All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

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All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:35 pm

I have haphazardly tried bonsai in the past, all indoors, and due to children and knowledge never had any luck. I've read where alot of bonsai are to be outdoors, but due to a back injury can't carry them in and out. Oh, before I go any farther, I live in central Indiana where the winters can get PRETTY cold and snowy. I've recently moved and 2/3 of the children have grown and moved out so I'd like to try my hand again. My questions all stem from the possibility of building a raised container garden on the corner of my covered(not enclosed)front porch. Several questions: First, how deep does the soil need to be. I'm having this made for me so the depth can be whatever is needed. Second, what type of trees would be good for my area(I'm very partial to the maples and elms)? And also, IF this is even possible, what kind of special care would it need in the winter? I know not to water when it's below about 45 degrees, and to slow down on the watering during the winter, and also it wouldn't be a problem to cover with plastic when the temperatures were bitterly cold, but I am unsure of anything else! LOL! If all of this really seems unwise, I can always just make it an annual flower bed, but I absolutely love the bonsai and am very jealous of all of you that can pull it off! I've spent hours and hours on the computer looking wistfully at everyone else's bonsai, reading about care of them, and would just really love to be able to give it a go. Any and all input, positive or not, is GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!

And oh, I was going to enclose of a picture of the container garden, but being pretty much computer illiterate, can't figure it out! LOL! It's about 36 inches tall, 36 inches long, 19 inches wide, and the depth of the soil can be whatever I feel is needed. Thanks!

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  Will Heath on Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:41 pm

The first thing that concerns me is your "covered" area....have you considered sunlight?


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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  fiona on Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:52 pm

Hello and welcome to the world of bonsai - I hope you find it rewarding after your long wait to participate.

Re your post: this might just be me being a bit stupid here, but I'm struggling to picture what you mean by a raised container garden where you need to know the depth of soil. Are you planning on growing trees from seed? If so please be prepared for a long wait before the trees will be in any sort of condition to style. If not, remember bonsai stay in their pots so depth of soil isn't an issue. Perhaps you should consider benching rather than a container. I've put a picture of my own benches here which might help. I live in Scotland where we get summers of anything from about 65F to 85F and winters which can go below freezing from late October through to May. But as Will says, the plants will always need sunlight for as much of the day as possible - mine are against a south facing wall so get good sunlight for most of the day.

Most of us start with a tree bought (or acquired) from somewhere. My advice is to avoid garden centres and malls as the stuff they sell is most often mass market rubbish. Use the Internet to find a bonsai nursery near you and buy a decent tree from there. You mentioned indoors and outdoors - most trees stay outdoors all year round unless they are tropical/Mediterranean which need protection from temperatures below about 5C (41F). The bonsai nursery should advise you on suitable trees for outdoors in your area and if there's any special attention needed. Maybe start with one or two trees just, then if (or more likely when) you get hooked, work your way up to a bigger and better collection.

I think your best move is to forget the books for just now and start to talk to people who know about bonsai. The nursery is a start point but look for decent clubs in your area and you'll find no shortage of people who will help you and who will show you their own set-ups to give you ideas.

I do so hope this helps. You might see in a previous post of mine that I say I wasted four or five years at the start of my bonsai life because of the very lack of knowledge you mention. Here's hoping this might save you from the same.

Good luck.

Fiona



Last edited by fionnghal on Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo. CRIMINAL for an English teacher!)

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:24 pm

You guys are going to have to please excuse me for being too stupid to get a picture posted. LOL! It's kinda hard to describe, but if you could go to ebay and check out item number 110404606624, then you can see what I mean. It's raised on legs and the "box" that they would grow in could pretty much be made any depth we need.
As for sun, my porch has a roof, but this would come up to the top of my railing and would be put in the corner that would get all of the morning sun and part of the afternoon. It's the southeast corner of my porch and it really does get a good bit of sun. I'm not wanting to start from seed at all, I've debated on getting established older trees online, ebay or otherwise, and considering my area I am very fond of the maple varieties. Thanks guys!

