I'm not so sure about this

grizzlywon

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I have been off of this site for about 2 months. I was out of work for about 6 months looking for a job. I now have a part-time but it's better than nothing. I have also been doing NRA training and other firearms related classes and starting a photography business.

To make a long story short, I have gotten very little enjoyment the last few months out of bonsai. I'm not sure if its due to one or more of the following reasons.

-About %20 of my trees have died. Not sure why when I can have two identical species next to each other, in the same soil, sun and getting the same fert, and water.

-I've never had money a decent amount to spend on trees, so I only have about 2 that I would even call bonsai. The rest are crappy sticks i a pot that might someday become something.

-I'm sick and tired of having to water trees every single day for what amounts to at least 20-30min! Especially when It's just a bunch of dieing sticks.

-I think I understand now why this hobby/art if better left to the retired or full-time nursery man.

-I have also been spending almost all my waking hours shooting pictures or training people how to shoot.

-dreading having to have my father in-law come over every single day for 7 days to water for me when I go on vacation next week.

-My new job could become full-time and I may end up having to move about an hour south and I can't imagine relocating all these trees and hundreds of seedlings.

Who knows, I might end up finding some enjoyment out of this later, but right now I guess I'm just tired of it. Sorry to be such a downer, just figured some of you guys may have been were I am now or some of you may have some advice.
 

irene_b

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Timed watering system, Plant a bunch in the ground, and yup been there done that...
To me it is a joy to escape and spend time with my weetrees...Now when I am sick it is left to hubby... And 4 bouts of pnuemonia has left me weaker than a newborn kitten :(
 

ml_work

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"A mature Oak tree is the perfection of an acorn. So when you're feeling discouraged and feeling a little blue, take a look at a mighty oak and see what a nut can do. -Adrian Rogers "

That is pretty good for starters, Grizzly!
The heat this summer (it was 104F in Bama today) has been hard on my trees. And most are not expensive trees as my budget is limited too. So my daily watering of 30-60 min has been disappointing more than rewarding this year too. But when you think of it, trees die in the woods all the time and they have the creator taking care of them. So when we chop, cut, prune and stuff into a small pot, we are going to kill some too. So I told myself, it's just a tree, if the fun is gone then it's time to change.
As for the father in law watering, just think it could be your mother in law! :)

Keep Lookin Up!
Michael
Joshua 1:8
 

bonsai barry

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I have experienced a lot of the same frustrationsas you have... especially dying trees. I have had the same thoughts about giving up because of unacceptable tree loss. One main difference between your and my frustrations is that I still love the time I spend watering the trees. I like to get outside and enjoy them... except the wilting little suckers.

Your online enthusiasm for bonsai, especially propagation has been an encouragement to me for a while, so I'm sorry to hear about your second-thoughts. If your life is such that you need some time away from your trees maybe bonsai friends could look after them for you for six months or a year. (I live about three hours from you and I could help you out with some of them... however since I just admitted to a high loss of trees, I may not be your first choice.)

Hope your life's situations smooth out soon.

Jeff
AKA Bonsai Barry
 

Jason

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It's a hobby

It's a hobby...not a job...you can quit whenever you want. But I bet you'll get the bug again. So get rid of your crap and keep the good stuff. Downsize and refine your collection. Make it easy on yourself. This is for fun.:)
 

Jason

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And ditto the "plant them in the ground". When I moved I had to prioritize. So when I got a piece of new ground most of my collection got planted and ignored for at least a while (rare pruning). A couple died but most of them have way better trunk caliper and actually look like something with potential. Some of them need to be "ignored" a bit longer.
 

63pmp

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Keep the few trees that you think are worth it, and ditch the rest. Looking after a few trees is easy. One day you will feel the urge to get right into bonsai again and you will still have these trees to start with.


Paul
 

rockm

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I have had the exact opposite experience with bonsai. I have faced long periods of unemployment in the last ten years or so. Bonsai has been a sustaining presence in that time, providing a way to let off steam and provide an outlet to get away from everyday worries for a while. My trees, like a good dog, have become close friends who don't complain, ask for the mortgage payment, or charge interest.

Bonsai require care--so do pets. If you're not up to a hobby or begin to resent it, you're done. Get away from it. Let it be for a while. Come back when you're not so pressured.

Killing trees is part of the whole deal. It happens. It's not a pleasant thing. I''ve found that working with native species, that are on the larger side, can go a very long way in preventing unexpected losses. Larger trees, since they are in larger soil volumes, can require a little less watering, are a little less prone to soil problems (larger volume means more margin for error in watering feeding and other issues). Of course they can also cause back problems, so there's a trade off.

Also, instead of collecting "crappy sticks in pots," save for a decent specimen tree. It's worth the effort. You will trade watering many trees with no potential to watering one or two that are worthwhile--you provide less care for more return.

Life's too short to waste on really crappy material hoping ONE DAY it will suddenly turn into a worthwhile tree--just doesn't work that way.
 

