Central Virginia Bonsai Society
below from the July 8, 2019, CVBS Newsletter
SUMMER IN THE GARDEN> July is here, signaling that the summer phase of the annual growing cycle is fully engaged. Most of our bonsai settle down to a less active state of foliage production. Leaves have hardened on all but the newest growth of the deciduous trees. Needles have hardened on the pines as well. This means that fertilizer will not produce increased leaf/needle size. The trees will now mostly use fertilizer for creating new wood in the stems and storing resources in the roots. Perhaps the main exception is that pines in the black pine group will use the resources provided by summer feeding to make their second flush of growth, especially if shoot removal has been done to promote new small second growth.
Now is the time to remove all of this yearís shoots (except very weak ones) from Japanese black pine, red pine, and vigorous pitch pine. This will stimulate the production of new smaller growth at the base of the removed shoot. Usually multiple new buds will appear at the cut point. Remove all but the two most favorably oriented for the tree design. By the time fall arrives, the two new shoots will have matured with a single bud (usually) and pleasantly reduced needle length. Feed and water well to provide resources for creating the new flush of smaller foliage.
Shoot removal is NOT practiced on pines other that the three mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Needle size reduction is achieved by providing lots of sun, NO fertilizer other than trace elements, and just enough water during the period from winter until July 4. Strong sun and lack of resources will produce shorter than normal needles for these pines such as Japanese five needle, Scots, Mugo, and ponderosa. After needles harden (around July 4) provide plenty of fertilizer and water to build strength and buds for next year.
Propagation by rooted cuttings or air layers becomes more difficult at this season due to the heat and relatively short time left before cold weather returns. There are some exceptions such as azaleas, some chamaecyparis, and others. If cuttings are available, there is no waste in trying.
Persimmon seed sprouting has always been a bit of a challenge. This year I planted my seed much deeper than normal, probably about 1Ē below the soil surface. As usual, they were slow to germinate. However, instead of the seed and primary leaves erupting from the soil because of the vigorously extending tap root, a nice plant emerged from the soil free of seed parts or other issues. Itís a bit early to know the final result but at this point it appears that successful germination is much greater and the plants are growing more vigorously. Itís nice not having to attempt caesarean sections on each seedling to free each plant from the seed. The seedlings also seem to appreciate avoiding the trauma of my surgical attempts.
I have had a problem with a type of unusual aphid on new growth of my persimmons for years. This very tough aphid causes the new growth to curl and distort. All the pesticides seemed ineffective other than systemics which helped somewhat. For two years I have tried putting ant bait stations around the persimmons. Only one or two per bench seems to have mostly eliminated the aphid problem. I believe that the aphids are brought to the persimmons by sweet eating ants which protect the aphids from predators as well. The bait I use is a Raid product available at Kroger. The bait is contained in a small white plastic square with small holes in the sides for ant access. As the bait stations are very light, they are subject to blowing and floating in outdoor weather. I suggest using a push pin to fasten the stations in place by pinning the corners of the bait station where no bait is located. Do not puncture the circular portion of the station which contains the ant poison. Ants scouting for food take the bait back to the nest and the queen and her subjects are all destroyed.
Japanese beetles have been out for about three weeks. They have eaten holes in the top leaves of my Chinese quince but have not been much of a problem otherwise. Spraying to control these beetles is possible but is a environmentally harmful brute force solution. I think capturing the beetles with a jar half full of water is more effective and satisfying. If the jar is held just below the beetles, they will roll off of the leaf and drop into the water when oneís hand is passed over the beetles. They see the moving hand as a threat and rely on their roll, drop, and fly instinct to escape. Properly done, they will drop into the water where they can be treated to extended swimming lessons.
ADAMSí BONSAI HAPPENINGS> I am really enjoying the additional time available to work on my trees since passing the wire production to Jeremiah. The trees are getting the attention they need for the first time in a number of years and it is starting to show. I think the garden looks better than it has in years. I miss the regular interaction by phone and email with all of the wire users around the country. I do see many of them at bonsai events and there is still the contact related to continuing plant sales.
Somehow, I seem unable to stop rooting more cuttings. Perhaps the additional time is not all positive. I have more cuttings under mist than ever before and I havenít even taken the Zuisho cuttings yet. The babies will grow up if they root. Where will I put then all?
Warfare with the deer population continues. They are not as numerous and it seems there are more bucks than does. This is good news. In spite of seeing fewer deer, the tick population has been very big this year, no doubt as a result of the mild winter. I have managed to contract either Lyme or ehrlichiosis again resulting in very sore joints and general lethargy. Spectacular side effects of my shingles shot combined with the gift from the ticks to make for a couple of weeks during which my energy and enthusiasm for doing much was very low. A week of antibiotics seemed to bring me back to normal. I HATE TICKS!!!
The vegetable garden got off to a great start this year with all the early rain at the right times. Over the last month, things have started to dry out but with the good start and good mulching, I have been able to keep things looking good with only a little watering. The blueberries fed the birds as usual but the blackberry crop is so large that the birds and squirrels have only made a minor dent in the crop. The potato crop was good. Beans and cucumbers are coming in a steady flow. Tomatoes should start within the week.
Late Friday afternoon my misting system stopped working. With the current heat, this meant big trouble for my pots of cuttings unless I could repair it quickly. At night, dehydration is not an issue. However, when the sun is beating down during the day water needs to be applied to the cuttings every 15 Ė 30 minutes. The mister is my design so there was no way to replace it. I could only find the problem and fix it. It turned out to have two problems simultaneouslyÖa most difficult situation to diagnose and repair. A broken wire was the simpler of the two problems. A bad water valve was the more difficult problem. Since the last time I repaired the water valve, the last appliance store with universal parts had changed hands and business philosophy. It didnít have the universal water valve/solenoid in stock. The only source of a new valve was the internet. I could have one in two days but the plants would need manual watering until the. This was not a good situation.
Needless to say, very few appliance repairmen are available on Saturdays or Sundays. With the help of the last old fashioned hardware store in town, I got the number of a guy who worked on older washing machines. He also answers his phone on weekends. He didnít have a new valve but was able to sell me a used one taken from a junk washing machine in his back yard. By supper time Saturday the mist system was back in operation thanks to his helpfulness. I did get a replacement valve and a second one for backup delivered today by Amazon. A full day of frustration and worry finally paid off and, thanks to watering help from Constance, the pots of cuttings were unscathed. An emergency backup system will be in place shortly!!! I donít want to do this again.
Running in hot weather is always hard. When one is old and regularly ill with tick borne diseases it is even tougher. Iím still getting out for 3-4 miles two or three times a week but is about all I can do on those days. If I stop running Iím afraid I may have to give up pie and ice cream.