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  fiona on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:56 pm

Sorry. Still not getting this. Why do you need, indeed why would you want a soil box? Bonsai live their lives in pots not in soil boxes. (the word "bonsai" means a tree in a pot or tray) I would only use a soil box to establish a tree that had been collected from the wild, but with no disrespect meant, that's not beginner level stuff. The only other time I'd put a bonsai into soil is when I am trying to increase its size - then I'd put into the ground for a few years. They stay in their pots at all other times.

If you took the item on eBay and sawed off the soil container part, the slatted section you would be left with is more what you need. Most of us keep our bonsai on some form of benching and most of us like slatted benches so air can circulate underneath and when you water them, the excess water drains through the slats. My own benches are at about waist height off the ground so I can work on the trees without bending and so they are easily viewed. It also helps prevent damage from ground frosts.

Keeping you trees in that sort of box on eBay will seriously reduce their moveablity and I think you said you had back problems. Keeping them in their pots means you can move them if there is an extreme of weather. Other advice is get ones you can easily lift and the smaller Chuhin or Shohin sized are ideal.

I think you need to do a lot more research into how and where you keep bonsai. I reiterate my previous comment - find yourself a club and hook up with people. They are almost always delighted to help a newbie as most, like me, are only too willing to stop newcomers making the same mistakes as we all have.

have fun.

Fiona

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  Carolee on Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:32 pm

I looked at your item on ebay. It is not what you want if you really want for bonsai. I can not manage big bonsai because of physical issues, and all my bonsai are small enough I can carry them with one hand.

I'm not sure what you mean by central Indiana, but I belong to a bonsai study group in Lynville (just outside of Evansville, IN), if you are close enough (I drive two hours one way to get there), it would be well worth your time to come. He and his wife Barb, has a wonderful collection of bonsai, and even if you don't want to join the group, visiting them to see their trees is worth your time. At a minimum you would learn how the trees (maples and elms included) are stored for the winter. We meet the first Saturday (except for July) of every month. Dave Bogan is the teacher, and he has been doing bonsai for more than thirty years. If you are interested, let me know and I'll give you more information.

If Lynnville is too far away, check for a local club in your area. Go to the American Bonsai Society: http://www.absbonsai.org/USAClubs.html Good Luck!

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:17 pm

But why COULDN'T a tree live it's life in a soil box? They would still be kept to a certain height, probably not over 18 inches and not very many to the box, and that's where they would stay for the winter. No back issues at all involved because, big pot or not, they wouldn't have to be moved at all. Trees for my area should do fine in their natural climate, and it would be easy to cover for extreme conditions. I realize most of you use benching, I see that alot, but in essence mine is the same thing except I'm not ever having to carry the trees and their soil anywhere, it stays put. It's a cedar bench with about 4 inches of bonsai soil on top, with the trees permanently placed. Every few years it seems like they could be removed and root trimmed and replanted to continue on. In theory it kinda seemed like a decent alternative to any kind of carrying and establishing "indoor and outdoor" places. Not real sure where I would even keep plants I had to move totally inside. Thanks again.






fionnghal wrote:Sorry. Still not getting this. Why do you need, indeed why would you want a soil box? Bonsai live their lives in pots not in soil boxes. (the word "bonsai" means a tree in a pot or tray) I would only use a soil box to establish a tree that had been collected from the wild, but with no disrespect meant, that's not beginner level stuff. The only other time I'd put a bonsai into soil is when I am trying to increase its size - then I'd put into the ground for a few years. They stay in their pots at all other times.

If you took the item on eBay and sawed off the soil container part, the slatted section you would be left with is more what you need. Most of us keep our bonsai on some form of benching and most of us like slatted benches so air can circulate underneath and when you water them, the excess water drains through the slats. My own benches are at about waist height off the ground so I can work on the trees without bending and so they are easily viewed. It also helps prevent damage from ground frosts.

