This most recent Bonsai 101 class did NOT have us working on a tree. GOOD! Worked on trees have to be babied over the winter and I didn't want any more needing coddling.
This time we learned the what and why of bonsai soil. We learned why to do a top dressing (moss layer) on our trees and how to make it instead of paying big money to buy. And we made bamboo potting chopsticks in various sizes. It was a very interesting day.
Top dressing is one half dried sphagnum moss that has been soaking in water with a touch of Sume ink (for a better color).
After the soaking, it has to be laid out to dry.
The other half is 'pillow moss' (aka driveway moss!).
You have to trim off the 'roots' and dirt...
Then grate it on a 1/4 inch mesh screen. It then is dried. When that is finished, it is mixed with the dried sphagnum moss. It can be stored quite a while.
It is spread over the top of 70% of the soil. Just add water and you have moss! This protects the feeder roots of the tree and in the summer helps with moisture control.
Our teacher Eileen showing how to make the chopsticks.
It starts with splitting off pieces from a large bamboo piece.
Then you use nippers to shape one end in a wedge shape (like a bullet train). This works better than the round shape of culinary chopsticks.
After you make the basic shape, it is time to refine and smooth with a sander.
Finished (almost- could use some more sanding) chopstick and the piece of bamboo it came from.