Friday, February 24, 2017

Small beginnings for a little bonsai

I'm not an especially spiritual person, but I do believe in the power of coincidences to affect your life. Here's a simple gardening example ... there I was watering the garden (and that means making sure to water the pots in particular) when I looked at my potted curry leaf tree and felt a sense of regret that I hadn't ever got around to growing it as a bonsai, which I had promised to do on this blog about a year ago. Within one year it had grown too big for bonsai ... another plan that didn't happen.

A few hours later I opened my email inbox and there was a very nice email from a reader, Rehana, asking whatever happened to my curry leaf tree bonsai project. It was meant to be. Another coincidence working its magic. And so here is Day One of the curry leaf tree bonsai project! Thank you Rehana not only for your enquiry but also your exquisite timing.

Doesn't look like much at the moment, but patience is required. I have decided to raise my bonsai tree from seed, and keep it bonsai-sized from a very early age. Under the potting mix are two ripe seeds, hopefully doing their thing.

The potted curry tree is full of ripening seeds now, and unfortunately for the environment, these seeds need very little encouragement to sprout. Birds eat the seeds, then crap them out over bushland several kilometres away, and we have an environmental weed problem that gets worse the closer you are to the curry leaf trees' preferred subtropical climate. In Australia, these trees are becoming a problem on the NSW North Coast and into coastal Queensland.

This is our too-big potted curry leaf tree. Healthy and happy, it's already too big for its pot but I don't want to encourage it by putting it into a bigger pot. What I plan to do is cut the tree back fairly hard in early spring. Curry trees don't like Sydney winters, but they love our spring and summer, so if I cut it back in early September it will put on a lot of new growth in the months after that.

I'd hate to give you the impression that I know what I'm doing here. I don't really. It's all likely to be a big, mistake-filled experiment that might work out well, or might not.

All I know is that curry leaf tree seeds sprout very reliably and easy, which is why they are regarded as a weed. This is our second tree. We had our first one for many years in a pot, and it just grew and grew, and when its berries dropped to the ground they sprouted without any help from me. I pulled most of them out of the ground and composted the seedlings, but I also gave away one or two potted-up babies and they are now in friends' gardens, looking great and doing well.

So for this bonsai I hope the seeds will sprout. I will pick the healthiest of the two seedlings, and regularly clip it back and keep it small. My "starter" bonsai pot is too small for the eventual bonsai, so I will look around for a nice "big" bonsai style pot in the meantime. The challenge will be to clip back the bonsai plant both top and bottom: leaves on top and roots down below. Now I've made a start, I will post the occasional update on how it's all going. Wish me luck!

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