Keeping you trees in that sort of box on eBay will seriously reduce their moveablity and I think you said you had back problems. Keeping them in their pots means you can move them if there is an extreme of weather. Other advice is get ones you can easily lift and the smaller Chuhin or Shohin sized are ideal.

I think you need to do a lot more research into how and where you keep bonsai. I reiterate my previous comment - find yourself a club and hook up with people. They are almost always delighted to help a newbie as most, like me, are only too willing to stop newcomers making the same mistakes as we all have.

have fun.

Fiona

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  fiona on Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:59 pm

barthur wrote:But why COULDN'T a tree live it's life in a soil box?

Because then it really ain't Bonsai - it's a container/pot plant, it's a bunch of trees in a trough. Bonsai, as I said before, means a tree in a pot. The aesthetics of bonsai includes the pot - pot and tree in combination. That's why we take such care over choosing appropriate pots to complement each tree. If you don't have a bonsai pot, you don't have a "proper" bonsai. When we start off our trees in soil boxes or training pots we would class them as potensai or trees in training. But the aim is to get them into bonsai pots as soon as practicable. As I explained before, we might put an established bonsai into a box or the ground for remedial purposes, but again it is a short-term measure before it goes back in its pot.

Additionally, I personally like to display my in the garden in formal, semi-formal or informal displays along with accent plants etc - if you've been on this site you'll have seen the displays people create. I also take mine to shows where they wouldn't be accepted in anything other than a bonsai pot, not even in training pots.

However, they're your trees and it's entirely up to you what you do with them. I just think you're going to miss out on some of the exciting parts of the art and craft of bonsai by essentially growing them in window boxes or trough planters. Please do consider doing what I have suggested and Carolee has suggested about going along to a bonsai club even if you do not join in the long term. I think it will really open your eyes, mind and heart to how bonsai should be done.

Best of luck anyway - as a bottom line it's about enjoying your trees.

Fiona

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:45 am

A tree or plant that has been miniaturized by restriction of its roots and by careful pruning.

The above is the definition I get for bonsai. To me, since the trees in their natural state would reach heights of 20 feet or more and mine aren't going to be more than 18 inches, mine would be just as much a bonsai as one planted in a dish. I've searched the internet for gazillions of pictures on bonsai, and have come up with several, mostly in China, that the trees are in pots of about 20 x 15 with about a 5 1/2 inch depth. Since I discussed mine being in a depth of 4-5 inches, and the entire thing only being about 35 x 18, it's not really that much off from what is referred to as real "bonsai" The aesthetics would also come from any ornamental figures or pieces used. And to me, an attractive wood "planter"(more detailing, nice stain)could be just as attractive a showpiece as a plain brown dish. I personally don't feel like I'm going to be missing out, my visitors will be greeted by an attractive planter containing 2 or 3 attractive well shaped bonsai trees with possibilities of different landscaping(maybe a "mountain" or "lake")and probably some moss. Kinda seemed like a pretty beautiful and interesting conversation piece. I really wasn't aware that the art of miniature trees had to follow some kind of guideline or it "didn't count"! And although the idea of a bonsai club is neat and I could gain all kinds of tips and insights, it wouldn't change my mind about the fact that this could and will be a very attractive showpiece to be enjoyed by visitors and passerbys.

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  Norma on Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:29 am

Greetings from Minnesota,

One very important fact about keeping our trees in pots is that the pot needs to be rotated regularly so each side receives a share of the sun. I can't see this happening with a large planter. We also remove the tree from the pot to trim the roots and provide fresh soil every two years but with maples it may be every year. Air circulation is also needed thus we have holes in the bottom of our pots to allow the release of water and provide air.

Don't give up on your dream.... just modify it a bit! My son is building a raised vegetable/flower garden for me and I plan to have shelf room for some of my bonsai on the stone wall which will edge the main garden.

Good luck..

