JBP Learning Lesson


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Hi Folks,
Since Chris Johnston has been so kind to go into fantastic details on his pine for us.
And since I just so happen to have a JBP that could now use some good workings done to it.
I am posting the pics here at Bnut for Chris to take us in a step by step detailed instructions on all work on this JBP.
Thank You so much Chris for being willing to do this for everybody!
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Next set of pics.
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Irene, in a preliminary scan of your photos, it looks like you have some very good low budding and a branch or two at the base of the tree. Keep these at all costs until it is obvious you don't want them. You will be able to make great use of them.


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Next set of them.
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Irene, your first job is to remove excess needles, all the older ones. Here is an example of what I am talking about. The first photo is obvious because the candles are so long and straight. Your candes are shorter but that is better.

The second photo shows where the needles are that we are going to remove. Remember the distinction between this year's, last year's, and 2 year old needles. Now is an excellent time for you to remove all of the 2 year old needles. Also remove all of last year's needles unless a small branch you want is really weak. Don't mess with this year's needles.

Post a pic when you have it cleaned up, you might also clean out the dead needles, etc. from the soil.

Thanks for this great opportunity, Irene! Wish we could work on this in person!


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Irene, tell me, how long have you had this tree and what have you been feeding it? What soil is it in?
Irene, tell me, how long have you had this tree and what have you been feeding it? What soil is it in?

I have had this tree for @ 2 years.
To bring on the growth that you see in the pics I use Aoki Brand Organic Fertilizer 5.3-2.3-1.0 it is 100% rape seed oil meal. I also throw on some Osmocote.
The soil is a standard free flowing Bonsai soil.
All right, we will get a better look at it when you have removed the needles. Here are some examples of older needles looking yellow. These should all go away.


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After removing the older needles there was not much left.
There are a few small stubby branches that will not be part of the design.
Showing the old needles.
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Picked off the bottom of the branches first.
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Next I started on the other branches.
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I made sure I left a few needles on each limb.
Can finely see the trunk and branch structure.
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This is the last of them...
Now where do we go Chris?
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Being in Southern Texas has benefits that the North does not have, we have 10-11 months of growing weather here. We still have at least 8+ weeks of growing to do here plus having a greenhouse helps as well. We have days of winter instead of months. And have the ac going on Christmas Day and generally New Years.
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I apologize for not being clearer. I wanted you to take out the needles that I indicated first, then let me take a look at the result.

Knowing how to judge the age of a needle is foundational to working with any kind of pine, and it isn't hard, but it's difficult to express it without showing someone on a tree in their presence. Here are a couple of pics of branches with this year's needles and last season's needles, 1 year old.

This season's needles are circled in yellow, last season's are in red. It just so happens that last year's needles are shorter than this year's, but such will not always be the case.


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If you notice in the first photo, how light the branch or stem is above the joint. This is a single candle from this year that I allowed to grow and get stronger. In the second photo, the new needles (yellow) are bunched together because I am pulling them out of the way for the photo. The angle you see in the branch indicates where I pruned the longer branch back to make use of inner buds.

This tree is much older than yours, but the branches are only a little better developed. I purchased this tree in 2003 and have only been seriously working with it for 3 years. It also was allowed to languish for about 2 years due to our move.

On a tree at this stage of development, removing as many new needles as you did may damage the tree. I doubt it will be in any serious danger. Just let it be, care for it as you would any of your other pines. In spring, let the new candles grow until June. Don't wire it, just let it grow strong. You can begin its candling journey, probably, in July. In your climate zone, Ernie Kuo would advocate candling twice in a season. While a strong tree can take this for a while, it weakens the tree excessively and I certainly do not recommend it for anyone other than a master of the Japanese black pine.
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So, Irene, are you up for another one in another thread? And we will go more slowly this time ;)
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