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iLabs: “Fred” Gets a Trim!!!!

September 21, 2012

Well, it’s been a hectic hectic week – Bugfest, Homeschool classes, visitors and all – a great time, but we have been remiss in catching everyone up on our lab goings-on. Updates are due to you all on:

  • Winogradsky project
  • Mushroom growing project
  • Fungi classes
  • Vinegar experiment
  • Answers to a couple more snail questions
  • New things in the works
  • And some more commentary on the “scourge that is Spirogyra”

And I promise, these are coming. But before we dig into all of those, I need to take care of one other thing for which I have been REALLY remiss, and that is Fred.  Yes, Fred…our bonsai tree.

He started out as my Mother’s Day present and knowing he would die in my house, I brought him to the lab, hooked him up to a soil moisture sensor, and engaged the help of the public in keeping him watered, but not overwatered. They do best between 20-30% soil moisture, at least ours does.

To date, the effort has been a success. A gentleman visited us a couple of months ago, spent a fair bit of time examining Fred, then said to me “Fred is very happy here. Now, what are you going to do about feeding and trimming him?”

I could tell from the intense eyes and serious voice, this was a man who knew bonsai in his soul. My response was  honest and quick, “I am researching those as we speak.”  I knew he meant business and genuinely cared about Fred’s welfare.
Well I am happy to say I found tools, books and food. The food is an organic variety, with low but equal numbers of Nitrogen, Potassium , and Phosphorus. The sources I consulted said it was okay to have lower numbers or higher numbers but that the critical thing was that they were all the same amount. Apparently this way root growth and canopy growth, stay about even. With the canopy and roots in balance, the plant is balanced and thus, happy.

I fed Fred about 2 weeks ago, and he is doing marvelously. In fact, his canopy has gotten like a hairdo that is months-overdue to be cut.

THAT is the one thing I’ve been terrified of….cutting him. I kept looking at the books and they spoke of styling the tree, and training the tree, and patterns of appearance and….I just kept avoiding it.

But the problem is, being so happy, Fred is growing quickly, and he’s going to die unless I get his canopy balanced with his roots. And in a shallow pot that means  the canopy cannot get too big.

So, with much trepidation, I picked up the trimming tools today and headed for Fred. I have trimmed him back…..maybe too much. I’ll let you be the judge of that. Keep Fred in your thoughts. Hopefully he will flourish, even as he has had a trim by a VERY novice stylist…….

Next up for Fred, IF he survives his haircut, then we’ll start “training his limbs” …but I haven’t gotten to that chapter in the book yet. :)

A view of our Bonsai from the top, pre-cutting

Here is a shot of Fred from the top, prior to his “haircut”

Another shot of the bonsai before cutting

Another shot of Fred before we got started

The tree clippings pile up

The clippings pile up, next to the tools being used to trim Fred

Photo of Bonsai post-trimming

The aftermath…..at least he still has branches.

A newly trimmed bonsai

A newly trimmed “Fred” next to all his beautiful branches trimmed off.

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