Bonsai Willow Tree

Last November, I cut a twig from a willow tree near my house, put it into water and waited for the roots to grow. They did after a while and so I planted it and from time to time cut it to make it into a nice bonsai. I wouldn’t call it a proper bonsai tree yet, but I like how it has turned out so far.

willow tree

Bonsai Willow Tree

I think willow trees are a good way to start into bonsai. They grow quickly and they are easy to maintain. (My five year old avocado tree died, by the way and my bought olive tree might be dead, too.)

This is the only tree I haven’t grown from seeds.

Here’s a video of it with a 360° view:

Recycling Coffee Dregs

As I wrote yesterday, I used coffee dregs in a mixture with soil for my pine seeds. I’ve read a bit about recycling coffee dregs and coffee grounds and there are an amazing number of things you can do with that “aromatic waste”.

Using Coffee Grounds and Coffee Dregs As A Fertilizer

First of all, you can use it as a fertilizer. Apparently, it will mainly effect the leaves and help them grow. Unfortunately, I cannot find the source any longer.

You can also use coffee as an organic pest control. Even in Parks and Recreations, they featured coffee as a slug-repellent! I read that it also works for (or rather against) moles … and cats. But who would want to repel cats?! I had some tiny insects in some of my pots which had come with the soil. I added some ground coffee on top of the soil. They’re not dead yet, but I’m hopeful. And it smelled sooo nice when I watered the plants!

Recycling Coffee Dregs Into Pots

During my research, I came across that company that recycles coffee dregs into plant pots. Just google it, I don’t want to help them with their SEO to much. That sounds like a beautiful idea for bonsai pots! You only need some casts, but I have plenty of LEGO to work with.

coffee + resin and tea + resin
(c) davidneat

I guess, one would make a silicone mold first and pour a mixture of coffee and resin into it, like this guy (picture by him) did.

Then I came across a related matter: Animal coffins made of recycled coffee and other organic material. I guess one could use that material for bio-degradable pots. I found some “recipes” for organic glue, which in combination with coffee grounds and other stuff could be used. I’ve used up all my coffee dregs already, so I cannot try today. But there is plenty of supply at the office!

Using Coffee for Dyeing

Then, you can use coffee for dyeing fibers and other things like eggs for Easter. Somewhere I read that someone used it as a henna substitute for making tattoos. I won’t go into more detail, because this is not my area of expertise – not that the above areas were….

You can also use it as a peeling for cleaning your skin. And for odor control…

Bonsai Nursery For My Balcony (only a plan so far)


Bonsai Nursery Idea

Bonsai Nursery Idea (made in Google SketchUp)

This is what I would like to build for my balcony to house the seedlings. I could actually build it now and place it indoors in front of the balcony door…
However, neither having a car nor even a driving license, getting the material home is quite difficult, especially the larger parts and the paint.

I enjoy making such plans so much! Lets hope I can realize it…

Or maybe I’ll make an IKEA hack. Use IVAR shelves…

IKEA hack plant nursery

IKEA hack plant nursery

Shopping Trip to Klee Gartencenter and Supermarket

Today, I decided to try a garden store my co-worker recommended, because she said that they had bonsai trees and could also consult on Bonsai. They sure had some trees and I got a little olive tree for 7,99 €.
They also had some scissors for Bonsai, but they looked shabby. So I got common garden scissors instead. I also bought some aluminium wire, not from the Bonsai department, but from the handicrafts department.

Bonsai Olive Tree, Scissors and Wire

Then I needed to do some grocery shopping anyway and luckily, they had avocados (not that unusual) and pine cones (very unusual, but maybe due to the season). As I mentioned in my wishlist, I wanted a Hass avocado anyway. I forgot to check where it came from, but I guess Israel again. The pine cone, however, is from Turkey.

Hass Aocado and Pine Cone

Preparing my Avocado Tree to become a Bonsai

I had been reading another Bonsai blog yesterday, which suggested to start with ten Bonsai trees, so one wouldn’t focus too much on only one. Starting with seeds takes a long time, though, so I decided to convert my Avocado tree into a bonsai.
Its trunk is very thin, so I decided to take this on as the first task. Just for the record, it is 6.6 mm at 10 cm above the higher of the cotyledons (there’s this word again, but I had to look it up – again).
It said in this other blog that one needed net pot planters. Apparently, the roots grow through the holes, but die because of the light. This makes the trunk grow stronger. Well, we’ll see about that. If I haven’t killed it by repotting it, that is.
So, after a long work day, I set out to the next DIY store with a gardening department. The weather was quite mild, otherwise I would’ve waited for the weekend to go during daytime. It already started raining when I was inside the store (well, in the outdoor area, so I hoped it was just a kind of irrigation system). But it DID rain alright. I was soaked when I got home.
Anyway, I got four net pot planters with matching (sizewise, not colorwise) saucers.

