A few pine seeds, 6 years later.

KennedyMarx

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Eric, do you use a larger percentage of akadama in the soil mix for the containers? I'm just wondering if there should be more substance for the roots to grow into besides the air spaces between the lava and pumice.
 

Eric Schrader

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Eric, do you use a larger percentage of akadama in the soil mix for the containers? I'm just wondering if there should be more substance for the roots to grow into besides the air spaces between the lava and pumice.
No, I use a standard 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 mixture. The proportions don't have to be exact in my opinion. You want the trees to get plenty of water, but not more than they can absorb. I have found that if you cut the soil to a leaner mixture, like 1/5 akadama, that you get trees that are harder to keep vigorous. I have three that I did this to last year and they seem to need more fertilizing attention than the others....and more water applications.
 

Eric Schrader

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How large is your 2nd pond-basket in these photos?

Thanks.
I believe they are 14" square by about 11" deep. Most of them are now broken. The plastic is not super durable; the sun seems to make it brittle after about 3-4 years. The smaller ones are sometimes more durable, but I've had good and bad batches.
 

aframe

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If you think about it, you need to get the scarring to be more severe at the bottom and less severe as you go up so you don't get reverse taper on the trunk. But I've not tried it so perhaps the actual results after 8-10 years is not what I expect.
Hey Eric,
I've intentionally let wire bite into over 10 of a batch of ~28 JBP, JRP and scots seedlings; if you'd like to see the results PM me and I'll post 'em; I didn't want to post pics in this great thread. the only things I can say after 2 years is the 'scarring method' does thicken the trunk more quickly, as you already know. It also seems to induce the tree to bark up more quickly; but so what I guess - we shouldn't be excited about bark at year 3 of a 15-20 year project. You are right about the reverse taper; I've found that this can dealt with by unwinding from the top down periodically throughout the growing season; seems to work so far. I'll start taking more pics.
and thanks; what a great thread and progression!
 
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thumblessprimate1

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I've actually got the problem of too much root spread on some of the trees. The near-pancake effect will make it hard to get the roots into a shohin container without making a bad cut. That means that I'll have to allow the trees to get larger and control the root spread to get them into a pot that it proportionally appropriate.
That's an interesting and valuable point. Thank you.
 

Eric Schrader

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Last we left this tree:
The tree above a couple years later, this one is actually from a younger batch but coming along nicely, I think it is currently 6 years old:
I repotted the tree into an over-size bonsai container last winter from the basket. It grew well over the summer.

Prior to decandling and pruning the remaining large branches:



After decandling and pruning from the other side:



July in the garden, buds looking strong:



November 2014, the needles grew well, the tree is quite strong and needs to be thinned and wired again:



After needle pulling, bud thinning and wiring...starting to look like a bonsai:

 

Vance Wood

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Very nice results. It is too bad you only started with a limited number. A little fore thought you could make some decent money and have a good deal of fun doing it.
 

jeanluc83

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Very nice results. It is too bad you only started with a limited number. A little fore thought you could make some decent money and have a good deal of fun doing it.
On this note, how many seedlings did you start with and how many do you currently have?
 

Eric Schrader

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On this note, how many seedlings did you start with and how many do you currently have?
I started the 2006 batch with 125 seeds, about 110 of which sprouted. But after potting them into containers I whittled it down to about 50 relatively quickly. The problem is that the volume of soil you need once you start going into the baskets gets really expensive and I don't really have the space in my yard either.

At the moment from the 2006 batch, I have 9 in my yard plus 1 at my friend Bernard's place and 9 more at Boon's place. The rest I sold prior to moving back to San Francisco in late 2012....just not enough space for everything! That's just the 2006 batch though, I did a batch in 2009 as well, and I have about 10 of those. My friends have a lot more of those that I work on though. Bernard has about 20, then there are probably another 10 hanging around that I see occassionally.

Just for fun, here's the current inventory of the 2006 batch. Two large exposed-root:





Large root-over rock. I don't like this rock, but am working on a plan to minimize it in the composition....basically, I'm going to grow it until the roots have almost swallowed the surface of the stone:



A strange little one with reverse taper due to poor planning in the way the bends were made years ago, I can't seem to part with it because it's weird:



Small root over rock, about 11 inches high:



The slant style that I recently updated:



This slightly odd semi-cascade exposed root...it has amazing bark but the top needs a lot of work to form a good small crown.



The formal upright (on the right) and an informal upright, both with 10 more years of growing to go at least:



This informal upright has great bark and I need to wire it this winter...more to come:



A tree that will end up being very short and fat...sacrifice wont come off until all those roots have fused together to make a sumo style:



The twins....these two were never in baskets. I left them in the small 4" containers for two years longer than the other trees, then potted them down into small bonsai containers. But, they're from the same 2006 batch:

 

Eric Schrader

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This little exposed root that I updated recently:



Large informal upright, many years to go on this one:



This one, that I'm wanting to call "the elephant" for some reason:



This root-over-rock that needs to be repotted at a different angle, more to come:



A larger bunjin:



This informal upright, it has good root spread but the rest of the tree is nothing but a puzzle to me as to how to utilize it properly:



And finally, I don't have a recent photo of this one, which is still mine but at a friend's yard:



I think that makes 19...or maybe it's 20. Anyway, I have other seedlings, including the one I updated most recently in this thread, but those are from the 2009 batch. And, I have a few trees that I bought, including my three large and older pines and the two more mature small trees that I posted recently.