Norma

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:38 am

Rotating won't be easy but could be done by a couple of guys. It will get sun from two different angles though.
And like I have said, I plan to do the root trimming needed on these things on a timely basis. Also like I've said, there will be plenty of drainage holes drilled into the bottom of this, as many as are needed, and covered with either screen or plastic canvas. Thanks for your encouragement, I really hope to achieve this. I've run across soooo many very large bonsai plantings, in pots way to big to move, with depths of much more than the roughly 4 inches I'm discussing, or with such large rocks that there is no way to carry or turn these, and they all look great. So hopefully I can end up(eventually!)with maybe three 18 inch trees with interesting moss and decor. If I root trim every year, then at that time the entire tree can be turned so the other two sides get the majority of the sun for awhile, it oughtta all even out in the end, LOL!




Norma wrote:Greetings from Minnesota,

One very important fact about keeping our trees in pots is that the pot needs to be rotated regularly so each side receives a share of the sun. I can't see this happening with a large planter. We also remove the tree from the pot to trim the roots and provide fresh soil every two years but with maples it may be every year. Air circulation is also needed thus we have holes in the bottom of our pots to allow the release of water and provide air.

Don't give up on your dream.... just modify it a bit! My son is building a raised vegetable/flower garden for me and I plan to have shelf room for some of my bonsai on the stone wall which will edge the main garden.

Good luck..

Norma

barthur
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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  fiona on Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:52 am

I'm giving up on this thread because it seems to me that you are determined to continue with your raised bed whatever anyone suggests and I am now struggling to be positive in any answers. I am quite sure that your pictures from China will all feature TREES IN POTS not wooden boxes, as despite your "definition" that is what bonsai are, and that is what the actual word bonsai means. That to me is in itself a clue. The "restriction of the roots" as per your definition is as much done by keeping it in a pot as it is by trimming them - that is one major importance of a pot.

However, they are your trees and it is your garden and it is your right to do whatever you want with them as long as you are happy with the result.

You mention how big the pots you saw in the Chinese pics were. Before I sign off this thread, I would ask you please to bear in mind the following two facts if you go ahead with this planter idea:

First, the bigger the container (whatever it is made for) the more the roots will spread (and the quicker). You will be spending a lot of time taking your trees out and trimming the roots to keep the height of the tree down. The roots would also quite quickly grow into each other making it difficult

Second, growing more than two trees in a container the size of the one you mention would mean that you run the risk of pests and diseases spreading between them whereas kept individually that risk can be minimised.

Again I say Good Luck. If they make you happy grown this way that's a lot of what this hobby is about

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  Cliff on Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:31 am

barthur wrote:Rotating won't be easy but could be done by a couple of guys. It will get sun from two different angles though. (...) I've run across soooo many very large bonsai plantings, in pots way to big to move, with depths of much more than the roughly 4 inches I'm discussing, or with such large rocks that there is no way to carry or turn these, and they all look great. So hopefully I can end up(eventually!)with maybe three 18 inch trees with interesting moss and decor. If I root trim every year, then at that time the entire tree can be turned so the other two sides get the majority of the sun for awhile, it oughtta all even out in the end, LOL!
When we say bonsai should be rotated regularly, we don't mean once a year, we mean a quarter turn once or twice a week. Even if you can position your tree so it gets direct sunlight for most of the day, the intensity of that light varies with the sun's angle, and there's still that porch roof overhead blocking all the indirect light from the sky, which is also important for the health of the tree. Those bonsai that are in pots "way too big to move" sit outside where they get plenty of light, both direct sunlight and indirect light from the sky in all directions; they do not sit under a porch roof. If you keep your tree under a porch roof and rotate it once or twice a year, you won't have a healthy-looking tree.

Another problem is protection from the cold. Your big wooden box standing on legs 3 feet above the floor of an uninsulated porch in winter will get a lot colder than a pot sitting on the ground under the snow. That difference can kill hardy trees, because the roots often can't tolerate as much cold as the branches. Covering it up may keep out the wind, but it won't keep out the cold for very long.

