Bonsai Pointers: 1. What Is Bonsai?

It is difficult to give a clear and exacting statement on what is bonsai. I always have this predicament when confronted by this very question.

The uncertainty is compounded by the self-recognition that even after several years of actual practice, I myself am still a beginner who spends so much time analyzing, designing, and redesigning a potential tree that comes my way.

Nevertheless, I always do the explaining, retrieving my store of memory on the subject which has accumulated with time from various readings, conversations, seminars, exhibits, and hands-on experience.

The word bonsai comes from bon, meaning tray or pot, and sai, meaning tree. Literally, therefore, the word should mean potted tree.

However, there are more to it.

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Vermicomposting, Its Progress as a Technology, and How to Do It Guide

What is vermicomposting?

According to Arancon and Edwards (2006), it is the non-thermophilic process by which organic materials are converted by earthworms and microorganisms into rich soil amendments with greatly increased microbial activity and nutrient availability.

The term has its origin in vermis, the Latin word for worm.

The term is also used to refer to the technology of converting raw organic materials into organic fertilizer supplements, called vermicompost, mainly through microbial action and the use of certain species of earthworm.

In addition, the technology is applied in waste management by which organic “wastes” are recycled and made available for plant growth.

This process is inseparable from vermiculture or the culture of earthworms.

In vermiculture, the earthworm is the primary product while the vermicompost is only a by-product.

But the primary object of the vermicomposter is the production of vermicompost, a special type of compost, with earthworms as a secondary product.

In vermicomposting, the organic materials must be chosen with care or mixed in the right proportions and the compost bed must be provided with optimum conditions for the growth and reproduction of earthworms so that they will be more efficient in their feeding of the organic materials and producing excreta called vermicast.

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To City Dwellers: Produce Your Own Plant Food, Go Pot Gardening!

Pot gardening or container gardening is the growing of plants, singly or in a group, exclusively in pots or containers rather than directly on the ground.

This method is ideally suited for urban farming where planting ground is limited or unavailable.

It is generally applied for houseplants and is also useful in areas where the soil or climatic conditions are not suitable for a particular crop.

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Plant Fruit Trees Now: an Advisory and a Challenge

Yes, plant fruit trees, coconut, and other perennial crops with haste.

For those who work in the office day after day, such can be incorporated into the retirement plan.

Such a farm can be a comfortable retreat after years of going back and forth to the office.

As admitted by those traditional mono-crop corn farmers, it can raise the market value of a farm and so it can become a sound investment.

If you are one of those who call themselves poor farmers and yet own and live in a farm that remains weedy and barely productive, make a turn-around.

If that farm has a rugged terrain that is hardly suitable for annual crops, now should be the right time to plant fruit trees and other permanent crops.

Not later, not tomorrow, not another year.

Stop being intransigent, stop giving alibis, put an immediate end to the time-wasting.

By all means continue growing corn, but improvise and be more productive.

Stop practicing pure monocropping and diversify, adopt multiple cropping. Plant fruit trees, coconut, and/or other perennial crops.

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Growing Peanut Is Right, That’s What I Thought

The peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.), also called groundnut, is a popular annual crop. It is listed as one among the many leguminous seed crops and also oilseed crops.

Statistics provided by FAOSTAT (2019) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations revealed that in 2017 the top 3 producers of groundnuts with shell in the world were China (17092000 tons), India (9179000 tons), and the United States of America (3281110 tons).

Botanically the plant is a legume under the family Fabaceae or Leguminosae rather than a nut.

Just like other members of the family, it produces fruits. Its fruit, often called “nut”, is technically a pod (also “legume”).

It is connected to the stem with an elongated thread-like pedicel called a peg.

This leguminous plant is unique for having fruits that develop underground.

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No-till Farming Boosts Corn Farming: Introduction to Actual Cultural Practices

On a separate page, I wrote about increased corn farming activities in our remote, mountainous part of Sarangani using no-till or zero tillage farming techniques.

Not only has the area planted to corn (maize) expanded, much of those parts of farms which have not been cultivated before or otherwise considered as hardly suitable for annual crops have, since the past few months, been converted into beautiful green landscapes of corn vegetation.

I know how hard and laborious it is to produce corn in remote places with mountainous terrain and where the only mode of transport is by foot and animal “power”.

And so it was somewhat surprising to find recently that there has been a surge in corn farming activities applying no-till farming techniques, at least in this community of marginal farmers.

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What Is Plant Nutrition vs. Animal Nutrition, Notes on Its Historical Development

Plant nutrition is a study that deals with plants’ need for certain chemical elements including their specific and interactive effects on all aspects of plant growth and development, their availability, absorption, transport, and utilization.

These chemical elements are referred to as plant nutrients

Those nutrients which have been proved absolutely needed by plants are commonly called essential elements.

They include carbon (C), oxygen (O), and hydrogen (H) which are derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and from water (H2O), as well as the mineral nutrients which are mainly absorbed from the soil in ionic forms through the roots.

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Proper Site and Crop Selection Are Preconditions in Starting a Farm, but First Things First

Starting a farm that is plant-based sounds easy, but it is not and should not be so presumed.

Whether there is already existing farmland or one still needs to be found, farming should be well planned.

A general plan, ideally including a feasibility study, has to be prepared first taking into consideration all factors that may affect the profitability or sustainability of the undertaking.

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How We Propagated the Giant Staghorn Fern Our Way

The Giant Staghorn Fern or capa de Leon (Platycerium grande) can be propagated deliberately from spores even without following the advanced, but meticulous, procedure in fern spore propagation.

The latter involves the sowing of mature spores on sterilized fragments of “cabo-negro” or “paslak” and maintaining humid conditions all throughout until germination and seedling emergence.

Mass propagation by spore can also be done through tissue culture.

Cabo-negro is a local term for the indigenous, black, trunk-like columnar plant organ probably consisting of the root of a giant terrestrial fern.

It was only by accident that we discovered that the Giant Staghorn can be mass-produced sustainably by exploiting its natural method of propagation.

We’ve had several large Giant Staghorn ferns in the backyard at General Santos City since about 40 years ago, but we always grow these from starter plantlets or juvenile ferns which we bought from private suppliers.

Until recently, the city had a hot climate with scarce rainfall.

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Adult Mango Trees Can Be Converted to Another Variety by Top-grafting

Top-grafting, or topworking, is the grafting of the top portion of a plant that is already mature or large enough to have several branches.

An equivalent technique in which budding is used is called top-budding

The technique is not new, it has in fact been thoroughly discussed by Hartmann and Kester (1975) in their book Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices.

The authors say that the technique is used to convert an already established long-lived plant, either a tree, a shrub, or a vine, into another variety or cultivar.

Accordingly, apples and pears are examples of long-lived plants that can be top-grafted.

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