Don't start calling me a rockstar, anyone who knows me will start laughing. I told the incoming VP of the club the other day that I was "pumped up" for a workshop. She started laughing and said "You?, pumped up?" you're too slow and steady to get pumped up."
 

Vance Wood

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The point I was trying to get at is that there are a lot of people that will pay really good money for trees not half as good as these. If you have a good idea how to work these trees like what you have shown here in six years you should look into sharing some property or back yards with some people willing to participate so you can nurture a bunch of these guys of this quality. What do you think I do. My life does not depend on this stuff but I find nothing worn with being paid for doing something I really enjoy doing. As long as you don't make more than $20,000 dollars a year doing this you do not need to worry about a lot of licenses and other things.
 
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Eric Schrader

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Two things:

First - I'm relatively happy with the results I've achieved in 9 growing seasons, but it is perhaps a bit mis-leading because I've already weeded out all the trees that I felt were not good enough to keep. I'd say that I've sold or donated half the trees that I potted into pond baskets because I had too many to deal with and/or didn't like the trunks enough.

Second - I started more seeds this year. I'd love to collaborate with someone local who has the space and resources. Watering and fertilizer are the biggest obligations. For the first 6-7 years a lot of these only need repotting 1-2 times and 1-2 wirings and minimal trimming. It's not the time for me, it's the space. The only significant cost is the soil because there's such a large volume needed. That's why people ground grow - because it's the worlds biggest container of free soil!
 

KennedyMarx

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Can you describe the process you used to germinate the seeds? I bought a batch of 1000 seeds and have had them sitting in the freezer since they arrived. I wasn't sure if I needed to soak them then put them in the fridge until spring or if there was another method.
 

Eric Schrader

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Can you describe the process you used to germinate the seeds? I bought a batch of 1000 seeds and have had them sitting in the freezer since they arrived. I wasn't sure if I needed to soak them then put them in the fridge until spring or if there was another method.
I actually didn't use any process on mine. Jonas says that cold stratification increases germination rate, but about 90% of mine germinated without it. I think the freshness of the seed is the key to success. You can cold stratify for 30 days if you think it will help. Soak in a glass of water for two days and then drain onto a moist paper towel. Place that inside a plastic bag in the fridge for the 30 days. Watch for emerging root tips and plant them out before the roots grow long if they do germinate in the fridge

But - the thing that's waaaayyyy more important than the germination technique is the selection of the seeds. I realized earlier this year what I had forgotten a while back - I found a landscape tree in Alameda that had amazing bark - like crazy thick plates. So, when you're looking for seed, see if you can find a tree that has really good bark and a compact growth habit. This is covered extensively in the BT#20 article.
 

Anthony

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Freezer, are they dead now ?

Normally one uses the vegetable crisper.

However the seed we used to get from Amazon - Japanese seed packs from either Bonsai Boy or Dallas Bonsai, germinate without cold.

The process is water for a day as a soak, the dead float, and then we just plant a seed per seed tray container, using the smallest seed tray to be purchased. That way we can lift out the root bound seedling in 6 months, individually.
After 6 months, the seedlings that are not up to standard will naturally die off. This goes on for two years.
out of 31 seeds we used to get 25 to 20 seedlings.
Good Day
Anthony

* Now we do cuttings from the best trees - thanks to AUSBonsai info.
 

KennedyMarx

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The seeds are fine. I ended up switching them to the fridge, but considering seeds stay out in the cold winter elements I doubt they were hurt.

Eric, I was looking at this thread and your website again. Where are you finding these extra large pond baskets?
 

Adair M

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Hey, Eric! Saw your trees at last weekend's workshop on Facebook! Sweet!

I'll be showing my JBP at BIB Show this year. See you in a couple weeks.
 

Nybonsai12

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Eric,
Thanks so much for sharing your process and posting this thread. I've decided to try my hand at growing from seed this year and started with tridents and a few free blue spruce. They appear to be off to a good start. Your thread has given me further motivation to give pines a go so I have some red, white and black pine seeds en route.

Threads like these are very inpsiring, more people should try growing from seed. It's not hard or expensive to get a start and can really help people learn building trees from the beginning. I'm already finding it rewarding. Thanks again and looking forward to future updates.
 

drew33998

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Awesome

This is the stuff that we need to be doing as a nation to really build a base. The more people that are growing for the specific purpose of bonsai the better our material will be in the years to come. Great work Eric. I too have decided to give this a go this next spring. However I am leaning more towards purchasing seedlings from this guy:
http://www.porkyfarm.com/japblkpine.asp


Thoughts?
 

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