The world around us is truly wonderful, and trees can give an amazing insight into our history, culture, and I believe, our future.
YouTube Round-Up for November 2014
Nov 17, 2014  |   Tree Science  |   No Comments

YouTube Round-Up for November 2014

I am always looking on YouTube for new clips and films about the things that interest me.  There are some excellent videos on there about tree and plant growing, and in what I hope to become a regular segment of my blog I am going to start publishing and showcasing some of the best videos that I have found.  Hopefully you will get to see something that you like.  If you have a video that you think should be featured then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and suggest a new video.

How to Grow Shiitake Mushrooms

A Simple Way To Root Plants From Cuttings

You might also want to check out the video on my tree science blog post.

How to Grow Bonsai Trees from a Seed
Nov 17, 2014  |   Tree Science  |   No Comments

How to Grow Bonsai Trees from a Seed

In another instalment of my bonsai posts, I wanted to share with you details on how I have successfully grown bonsai trees from seeds.  This blog post should be viewed in partnership with a previous blog post that I wrote about taking care of bonsai trees indoors.

Growing and raising bonsai trees indoors from seedlings can be so rewarding.  I love this method as it means that you are always in full control of the development of the tree and can grow and nurture it kind of like how you would a child (extreme view, but that’s how I view some of my trees!)

Having said that it can take a very long to get the bonsai to be fully grown and cultivated so a lot of patience is needed, although no doubt a lot less than raising kids eh!  You can read my full guide below, and also watch this excellent supplementary video that I found recently on Youtube which I think is the best example by far of how to do this – although our methods to differ a little bit.

Where to Buy Bonsai Seeds

In terms of seeds, what you need to do is buy from a good supplier.  You can get some on Amazon, but I always prefer to purchase from independents.  The Bonsai Outlet are pretty good to be honest although I always recommend that you do your own research into this.

So first off, the season you plant your seeds is pretty important because if you are growing trees that are not native to your climate than you need to do something called stratification. This process means that you can keep the bonsai seeds in a good conditions before you plant them.  For beginners to tree planting and cultivation this can be quite complex.  But then growing bonsai trees is never a simple task.

The Best Time to Grow Bonsai

I always recommend the autumn time as it follows the natural cycle and seedlings will have a whole summer to grow after you get the germination process working in early spring. If you do it like this then you don’t have to concern yourself with the stratification process I spoke of earlier.

The Process

Firstly I want you to dig a hole around 15 centimeters deep making sure to leave an adequate drainage hole.  As far as the pot goes, you should create a bottom layer which has fine gravel and akadama to about a quarter of the pot.  Then on top of the akadama, use fine gravel and organic soil which should only take up to about 3 centimeters below the edge of your pot.

Next up get your new bonsai seeds and line them up into the pot making sure that they are at least 6 centimeters apart each time.  Having said this, it really does depend on the size of the seeds that you are using.  After you have laid the seeds down make sure to cover them up with soil which then needs to be heavily watered in the beginning.

Once you are happy with the planting of the seeds you should then leave it in a bright place indoors such as a window sill or ledge, but away from the elements.  Keep the soil moist, after the initial watering but don’t let it become soggy or over-watered.

Hope Springs Eternal!

With any luck, the spring time should start to see some initial growth appearing through the soil.  This is the germination process and is probably the most exciting part in my view.  I always use a small amount of fertilizer at this point – but once the small sprigs get to a few centimeters tall it’s time to separate them into different plant pots if you wish.

Now it’s just a three year wait to see the fruits of your labor – so good luck!

I got the image of a bonsai from Flickr – copyright and credit to this guy here: www.flickr.com/photos/bdom

PS: I have also written a guide on how to grow cucumbers indoors.

My Guide on How to Grow Cucumbers
Nov 13, 2014  |   Tree Science  |   No Comments

My Guide on How to Grow Cucumbers

Vegetables and fruits are our key to health and happiness, but if hate buying them at the grocery store why not grow your own? One of the easiest fruits to grow is the cucumber. Of course, if you have virtually no idea how to go about the process you likely need a little assistance to get you going. Check out our brief step-by-step tutorial to learn how you can grow a cucumber.

First of all, let’s note that this tutorial is for cucumbers grown outdoors. There is a different technique used for indoor cucumbers.

Step 1. Sow your seeds. Cucumbers must be sown in mid-spring generally in-between April and May for the best results. Fill your growing pot (around 3 inches in depth) with seed compost. This helps nourish the fruit as it grows. Next, place your pots and cucumbers in a tight plastic bag. The best temperature to keep the seeds at or near is 68F. This allows them to develop properly.

Step 2. Allow 7 to 10 days to pass. After that grace period, your cucumbers should be sprouting pretty little flowers and start peeking out of the soil. You will now need to place them on a warm and bright windowsill where they have direct access to sunlight. Keep them here until they reach around 3 inches in length when they are ready to be transplanted.

Step 3. Water frequently and harvest. It is essential that you water your cucumbers every day and provide them with significant humidity as they hate being dried out. Once your cucumbers are showing themselves in near full form you can then harvest them. Once cucumbers reach around 6inches in length they are ready to be harvested. Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut them.

And there you have it! You’ve now grown cucumbers right from your very own home.

