May 22, 2012

Peppers this season

Well, it's been forever since I have posted, but wanted to show my crop of hopefuls for this year. I am so glad I found Bhut Jolokia peppers this year, as I was hunting for them last year, but always arrived to the nurseries that carried them too late. (maybe that's why I bought 3 plants for this year)
The Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper) brings searing heat, as I can attest to having had a raw slice last year. Dehydrating these and saving them for later will go a LONG way! On the Scoville scale, this pepper is rated 800,000 - 1,041,000 scoville units. An ordinary Jalapeno is rated at 2,500 - 5,000...if that gives you any help understanding the intensity. There is a new hottest pepper out there, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, which goes off at a staggering 1,400,000+ on the scoville scale. Frankly, it gets to a point with me where hot reaches a limit.
This is another favorite that I have grown before, the Carribean Red Habanero. The beauty of this one is the lack of citrus notes found in the regular habanero, with almost a floral taste, but a bit more heat than a regular habanero.
This sad little struggler is the Fatali pepper, another in the habanero family, which produces peach flavors with the heat. I'm looking forward to trying this one this year, and will let you know what the results are. Also, not pictured is a pepper I picked up called the burning bush. They're in the Habanero family also, but are said to have a sweet taste....hmmm, we'll see.

July 24, 2011


Spent 4 hours thinning and cleaning my kishu shimpaku was a little over due as you can see.

From the back, you can see there isn't much light getting through.

The front side isn't much birds flying through this. So I cleaned up the bark, thinned it real good (still needs more top thinning) and gave it a rinse. Here's what it looks like now.

It needs a serious wiring this winter, and will work on the left side branching. What do you think Jeff?

March 10, 2011


Growing trees in aqua baskets. You've heard of it, or perhaps you haven't, but if you want great root systems on your trees....just do it! Here is what one of the trees I repotted today looked like-I know, it's getting awfully close to spring to do this in my area. Here is what the roots looked like when I dumped the topsoil off of it; you can see the tie down wires from 2 years ago.

Once the wires were cut, and the tree was out, root combing took place. Prior to growing in the baskets, regular potted trees produced lots of big roots on younger stock. As you can see, that doesn't happen here; this is what it looks like when the roots get a ton of air.

If you click on the second picture, you can see tons of that great mycorrhizal fungus that is so beneficial to great roots. All trimmed up and ready to go back in the basket, the tree is again tied down and soil is added.

I left the last picture half done on the top. Notice the size of clay king on the left to the size of soil on the right; a smaller grade is used on the top to help retain moisture. Here's the finished product.

I can tell you without a doubt that this process will help you achieve greater feeder roots on your pines. And greater feeder roots=greater nebari; the tree pictured here is 5-6 years old, and has been grown this way since I got it as a seedling. Free draining soil and LOTS of fertilizer. Growing pines in aqua baskets (also known as pond baskets) produces quick results; what are you waiting for?

November 04, 2010

As Fall temperatures begin dipping at night, it's time to make the last haul of the carribean red habaneros. Here's what came off this afternoon.

They're rated somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000 on the scoville scale, with regular orange habaneros being about 150,000. The nice thing about them is they lack the citrus tones found in a regular hab, and are straight heat....nice :)

October 02, 2010

Getting ready to transplant...Pot prep 101

After reading another entry on Jonas' wonderful blog, Bonsai Tonight, I thought I'd share a little preparation of my own. I like this time of year to be spent getting soil ready, and also pots. Being that my pots consist mainly of growing pots, I thought I'd share how I get one of my growing pots ready.
First off, you have to buy the pot-terracotta in this case, 4.99 each. With these pots being as cheap as they are, there is always a downfall or two, and those are irrigation, and the ability to break when wind blows them off a shelf. As far as the wind goes, using bulb pots has worked well for me. In this case, a 10" bulb pot. As for the irrigation, that's a little more complicated. For that issue I need to drill some drainage holes.

I use a 25 mm diamond tip drill bit, and get ready to add some holes, 4 in this case as it will make the tie down wires easier to insert-more about that later.

The most important thing when using a diamond tip bit is to keep the drilling area wet as you drill. As terracotta is pretty thirsty material, I spray it down pretty heavily before I start.

I then begin drilling, spraying water in the area as I go-can't see it in the picture, because I only have 2 hands, but 1 hand is drilling, the other spraying the water.

Once the drilling is done, you have a nice clean hole-now all you need to do is repeat the process 3 more times.

I use a 16 penny nail to go through the side of the drill bit to push out the terracotta plug.

Now it's time to do some drainage hole covering so the soil stays in the pot.

Making the tie downs is pretty simple-cut some 2mm wire into lengths long enough for your tie down (always err on the side of excess as you can trim it later after it's in)

Using your thumbs, make a "U" over the drainage hole that allows wire to hold down the drainage mesh on both sides of the hole. (again, picture would have both hands doing it, but 1 hand is holding the camera)

Now, with you left hand holding the "U" of wire, push it with your right hand and thumb towards your left hand making an "S".

Then, crimp both end with your pliers to create this....

Now bend one of the the outside wires down using your pliers allowing some of the wire to go over the edge of your drainage hole-it's important to use your pliers to make crisp sharp bends so that the mesh will be held in place firmly.

Then, put the wire into the hole, so you can see where to bend the other side down. Place your thumb over the spot and bend down with your pliers so your tie down looks like this.

Now double check that your tiedown is snug in the hole- if it isn't, re-bend the last bend to make it that way.

Just pass the tie down through the mesh, push it through the hole, and use your finger to push it against the pot and you're done. This is what it looks like when it's all done.

Now the pot is ready to transplant in the less thing to do.

January 22, 2010

Did a trident maple repot today, first real pot for this one. It had been growing in a big 3 gallon plastic pot for the past couple years, and I was satisfied with the beginning of a good nebari.

I removed the roots that weren't going to serve any purpose, including a couple bigger taproots. It had really gone to town.

Using my handy Astro Turf cutter, I removed more than half the roots...but I had a good groundwork layer at the base of the trunk to work with.
It barely made it into the pot, where it was secured, filled, sphagnum mossed, and trimmed in preparation for spring.

I'll be working on thickening the trunk just a bit more, not too much, then taking most of the top growth out, and working on making it wider.

January 20, 2010

Well, it seems posting to the blog has taken a bit of a sideline recently. I've decided to take a year hiatus from the Bay Island Bonsai club due to personal reasons, but will be back next year. It's been a rough couple of months, but I'm sure it will be fine soon enough. In the meantime, I'll post whatever it is I'm attempting to do at the time. Today, as with all week, I'm just trying to stay dry. Since Sunday night, the bay area (all of California for that matter) has been besieged by rain. It looks to continue through the rest of the week, so I decided to throw up a couple of rain photos just for fun. Do not adjust your set.

About Me

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Currently a member of Bay Island Bonsai-I have begun to learn all over again with Boon Manakitivipart