Zach Smith

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I have been off of this site for about 2 months. I was out of work for about 6 months looking for a job. I now have a part-time but it's better than nothing. I have also been doing NRA training and other firearms related classes and starting a photography business.

To make a long story short, I have gotten very little enjoyment the last few months out of bonsai. I'm not sure if its due to one or more of the following reasons.

-About %20 of my trees have died. Not sure why when I can have two identical species next to each other, in the same soil, sun and getting the same fert, and water.

-I've never had money a decent amount to spend on trees, so I only have about 2 that I would even call bonsai. The rest are crappy sticks i a pot that might someday become something.

-I'm sick and tired of having to water trees every single day for what amounts to at least 20-30min! Especially when It's just a bunch of dieing sticks.

-I think I understand now why this hobby/art if better left to the retired or full-time nursery man.

-I have also been spending almost all my waking hours shooting pictures or training people how to shoot.

-dreading having to have my father in-law come over every single day for 7 days to water for me when I go on vacation next week.

-My new job could become full-time and I may end up having to move about an hour south and I can't imagine relocating all these trees and hundreds of seedlings.

Who knows, I might end up finding some enjoyment out of this later, but right now I guess I'm just tired of it. Sorry to be such a downer, just figured some of you guys may have been were I am now or some of you may have some advice.

The easy answer to this is "Man, don't give up!" Realistically, however, and having been where you are (at least in the sense that sometimes life changes force you to give up for a while) you may be best off taking a hiatus. Bonsai will be there when you come back, and trust me, this art/hobby/pastime just won't let go.

On the practical side, keeping things watered in summer is probably the most challenging part of bonsai. I'm getting 100-degree days now with zero rain. But I have an automated system set up to water every four hours. Cost me less than $40. To this I added the strategy of burying smaller pots (the relatively few I have) in larger pots up to the rim. This works. Most of my trees are larger, so they have more soil and therefore more heat resistance/water retention capability.

As to the issue of sticks in pots, there are a couple of alternatives: 1) get bigger material, either that you dig or buy; or 2) put your sticks in really big growing containers or the ground so they'll get bigger, and feed the heck out of them.

I wish you the best of luck with whatever choice you make. Just don't sweat it one way or another; life's too short.

Zach
 

mcpesq817

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Hey grizzlywon,

I've gotten a bit down when a tree has died, but I tell you that this is nothing compared to the joy I get overall. The 20 min or so I take to water my trees, and the time I spend fertilizing, working on them, etc., gives me an escape from the stresses of everyday life from my job, family stuff, etc. My trees aren't all that great, but it is incredibly therapeutic for me to spend a few minutes taking care of them or even just walking out in the backyard to look at them.

I'd also echo what people say about planting things in the ground and buying better stock. This is my third year, and the first two were spent in frustration looking at sticks in pots that couldn't really be worked on. This year I've managed to add a few trees of better quality stock, and thinned out my collection by giving away or otherwise removing some small stock that was wasting my time. At the same time, I have also been pleased with the rapid growth of trees I have in the ground.

So hang in there. Yes, they are like pets and require love and care, but in my opinion, like pets, the rewards from that love and care significantly outweigh the costs and hassles.
 
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John Ruger

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You know, I've found that less is better...at least for me. I've never taken on more than 5 at any given time. I went through the same thing after several got whacked by vandals...they left me with one living and it's still alive. For a good while, that was all I had...one, a beautiful old Korean Hornbeam minus an apex that I'm now re-working. Since then I took on 4 more, 2 of which I had at my parents place that are 15 years old now, I should know, I planted them. Don't give it up, you can get discouraged because we all do from time to time and we've all lost ones for no apparent reason. It just goes with the territory. You said that you have 2 that you would consider bonsai? Would you post any pics?
 
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Grizzly-
I've been in the same boat. Working two jobs, raising kids, volunteering at the local community center takes a toll sometimes. I've dabbled with bonsai for 21 years and have very little to show for it. I have thought about giving away all of my potensai and just giving up to focus on the more pressing responsibilities. Never really happened though. I did get rid of all of my tropicals because living in zone5/6, I really don't have the means to properly overwinter them. I also stopped the semi obsessive-compulsive habit of digging up every volunteer seedling that pops up in my yard while thinking, 'hey, that may make a good bonsai.' Those were good and rational decisions. Most of my stuff is collected native material and I just love them too much to let go. This leaves me in a weird state of 'bonsai limbo.' I will say that each time I come out of a bonsai funk, I learn a little bit more and get reinvigorated by the knowledge.
Keep your head up and do what's best. I will bet that the bug bites you again.
 

treekutter

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Hang on! Bonsai is a journey. You will have ups and downs.Our summers are rough. In the beggining you tend to over due it . Then things take care of themselves. Our swap meet is Dec 4 this year. sell then if you can hang on.
 
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Grizz...

Cull the herd, as has been said... sometimes that's easier said than done. But... in the end you'll feel better about it. Don't give up on it my friend... make it managable. :)

But as also has been said... be discriminating in what you decide to take into your care in the future, knowing your time is precious, and that it should only be spent on trees which give you pleasure.