Many thanks to this person for the image used in the header: https://flickr.com/photos/zenat_el3ain/

How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree Kept Indoors
Sep 12, 2014  |   Tree Science  |   No Comments

How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree Kept Indoors

Taking care of a bonsai tree is not actually as hard as you might think.  The main thing to remember is that bonsai are always planted in very small plant pots, so there are a few guidelines and tips that you should follow in terms of watering, feeding (fertilization) and the potting of bonsai trees.

This article gives you some very brief information about how care and look after your bonsai tree so that it lives a long life and blooms to its full potential. Please visit a specialist bonsai website if you want really detailed information as I can only give you the basics.

Very Simple and Basic Bonsai Maintenance

Because bonsai trees are so much more delicate and fragile than your average indoor plant or tree, then you need to implement a few basics.  By following these you be should to take care of your small tree properly. The most important aspect is the watering, fertilizer and choosing the correct location to keep it so that it lives a long life.

Watering Your Bonsai Tree

The frequency with which your bonsai tree needs to be given water will depend on quite a few different and varied factors.  This includes aspects such as the tree species, the size of it, and the climate that you live in, or keep it in. Make sure that you water the bonsai tree at least a couple of times a day, but also monitor and water it when you see the earth has become dry and arid.  The earth in the plant pot should be moist at all times. And when you water, water very thoroughly.

bonsais tree

A Beautiful and Healthy Bonsai Tree

Using Fertilizer for Your Bonsai Tree

Because bonsai are usually placed in small pots, regular feeding is necessary to renew the nutrients that are essential to the tree’s growth and vitality. Using a special bonsai fertilizer is sometimes recommended, but I have noticed that any standard off the shelf fertilizer will do exactly the same job to the same standards.  Be careful to follow the package instructions on the fertilizer dosages and frequencies though so not to poison your bonsai tree.

The Importance of Location, Light, and Climate Temperature

Choosing the best location within which to keep your bonsai tree is crucial to their well-being and future growth. Always look to make sure that the indoor tree is put somewhere that is warm on a constant temperature.  Most bonsai tree species prefer a bright place, usually with at least some direct sun onto the leaves, branches, and trunks.

Additional Advice for Bonsai Tree Care

For more information please visit the excellent website called allthingsbonsai.co.uk.  This UK based Bonsai website has everything that you would ever wish to know about caring for Bonsai trees and comes highly recommended!

I got the image of a bonsai from Flickr – copyright and credit to this guy here: www.flickr.com/photos/spengler

PS: Since I originally wrote this blog post I have also created a new article about growing Bonsai from seeds.

How do Trees Grow: A Little Science
Sep 12, 2014  |   Tree Science  |   No Comments

How do Trees Grow: A Little Science

Over the years, a tree will not just grow in the height – it will also get gradually thicker. How do they do it? Why do they grow to a full length or only grows in certain places? Why do they thicken in some places, or only the outside of the trunk? How can they suck up water pathways and nutrients to keep up with the growth? And why hollow trees often live longer?

A tree trunk consists of millions and millions of cells. Length and diameter growth are essentially based only on a proliferation of these cells; but both length and thickness growth, going in completely different ways. Linear growth is limited to a small area at the stem tip; so it extends not to the whole plant. We can easily see this when we make a mark on the trunk: You always remains at the same height. A cut in the bark is found even after decades in the same place.

The tree’s tissue constantly produces new cells, but itself remains at the top, always at the top of the shoot tip. In the same proportion as the extended shoot, this tissue formation stretches into the air. Just below the tip, the cells get ready for their future tasks: to serve to fuel (as in water) line or to take responsibility for the growth of new shoots, and so on.

Herbaceous plants can quickly reach the final thickness on their stem axis. Other trees and shrubs on the other hand can take years for the trunk and branches to reach maximum thickness.

There is a small opening formed in the wood of trees in a zone between the bark and wood.  This is called the cambium and is extremely active most of the year as large quantities of wood cells move to the inside, with a few cortical cells moving to the outside. As a result, the inner growth lags behind the growth of wood bark.

The cells of wood and bark have very different tasks. The wood consists of setting agents, water supply and storage tissue. In this case, most of the wood no longer lives. Only in the vicinity of formative tissue you can still find living wood cells – especially memory cells. Therefore, one can in old, hollow trees, where the pathways are still reasonably intact near the bark, replace the bearing wood safely through a cement filling, as indeed happens again and again. The tree can then still live on for decades.

The bark is used for the management of organic nutrients. Outside, it creates a tissue from the thickened cells, to form the bark as a protective coat. These cork cells die soon after their formation. The outer part of the bark is dead; only the inner part, which serves the tissue and cell transport actually lives.

Where the climate changes with the seasons, the bark and wood-forming activity in the cambium, is not active all year round. In the autumn, the cell formation ceases and then happens again in the spring. The cells formed in the spring months are relatively thin-walled and spacious; they can manage large amounts of water and pass around the large amounts of water which is required for the growing parts of the tree. Later in cells are produced, which are thick-walled and narrow; This provides greater strength in the wood. The different cell shape leads many tree species to leave a sharp boundary between old and new wood – this is where you can see rings when you cut into trees on a cross-section cut.

Many thanks to this person for the image used in the header: https://www.flickr.com/photos/15216811@N06