You came up with this big wooden tray on a porch idea to avoid having to carry your trees outside all the time, but it's not necessary. You can use species that are winter-hardy in your area, and keep them outside all year. In the fall you just put them on the ground, pile a bit of mulch around the pot, and let the snow bury them. In the spring, lift them onto a bench. If you're worried that the pots will be too heavy to lift, get mica bonsai pots, they're lighter and cheaper than clay pots. An 18" tree in a 12" mica pot won't weigh more than about 10 pounds.

As for what kinds of trees to get, I'd suggest Amur Maple, Siberian Elm, Eastern Redcedar, and Eastern Larch. They're hardy as far north as Canada, so your climate should be no problem.

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RE:All you pros,help a newbie figure out something,thanks!

Post  Bob Brunt on Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:24 am

The requirements you are describing are more akin to Niwaki ( the japanese art of pruning garden trees ) than to Bonsai. Have a look at this link. Is this the direction you seek ?
These are permanently planted but use many of the Bonsai techniques to shape and prune them.
http://www.niwaki.com/

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Roots, a fine and refined subject.

Post  Jeremy on Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:49 am

barthur wrote:A tree or plant that has been miniaturized by restriction of its roots and by careful pruning.

The above is the definition I get for bonsai.

Hi bartur,
I spent the whole of last weekend telling the general public that bonsai are not about restricting the roots. pale
I am fairly new to the art, but none of my trees have ever had to have their root restrict to create a passable bonsai.
Am I missing a trick here Question pale
I spend a great deal of time trying to develop the trees roots, not restricting them.

I approach my bonsai with, selected pruning, control of watering, the correct medium for the species to plant them in, developing horticulture knowledge, evolving bonsai techniques, a hungry creative eye, an open mind and life long passion. This way, so far, has given me a chance at looking after a bonsai.

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:03 pm

?????Well of course I'm going thru with my idea, it's a good idea! And unless the "art" on bonsai is alot more high-brow and snobbish than I thought, I can't seem to grasp your stubborn idea of "it's my way or it's wrong"! I'm really having a hard time believing you would strut into China and tell all of these people that their bonsai gardens are a sham, a fraud, and just plain wrong! LOL! I mean seriously dude, what difference does it make if it's a box or a pot if they are the same size? So all the gorgeous bonsai I see planted on slabs aren't bonsai, since they aren't in pots? I'm also assuming that bonsai done in the cascade style aren't real bonsai either, since the "pots" they are usually in aren't trays or shallow, lord most of the cascade pots are deeper than pots I use for my ordinary houseplants, so again, I'm assuming by your definition that cascade bonsai aren't really bonsai, right? If it makes you feel better(or more righteous!), look at it this way, my trees CHOSE the box instead of a pot, since it's all about the tree choosing the "container"! The trees can't be wrong. And in closing, your last line was only about 50% correct, making someone happy is pretty much what a hobby is ALL about, not partly!




fionnghal wrote:I'm giving up on this thread because it seems to me that you are determined to continue with your raised bed whatever anyone suggests and I am now struggling to be positive in any answers. I am quite sure that your pictures from China will all feature TREES IN POTS not wooden boxes, as despite your "definition" that is what bonsai are, and that is what the actual word bonsai means. That to me is in itself a clue. The "restriction of the roots" as per your definition is as much done by keeping it in a pot as it is by trimming them - that is one major importance of a pot.

However, they are your trees and it is your garden and it is your right to do whatever you want with them as long as you are happy with the result.

You mention how big the pots you saw in the Chinese pics were. Before I sign off this thread, I would ask you please to bear in mind the following two facts if you go ahead with this planter idea:

First, the bigger the container (whatever it is made for) the more the roots will spread (and the quicker). You will be spending a lot of time taking your trees out and trimming the roots to keep the height of the tree down. The roots would also quite quickly grow into each other making it difficult

Second, growing more than two trees in a container the size of the one you mention would mean that you run the risk of pests and diseases spreading between them whereas kept individually that risk can be minimised.

