I have to pass on the Iron Curtain series this weekend, because my mind and my hands are now fully occupied by work that won’t wait – repotting my trees. I only have this weekend for the deciduous trees and next weekend for the conifers, because after that the trees would be too grown and I would not be able to touch them without risking they die as a result. Which I do not want.
Currently my trees are more about quantity than about quality, because creating high quality bonsai takes time and I am only doing it for twenty five years. The plan is to build up stock now and refine it when I retire. Growing bonsai trees is not something for the impatient. But I have some medium to good quality ones already and I will share pictures. (I also have trouble getting my hands on quality bonsai pots, because they are not sold anywhere near and I am reluctant to buy them over the internet).
Here is a glimpse into the work that I am currently doing:
It starts with buying a load of coarse sand and spreading it out to dry in the sun. That does not need to be done, strictly speaking, but I find it easier to work with dry substrate so I try to dry it as much as possible. Another ingredience to the sand is high-quality soil or compost, sieved through a 5 mm mesh and also dried if possible. And last ingredience is peat or some suitable substitute, like shredded old leaves and moss and twigs, or maybe even saw dust. The organic material is there mostly to hold moisture and stop the substrate from clumping.
Next step is mixing up the substrate. Because I have a lot of trees and other potted plants, this used to be the most time consuming and tiring part, taking up hours of hard work. Nowadays I am doing it in a concrete mixer. A great saving of time and strength, I do not understand how I could manage without it. I was younger, healthier and I had less money but more time on my hands, so there’s that.
Whilst I am mixing suitable ammount of substrate, lets say 100 liters or so for starters, I also have to scrub and disinfect all the pots and bowls that are currently not in use. That is, I take them out, rinse them with boiling water and let them dry in the sun. That seems enough, I never had problem with fungal infections or rotting roots. I do not have enough pots to replant all trees at once, so I have to repeat this process multiple times as pots are emptied.
When the pots are ready and the substrate mixed, it is time to take out my most important tool case. Have fun trying to spot all the tools that are in it. All are used for tree care. And just in case someone can decipher the writing on that lid in top left corner – that is not actual mustard, just the cup in which once was mustard. Now it is full of charcoal to treat big cuts on roots.