your bonsai trees in, but it is actually a very interesting product.  I was first introduced to them in a plant industry magazine.  Growstones are made from recycled glass.  They are fired under a proprietary system that inject air into the mixture and you get a product that is quite light.  I bought a bag of the larger growstones when I was at the bonsai convention in Riverside.  I took some plants and emptied my bonsai soil out of the pot and carefully took the plant out of the bulb pan.  I put the growstones in the bottom and put the plant back in.  Then I covered the root area carefully with more growstones and then topped it off with my bonsai soil mix.  Then I put them back on the bench and watered well. When I picked up the container, they weigh about half as much as with the bonsai soil mix by itself.  The growstones come in a large size and a small size.  The large size is about 3/4 inch in size and slightly larger.  The small size is about 3/8 of an inch to just below 1/2 an inch in size.  My next experiment will be to buy the smaller size growstones and just use it alone to plant the field grown bonsai stock into.  The growstones are used in decorative pots and in hydroponics.  I think if the plant starts to take hold in the pot, I could slowly feed the plant and the porous stones will hold the water and the fertilizer and slowly feed the tree.  I think if it works, I may buy the pallet quantities of the growstones.  I may also think about mixing it into my nursery soil mix to lighten the containers weight.  I will let you know how my experiments are going.

Weather roulette!

Today was a hodge podge of weather.  Early in the morning we had a steady cold rain.  After the rain, it was cloudy.  Then the sunshine peaked through with an occasional cloud passing by.  In the afternoon, the clouds became darker and we had a sudden hail storm.  I have been working on removing the sucker growth from around the ume plants.  Initially they are good for thickening the base of the trunk, but later they take all the energy from the main trunk and must be removed.  At least I did not have to water today.  Tomorrow is suppose to be a nice sunny day and Sunday we may get more rain.

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