Again I say Good Luck. If they make you happy grown this way that's a lot of what this hobby is about

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:08 pm

Bob Brunt wrote:The requirements you are describing are more akin to Niwaki ( the japanese art of pruning garden trees ) than to Bonsai. Have a look at this link. Is this the direction you seek ?
These are permanently planted but use many of the Bonsai techniques to shape and prune them.
http://www.niwaki.com/

Possibly, but taking a 20-30 foot tree and making it a nice shaped 18 inch tree, well anyway you look at it or want to call it, it's pretty much bonsai to the normal person.

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:15 pm

[/quote]When we say bonsai should be rotated regularly, we don't mean once a year, we mean a quarter turn once or twice a week. Even if you can position your tree so it gets direct sunlight for most of the day, the intensity of that light varies with the sun's angle, and there's still that porch roof overhead blocking all the indirect light from the sky, which is also important for the health of the tree. Those bonsai that are in pots "way too big to move" sit outside where they get plenty of light, both direct sunlight and indirect light from the sky in all directions; they do not sit under a porch roof. If you keep your tree under a porch roof and rotate it once or twice a year, you won't have a healthy-looking tree.

Another problem is protection from the cold. Your big wooden box standing on legs 3 feet above the floor of an uninsulated porch in winter will get a lot colder than a pot sitting on the ground under the snow. That difference can kill hardy trees, because the roots often can't tolerate as much cold as the branches. Covering it up may keep out the wind, but it won't keep out the cold for very long.

You came up with this big wooden tray on a porch idea to avoid having to carry your trees outside all the time, but it's not necessary. You can use species that are winter-hardy in your area, and keep them outside all year. In the fall you just put them on the ground, pile a bit of mulch around the pot, and let the snow bury them. In the spring, lift them onto a bench. If you're worried that the pots will be too heavy to lift, get mica bonsai pots, they're lighter and cheaper than clay pots. An 18" tree in a 12" mica pot won't weigh more than about 10 pounds.

As for what kinds of trees to get, I'd suggest Amur Maple, Siberian Elm, Eastern Redcedar, and Eastern Larch. They're hardy as far north as Canada, so your climate should be no problem.[/quote]


Yes, I realize they are turned more often than that and get direct overhead sun, but considering I see about a gazillion trees on any given day growing fairly nicely in the shade of other trees, I know for a fact that trees can grow just fine with partial sun. Pretty much the main problem with them would be stunted growth, which I'm thinking I'm looking for anyway. And I'm sorry, but on a day with a wind chill of -20, there is absolutely NO way that a pot buried in the snow is going to stay wamer than one covered up on a snow free porch. A built in rail 36 inches high on my porch will keep the majority of the wind out from underneath it, and it could be covered with something that drapes to the porch, keeping it much warmer. Putting them in the yard is not even an option, considering I'm positive beagles will do much more damage to a tree than a little cold weather.

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  John Quinn on Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:34 pm

And I'm sorry, but on a day with a wind chill of -20, there is absolutely NO way that a pot buried in the snow is going to stay wamer than one covered up on a snow free porch.
I think you'll be unpleasantly surprised...

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  barthur on Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:03 pm

John Quinn wrote:And I'm sorry, but on a day with a wind chill of -20, there is absolutely NO way that a pot buried in the snow is going to stay wamer than one covered up on a snow free porch.
I think you'll be unpleasantly surprised...


Could be, but don't think so. I'm pretty much thinking anything, given the choice between sitting in the yard totally encased in ice, or hanging in an area with no snow and covered so that the wind doesn't touch ya, well, dang near everything would pick the no snow route. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand your concept, but I don't think it would be too hard to develop a type of skirting to enclose the bottom, totally keeping it draft free, thereby reducing wind chills dramatically. No one seems to get the idea that I'm not looking for perfection, just something pleasing to see and take care of. Are my trees going to be picture perfect show pieces like this forum recognizes? No, but since I'm not remembering any bonsai shows taking place on my porch, it really doesn't matter to me. Sorry if I seem snippy, but I truly though this hobby was more for the love of creating a miniature tree, not perfection, but the minute I hit this forum I realized I was wrong. Yes, I've gotten a few tips, but they have mostly been interspersed with jabs about what I'm doing isn't bonsai, won't work, it's not like we do it, and that kind of stuff. I honestly thought(and was sadly proven wrong!)that I could get some friendly advice as to how to make my project, whether it's the same as you guys or not, the best that this project could actually be. That's all I was looking for.