Net Pot Planters and Saucers

The I took the avocado tree from its pot, cleaned the soil off a bit with a chopstick (which was suggested in some other blog and which I find rather suitable for Bonsai) and cut some roots off. It said to cut off roots that grow downwards. I was a bit shy about the root cutting, because I was afraid to kill the tree, which has grown dear to me and which has moved houses three times already with me despite its young age.

Avocado Roots.
Note that I left some of the old soil.

Then I put some of the soil that came with the Bonsai starter kit into one of the round net pot planters, put the avocado tree in, added some of that soil and some of some special herbs soil I had bought some years ago, because it doesn’t contain any fertilizer.

Avocado Tree in its new “home”

Then I took the pictures, watered it, and put it back into the window sill. Fingers crossed that it will survive this treatment. I don’t think I have ever repotted any plant of mine.


I think the avocado came from Israel, by the way, so this is a proper mediterranean tree.

Growing Gezi Park en miniature


Most people will hopefully have heard of the protest of Gezi Park happening in Istanbul this summer. This park near Taksim Square is one of the few parks and therefore green places left in Istanbul. Having lived in Berlin and Leipzig which are both very green cities and having been to Istanbul, I can assure everyone that Istanbul is not very green.
16% of Leipzig are green space[1], 14 % of Berlin are[2] (another source even speaks of 46%[3]). Only 4% of Istanbul were green space in 2009[4]. The government planned to build a mall and to destroy Gezi Park. This and the overall tendency of the government to clear forests in the area surrounding Istanbul (for example for the third Bosporus Bridge) gave rise to protest which were most violently answered by the police. At the time I mostly followed occupygezipics on tumblr. Popular Hashtags were #direngezi and later #duranadam.

Bridge Piers for 3rd Bosporus Bridge, Photo taken on Oct 22nd 2013.
Note the clearings already made.

New protest has been going on since October 2013 (I think), because a highway is planned to be build in the campus area of Ankara and 3000 trees are to be cleared for that. When I was at Taksim Square and Gezi Park last time during my stay in Turkey, there was a lot of police with their TOMA. I was quite scared, but we had left the place before the protest and beating up started.

Idea: Grow Bonsai Trees from Gezi Park Trees

Those events still in mind, I thought that it might be a nice idea to grow Bonsai trees from seeds or cuttings collected in Gezi Park (although cuttings might not be allowed – so please don’t do that). It won’t help people in Istanbul breathe, but it would be an idea to preserve the lineage of those trees in a way. Even when the Park will be demolished. A kind of quite and green and artful protest. It wouldn’t have to be bonsai, actually, but it would fit into this blog better if it was.
I will ask my friends in Istanbul to try and get me seeds. But it would also be an idea for Istanbul people to preserve part(s) of Gezi Park. Small comfort, I know.


01: Ausflug ins grüne Leipzig (Text in German)
02: Pflege und Unterhaltung des Berliner Stadtgrüns (Text in German)
03: In gritty Berlin, green space plays a surprisingly large role
04: Megacities und Stadterneuerung, p. 73. (Text in German)

Starting the Blog

Seeds from Turkey

This October, I spent 12 days in Turkey with two friends exploring the Aegean coast and especially the ancient sites. I wanted to bring souvenirs, but as taking potsherds and fossils isn’t allowed, I collected some seeds instead.

From the beach in Gümüşlük, I got three olive seeds, another three from the Asklepeion in Pergamon, an acorn from Troy (more about that one later), a chestnut and some seeds of a fruit, but I don’t know which, from Kaplan Köyu (or Kaplan Villages). I also took an olive twig from near the Temple of Athena in Priene.
The olive seeds I put in my purse, but the other seeds into a plastic bottle with water I could easily carry around with me.
When I arrived back home in Germany, I put all the seeds into water, carefully trying to remember, which olive seeds I got from where.

Bonsai Starter Set

Two or three days ago, I ordered a Bonsai starter set on the internet.

It contains a mini green house, a book about Bonsai, several planters, soil, fertilizer substrate, three bonsai glazed bowls, 23 olive seeds, 33 dwarf pomegranate seeds and 32 myrtle seeds as well as some mimosa seeds (for marketing reasons). The seeds came with instructions of their own and I followed those. It said to water the seeds (with the olive seeds previously having been treated with sand paper) in room-warm water for 12 hours/ overnight/ 24 hours.

It was 28 €, which I for now consider a very good price. We’ll see how many seeds actually germinate…

The Turkish Seeds

Because I considered the acorn and chestnut to be watered sufficiently after at least a week, I already put them into water. It says in the book that acorns should hibernate in sand, but it had already broken its shell when I picked it up in Troy, so I didn’t follow that instruction. Fingers crossed!

The Experimental Setup

I put all seeds into the mini greenhouse and put them under surveillance:

I attached a webcam to the wall, so it can take pictures every 12 hours (for now). Problem is that it needs to be connected to the laptop at all times, which rather limits my range of my using the laptop. I have thought about getting a Raspberry Pi solution, but that would be another project altogether, because my “programming skills” are limited to HTML and CSS.