Hugs,

V
 

nsmar4211

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Grizzly-
As I'm sure you've notice I've not been around much online either. Between work, gigging band, and trying to start online stuff (bonsai sayings on a mousepad anyone? :) )... I've not spent much time on my trees either. I stopped with all the cuttings (ok a few), most of the seedlings have croaked watering or not. I went looking for ways to save my sanity and the plants..

Here's an idea that is working for me: When I realized I was not going to have time for them but I had some medium sized plants that would suffer if neglected in the pots they were in, I went out and found some plastic totes on clearance. Got the flexible solid colored type with rounded edges (not the clear square edged totes, those crack). Drilled a bunch of holes in the bottom. These are ones about the size of a case of paper. Filled em up with well draining potting soil (got the good stuff), put the aforementioned trees in them. Waited a few days (mine are portulacaria so they don't like wet feet) and then watered the crap out of em. Now they are growing gangbusters, I'll occasionally walk by and whack the tall sprouts off. However, I only water them 2x a week compare to daily with the ones in bonsai pots. If I should have to move, it won't be bad to stick all the totes into the back of my truck-much easier than wrestling pots! I've got them lined up along the side of the house like a border.

I also culled a ton of stuff that was quite frankly boring. In my case it got fed to the goats. I also grouped stuff together so that watering meant I could water an area and get 20 plants vs watering 20 plants seperatly. The more sensitive plants I put in the shade (even if it was of another plant) to cut down on watering. Many other plants got put into bigger pots. Did I mention I culled? :). I also gave away about 20 plants I had no hopes for.

In your case, I'd eye the seedlings critically and toss anything without an easy effort to be something. Uppot everything into bigger pots even if it means using buckets or totes or whatever. A side advantage is the plastic will keep the soil moist longer = less watering. Get a bigger nozzle for the hose so you can water faster, group things together. Do you have some that need daily water? put those by the door for easy acess. Plants that need 2x a week, a little further away. Maybe get an auto system or a gravity fed system. Personally I've been trying to figure out a system like I had for my rabbits, buckets hung high gravity fed into tubes. Thinking if I used hose with holes poked in it big enough not to need pressure...but i digress. If you have to, put trays under pots to hold water

Currently during the week for me its get up 15 minutes earlier so I can hope outside and water the plants. Honestly, I just spray and make sure everything gets wet. I water over 200 square feet worth in about 10 minutes. It can be done..... And in a few years when you settle back down the trees will be that much more aged (at least.....that's what I hope).

Hang in there! Oh.....and got a link to your pictures? Would love to see em :)
 

grizzlywon

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I want to thank you guys for the affirming and encouraging words. When the weather cools off I think will sell a bunch of the smaller trees so I have more room in my yard and less to water/worry about.

And maybe I'll be able to hold off my propagating tendencies every time a prune a tree!



If you'd like to see my photography website, shoot me a PM>
 

Attila Soos

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You can also reduce the number or trees you have (and the work to care for them), by creating clump-style (5+ trunks) bonsai, and multiple trunk (double and triple) bonsai. When using young material, they make much more interesting designs. So, just get all your seedlings of the same species, and bunch them together in various numbers.

Then plant them in the ground and water once or twice a week. While on vacation, your father-in-law will have to water only once. Buy him a nice lunch, and he will be happy to do it.

I have 800 trees, 90% of them in the ground (and I have sprinkler system for those).
My daily watering takes 10 minutes.

I just came back from a 2-week vacation in Canada, I paid $20 a day to my mother-in-law to take care of the house (pets, trees, etc) and everybody was happy. She said that we should go more often, so that she can make more money for herself.

Having dying sticks in pots is no fun. I would never waste my time with that. I can understand your frustration.

But growing large and beautiful trunks in the ground, with much less work, is a thrill. My favorite time is spring (actually, late winter) when I dig out a few of these trunks for root-pruning, and I go "WOW, how did this get so big in such a short time".

There were times in the past when I also questioned myself - why the hell am I doing all this work?- but those days are long gone. As I got older, I realized that the joy and satisfaction I get from working with this trees, is much more valuable that the work I had to put in.

But you have to work smart. As a comparison, think about doing a job with bad tools, versus doing the same job with great tools. Bad tools and bad choices can take all the fun out of it, so you have to make sure that you are using the best tools available to you. Just an example:a simple thing, such as a 50% shade-cloth can make the difference between your plants looking fresh and thriving, or looking brown and sickly.
 
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Bonsai Nut

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Go to Home Depot, buy a cheap sprinkler system, and forget about watering. I can go away for weeks and I don't have to worry about my trees.

Only when you feel like you can walk away for several days without stressing will you enjoy this hobby. Otherwise it will start to weigh on you.
 
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I agree automated watering is a must for stress reasons aswell as health of the plants.I used to have well over 100 pre bonsai now I focus on approx 20 really good pieces and that is my limit. If I see somthing I might want to add I will need to get rid of somthing I already have to add it (it really keeps you in check).No propigating or growing out leave that to someone else focus on a small amount of quality material and it will be a very rewarding experience.
 

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