The Smart Ass Wife and Training Pots   10 comments

My wife and I are coming up on our Thirty year Wedding Anniversary. I can remember the Anniversary due to the fact that I found bonsai during said Honeymoon. There are those out there that may wonder how my wife has been able to put up with me for so long with so many expensive hobbies and spending so much of my free time on trees instead of her. Well…the answer is simple. She is one in a million. She retired this past March and was diagnosed with breast cancer in July. She is a trooper and has always been able to dish it out at me pretty well. She takes pictures of me pointing to places on a tree with a chopstick and even was with me when I bought the pink thong ….and took the picture! How many wives would be complicent in that?  Here she is bald as a billiard ball.


OK, enough about my wife because we will come to her later.

I procured a few large filed grown trident maples last year from my friend Steve DaSilva. They have done very well this summer and this spring I will do the necessary ground layer on each to get them into the correct size pots. I wish to grow them out in air type pots due to how well the roots grow. Problem is I can’t find the necessary size large enough for the size of the maples currently. I need a minium if 12″ x 12″ just to get them into the soil.

I decided to build my own. I wanted something simple, not cost too much to make, and hold up for future use with other trees. I started out deciding that I want to make them from hardware cloth. That way I could simply fold the mesh and make a pot. I started with a two foot wide roll of 1/8″ hardware cloth. I bought six feet to get my feet wet. The tools I would need, stapler, tin snips some screws and a nut driver for the screws and a tape measure.


I cut a piece from the roll 24″ by 24″.


Snip the corners at a 45 degree angle to make a hem.


Use a scrap strip of wood to fold the cloth at the halfway point of the 45.



Bend it down over the edge and finish up with the strip as a backer to fold it aqll the way over. use the block to flatten the hem.




Go all the way round on all four sides and fold the hem over. This is just to keep from ripping my fingers on the jagged stuff. If you are tough forget this step. It does add some rigidity.


I wanted about 5 inch tall sides. That gave me a square in the middle of about 13 inches. I cut a piece of board 13 x13.


I used a thin strip of wood from each corner of the board to the corner of the mesh and made a crease.


Then using a square block I made some mark at 90 degrees from the corners of the block. bent that up square at that point.




When you gather it all up it makes a square basket.


I stapled the corners together to hold them while I laced some 1mm bonsai wire around the top edge to hold it together.



Cut a couple 3/4 by 3/4 strips of redwood for legs to keep the damn root from growing into the ground and screwed them thru the mesh into the legs.




So I ended up with a 13″ x 13″ x 5″ plant basket all ready for my tridents and the 2014 growing season.


So now I am proud as a peacock. Strutin around like Cock of the Walk and take it in to show my wife. She is the one that gives me a thumbs up or thumbs down. Most of the time it is down, but I digress…

She looks it over. “Nice article”. “Well made”. “You really did nice job babe”. I am pumped. I can’t wait to share this with everyone. No longer will we have to settle for the wrong size pond basket, now we can make our own. She says..”that is cool, but you could have just bought those vegetable baskets at the Super Asia Market”!  DOH! I jump in my truck, hit the freeway and 30 minutes later I am home with 10 vegetable baskets in my favorite color, (match my thong) and I don’t have to do a thing.



14 inches in diameter


Exactly 5 inches tall. Made to order.


So, what did I learn from all this. Ask the smart ass wife first.

al thong






Posted December 14, 2013 by California Bonsai Art in Trident Techniques

10 responses to “The Smart Ass Wife and Training Pots

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  1. Best blog post EVER. High point of my day… In the middle of a month and 1/2 run of Nutcracker shows, so really needed a good laugh, thanks for providing!

    • My wife is my muse. She is the best! We have a lot of fun in life, and she’s a pretty good judge of good bonsai too! I take her to an exhibit and she makes one round. Comes back and says she is going to find a comfy seat to read..Take my time. I ask her for the best bonsai, and 9 out of ten times she is spot on the money. Funny, she has absolutly no interest in doing this. Cactus..Ha! dirt under her fingernails for days, but not bonsai. Weird duck she is…

  2. We celebrated our 30th this past April Al, so I know only too well what it feels like to have met that one in a million. Congrats to you both.
    Such sad news to hear of your wifes diagnosis. We wish her nothing but a full and speedy recovery.

    re the Asian vege baskets…. we know them as kitchen collanders down here and there are quite a few guys who swear by them for growing Black Pine as well. I have a big commercial nursery up the coast who brings in the “green” color nursery version in numerous sizes from around 20ins diameter down to about 8ins. and only a couple of bucks each. I did get onto some square pond baskets for growing waterlillies and the like from Bunnings….(our hardware version of Walmart), but they are a bit deeper which is a bit of an issue.
    Will you do a “How to Ground Layer Tridents” post? …. I hope so. Would love to see your step by step on that one.

    Happy holidays my Fresno friend.

  3. Thanks Shane, yes I will be on that pretty soon too. I have to be done with repotting by the first couple weeks in Feb.

  4. ” I found bonsai during said Honeymoon.” Well, there’s wood, and there’s “wood.” Thats all I’m sayin…

  5. I wish you would write more often. This post damn near had me in tears at “one in a million” laughing by the end and then crying again when I saw the pink thong pic

  6. I agree with others, Al. This is your most entertaining blog ever and it seems to have struck a cord with your readership…at least the North American folks.

    • Thanks Mike, You being a busy Surgeon know how hard it is to do quality bonsai and keep the home fires burning. Work really gets in the way of my bonsai lifestyle. My wife is doing great, and thanks for the well wishes at the swapmeet. I found your reply about stealing photos most entertaining. My wife found it quite funny also!

  7. Happy Holidays !

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