Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rockset bonsai pots - an alternative for the creative minds!

Rockset is a product made to have a quick setting cement mixture used to fill brittle holes when using draw-bolts or to fill up cracks in cement floors etc.  "it looks like Quickcrete and DAP are two manufacturer's that have comprable products that are readily availble in the US. And for Canada and the EU one should browse the LaFarge catalogs to see what is offered there. Hydrolic Cement is the right search term to use. And the products labelled for setting machinery, key being that it flows and is a polymer-cementitious composite material is what you need to look for." - Thanks Leo.
It sets in about 30 minutes and have the consistency of condensed milk when mixed correctly.

Here is a few unsealed examples of my experiments with the medium:

Here is a step by step how-to:

1. The Rockset, the FB10 sealer and the the mould - in this case plastic plant pot dripping trays:

 The lip of the inside tray is cut of to make pouring of the Rockset easier.
2. For holes I have used very small dripping trays, but rubber washers or any other flexible material can be used to make removing them later, a bit easier:
 The thickness of the drainage holes stoppers will, in a mould like this, determine the thickness of the pot.
3. The first Rockset is prepared and coloured by using an oxide. A teaspoon is used to drip it where needed. Brushes can also be used - creativity is here the magic word:
4. The second colour:
5. The third colour:
6. Now the inside mould is put in place and a weight placed on top of it to prevent the onside tray from floating on the Rockset:
7. The Rockset is then poured into the space between the two trays. If the cavity is very thin, it is quite difficult to pour the mix without spilling. Rather mix a few small amounts of Rockset at a time because it does sets quickly. The cavity filled up:
8. The curing takes a few hours and the mixture gets quite warm. After about three hours it would be safe to remove the trays. Plastic or aluminum moulds comes free easily. At this stage the top of the pot will be uneven and the top few millimeters will be soft:

  9. The stoppers are now removed and the rim leveled by using a sharp knife first and then sandpaper. If the pot is thick enough a small die grinder may be used to carve a lip if needed.

10. The pot from the side:
11. The pot will be left to dry out overnight. The inside will be brushed to remove any dust and then the whole pot will be painted by using a thin layer of the RB10.

This tree was planted in the sealed pot a few months ago and the pot (a little dirty now)seems to be holding up fine:

Rockset can be used for making slabs also - have fun!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ficus sycomorus

English common name: Common Cluster Fig
This is a large evergreen tree (10 – 25m in South Africa, but grow up to 45m in tropical Africa), with
a spreading crown and a yellowish trunk that is usually buttressed. It is the largest indigenous fig in South Africa and is associated with a high watertable, occurring along rivers and on seasonal floodplains throughout the subtropical and tropical regions of Africa.

Some examples of the tree:

The figs are large (25-50mm in diameter), yellow to red when ripe and borne in large, branched bunches on the main trunk and older branches.

The Ficus species of South Africa is grouped as rock-splitters, stranglers and trees and although the
Ficus Sycomorus is grouped under trees and there-fore not as popular as the other two groups for training as bonsai it still produces a fine bonsaitree. The roots are not as strong as the stranglers and rock-splitters but it can be used as root over rock.
 Here is a very nice example of a root over rock by Charles Ceronio:

 The trunk is strong with a greenish color especially when young. With care an excellent taper can be achieved.
 An example of a dug tree with massive taper:

The leaves are large on natural trees but they do reduce in size with the correct training over time, it is more suitable for larger trees.

The Sycomorus likes to be well watered especially in warm summer weather but more sparsely in winter. It is not frost hardy and should be protected in winter in areas receiving frost. It is suited for more informal styles such as informal upright and also root over rock. This tree should be kept outside in full sun to semi shade.
Repotting should take place every one to two years for young trees, and every three to four years for mature specimens. Medium to deep containers are preferred.

Normal fertilizer should be applied at a regular interval.

Heavy pruning should be done during the warm season when healing will be at its best.

Propagation is easily done by cuttings and truncheons.