OK, so the tree above may be an exageration. When summer is over we think the work is done and now we can relax. People back east tuck their trees into cold frames, garages and mulch piles. Not so fast, did you get your fall fertilizing in for the year?
This is probably the most overlooked process for most bonsai of the year. For some reason everyone thinks Spring is the proper time to fertlize and then cut back in summer. This is just not true. Fall into early winter the bonsai needs its nutrition to handle the winter and be ready for the spring push. This is done thru fall fertlizing. This regimen should contain a larger dose of P and K but N will not be a problem now since the tree will not use it. The standard balanced formula’s are not a problem. At this time something less than 10-10-10 should be used but bloom food is good now, as well as tomatoe food. These have little nitrogen and are heavy on the backend for roots and trunks.
For me, I prefer organic in the spring and chemical in the fall. I want something slow and easy to keep internodes and leaves small but good balanced nutrition. In the fall, half dose three times before winter of miricle gro will suffice. Micro nutrients are really important now also. The tree is in storage mode and is putting on a layer of fat so to speak so the tree will uptake much more nutrition now without the sacrifice of shape and proportion we wish to keep for the spring shows.
This is also a time when the tree will actually fatten up. The trunk will get larger. Trunks get larger in spring too because they grow, but the growth is very lean and thin. There seems to be thin skin with hard wood underneath. In fall, the trunk will plump up and the branches can grow tight in the wire, even marking the bark. Checking trees everyday right now is very important since many will hardly look at them for the next several months all the while they are getting fat. Keep in mind that those in the east will have had to start this in August as by now many are putting trees away. In my area I have about 90 days to accomplish this regiman so I can bulk up trees right now very easily.
Here are some of the fertilizers I use thru the year. On the far left is the ole Japanese rape seed cake. These can be made at home or bought from Japanese suppliers. They are getting costly and harder to find in the states. I buy them in a big metal can from Japan at about 75.00 a can. Next year i will make my own if I have to or use the next best thing which is coming up. Next to the cakes is a compressed organic and micro nutrient fertilizer cake with humic acid by Grow Power. I still use these all year except July, August, and December. The green fertilizer is a product made by Apex. It is a really fast chemical fertilizer that is time release and lasts about 4 months. It is used mainly be commercial growers of lawns like Golf courses, baseball, and football fields, and race car tracks. It is pricy but man is it good. Jim Gremel turned me on to this stuff years ago. I get it from Sunkist Growers in the farming community. It is made by J.R. Simplot which is why the high cost. The one I use is 22-6-12, full strength.
The brown granuels are organic granulated fertilizer from poultry sources. It is very good in spring, steady and mild and leaves stay small. I consider this a good alternative to the costly cakes. The squirrels love them anyway and they do not bother the chicken poop. The blue bag, good old Miracle Gro. I use this in my siphon feeder. I now use half a bag in five gallons of water which waters my plants three times. Then I refill the bucket. I am using this right now and will continue until end of November