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  Norma on Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:01 pm

Hi Again,

Ah, if only it was that simple ! I have , over the years, collected many indigenous trees which I buried in late fall under oak leaves in a little cedar grove. The grove provides shade and allows the trees snow/wind cover. This is important because once frozen the soil must not be thawed until spring. If the soil thaws and refreezes you risk killing the tree because the freeze/thaw/refreeze cycle will turn the roots to "mush".

I have a wonderful tamarack forest that has survived 10 winters in the extreme cold of Minnesota. Perhaps a forest arrangement would be an answer but it must be trees that normally survive winters in your area. You will need to keep the roots frozen for the duration of the winter but with your determination I think it could be attempted. Just don't put in something expensive until you know if you can successfully keep it alive for a few years.

Norma


Last edited by Norma on Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:48 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  papecon on Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:53 pm

B- You posted a request for advice. Sorry if you feel attacked. Many of the people here have been practicing Bonsai for decades. Their experience comes from years of trial and error. Rest assured their advice is intended to insure you have a positive first experience with a hobby/ artform we all love. If you intend to rebut all their advice with the reasons you are going to do it differently, you may find yourself getting a lot less advice. This website is a very valuable tool. The longer you practice Bonsai, the more you will understand the reasoning behind " The way we do things". Good luck with your trees. Tom

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

Post  Cliff on Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:01 am

barthur wrote:I'm pretty much thinking anything, given the choice between sitting in the yard totally encased in ice, or hanging in an area with no snow and covered so that the wind doesn't touch ya, well, dang near everything would pick the no snow route.
It's not just wind chill, it's the temperature of the air versus the temperature of the ground and the insulating properties of wood & air versus snow. Would you rather spend the winter living in a big uninsulated wooden crate that's on top of another empty wooden crate, or living in an igloo? The igloo with its foot-thick walls of snow will be a lot warmer than the crate. Snow is a great insulator, and the ground won't get as cold as the walls & floor of that wooden crate. When the weather is 0 degrees with a wind chill of -20, the temperature of the ground under the snow will still be well above zero. The roots of a tree sitting in a pot on the ground under a foot of snow will be much warmer than a tree sitting in a soil-filled tray a few feet above the floor in an unheated box.
barthur wrote:I don't think it would be too hard to develop a type of skirting to enclose the bottom, totally keeping it draft free, thereby reducing wind chills dramatically.
Closing it in with a skirting or even closing in the entire porch will eliminate wind chill on the bottom and may reduce the temperature swings, but air and thin boards are poor insulators, so it'll still get a lot colder inside that box than the ground under the snow.
No one seems to get the idea that I'm not looking for perfection, just something pleasing to see and take care of.
No, we understand that. We WANT you to be happy with your trees, whether they're bonsai or not. But won't you be upset if those trees die after the first winter? We're just offering you on how to keep your trees alive and healthy. Maybe you can keep them alive in a soil-filled tray on a porch, but the trees will have a better chance of survival if you follow our advice. And all your ideas sound like a LOT more work than what I do wiith my own trees.
Are my trees going to be picture perfect show pieces like this forum recognizes? No, but since I'm not remembering any bonsai shows taking place on my porch, it really doesn't matter to me.
And that's perfectly fine. They won't be bonsai, but they don't have to be bonsai. If YOU like your trees, that's the only thing that matters. We're just telling you what we think it'll take to keep those trees alive, based on our knowledge and experience. When we told you your idea won't be "bonsai", we weren't attacking you, just correcting a misconception.

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Re: All you pros, help a newbie figure out something, thanks!

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