Worm composting bins can be placed nearby recycle bins at a cool place outdoors in hot Summer. Always remember 3Rs + 1R: reuse, recycle, reduce, plus renew with composting – vermicomposting on-site. Burnaby Red Wigglers and Kuna Red Wigglers, Idaho are grateful to share this activity in creating living soil for the community using red wigglers, reuse or recycle woods, and resource organic wastes: kitchen waste, garden waste, and farm waste.

The size of the bin is at least 1 X 0.5 X 0.75 meter in order to create heat at the peak of the Winter. Tarp is needed during the wet season, also watering during the dry Summer. The minimum temperature inside the bedding should be around 0°C during the winter and maximum 30°C during the Summer. Some organic wastes rich in carbon source can create heat at the peak of the Winter while the outdoor temperature is around -15°C. Insulation may be needed during the harsh Winter.

The density of the red wigglers in the bin can be started with 4 or 6 handfuls, or about 1000 – 1500 bed run worms; a mix of baby, juvenile, and adult size worms. Regular compost and shredded paper can be placed at the bottom of the bin at about 10cm depth. Feeding the worms with kitchen scraps, farm wastes, and selected wastes for example brewery waste. Former home of the red wigglers or worm castings (vermicompost) is needed as a microbe’s starter to cover the organic waste and speed-up the process of decomposition by the red wigglers and their friend’s decomposer.

This type of worm composting bin has been tested over the last Winter while the outdoor temperature was about -19°C. It is challenging to keep cool inside the bin in this hot Summer above 35°C. The photo can be zoomed to see ventilation in detail. 

I have just received good news that our hard worker red wigglers can survive well during the harsh Winter and hot Summer in the unpredictable prairies weather; with the range of the temperature can be 2 digits different in a day. They are thriving and producing the high quality of fresh worm castings for any plants. Moreover, their worm casting teas (after diluting the worm castings in the aerated water) are amazing for germination, transplanting plants, and make the plants more productive.

-Bintoro Gunadi

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Not all ferocious dogs like to bite. If its bunch of hair on the back cheek area is already touched, don’t hesitate to shake it, then okay to see the dog’s teeth, dog’s savage instinct will melt. It needs time to approach it. My record was with a bull terrier of my North American friend. It looked scary and full of suspicion at first. Offering food or drink to make a friendship didn’t work for a fighting dog like the bull terrier.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, bull terrier is a breed of dog developed in 19th century England from the bulldog, the white English terrier (a breed now extinct), and the Dalmatian. The bull terrier is active, loyal, and playful-even clownish-and is considered for its weight one of the strongest of all dogs. The bull terrier was developed for the dog-fighting pits as a courageous fighter but not an aggressive fight provoker.

I asked my friend what his dog’s hobby was. My friend said: “Bull very much likes playing with his master or Boss using a special thick and heavy ball that is like a baseball, a little bigger”. Boss also said: “Unfortunately, I haven’t played for a while with Bull”. I told him while looking at Bull:  Can I play with Bull? Boss with a grinning face answered shortly: “Sure, if you want”.

Boss called the fierce Bull, took the ball, and threw it there. Bull ran, caught it, brought the ball closer to his Boss, crouched for a while, and the ball was then placed slowly in the hand of his master. After several times then I was told to try to play with Bull that had a special fixed long chain hanging on his neck.

When for the first time I threw the ball, Bull didn’t want to catch it, he didn’t even look at the ball, let alone at me. Boss shouted: “Come on! Bull takes the ball”. Shocked, after the master gave a command, Bull hesitated to take it, still smelled first the ball then he was too lazy to bite. Might be he smelled my dirty and smelly hand or might be it’s an expression of his introduction to me.

I threw the ball again. Bull glanced at the master first and was still reluctant to take the ball. I tried to ask Bull for the ball, he just glanced not at me but always at his Boss. Boss shocked again: “Bull come on!”. I was waiting for Bull to place the ball in my hand, but instead the ball was rather lazily placed in the master’s hand. As if Bull protested to his master: ”Why didn’t you, Boss, throw the ball for me”.

After a few rounds of playing chain ball: I threw the ball, Bull took it, then gave the ball to his Boss, Boss grinning and the ball given to me, I threw the ball etc. etc. It seemed Bull started to be excited to play with me.

After Boss felt okay and secure, he said: “Excuse me, I have something to do inside”. What.. would I be playing alone with Bull? As Bull was already excited, I didn’t have the heart to walk out.

Bull was still suspicious and cheated on me by playing a ball. After I threw it and he took it, he didn’t give the ball to me. Bull crouched the ball a meter distance in front of me, with the ball still bitten tightly. I offered my hands out, just a glance cool, and didn’t hesitate to report to the Boss, if necessary, even though he often looked out of the window. “Bull, do you still want to play ball with me or not?”.

Boss shouted from inside the house: “Hooi… just take the ball from his mouth!! It will be okay; I give you my words “100% warranty”. Boss knew my problem in receiving the ball, but he only played with words. I realized the command was very complicated from inside the house, saying that Bull won’t cheat, attack me, and he would put the ball in my hand.

From the behavior and style of play, I suspected Bull wanted to play more and more with me. I am also curious. While Bull crouched, I put my hand in front of his mouth to receive the ball, just like his Boss who received the ball from Bull’s mouth directly. But I couldn’t manage it.

“Harder! Harder! take the ball from his mouth. he is excited, it will be okay”. With easy words Boss screaming from inside his house. This time, if I got the ball from Bull’s mouth with a harder power, it’s crazy, it’s also scary if Bull would let go of the ball and instead bite my hand. Why should I fight for the ball with the famous fierce and stubborn dog?

It was common sense. It’s my turn to slack off as if I want to go. That’s right, Bull released the ball and put it on the grass. Okay, let’s play again. I took the ball, threw it, and Bull ran fast to pick it up. I repeated several times to the four corners.

We just needed more time when sharing the ball. Bull crouched with the ball in his mouth a meter in front of me and looked at each other. I was forced to go forward to take the ball, he kept the ball tightly in his mouth. I showed him that I didn’t want to play ball with him, as if I wanted to go away. Bull released the ball on the grass, I took the ball and threw it etc. etc.

When we were together quietly, I knelt and Bull crouched with his nose closest to the ball, I touched his hair behind his cheek with two hands and I shaked it a bit hard. Good pig… uh… dog. Bull remained indifferent and didn’t care, he was just excited playing with the ball, even though I picked and threw the ball for him.

The peace and friendship were lit. “Chain may be released” my friend said then, so that the ball was thrown further away, and Bull was getting more excited. Instead, I tried to cheat as if the ball was thrown far but not, in different directions. Bull felt foolish several times, and never got angry. So, even though I felt free to do so, I worried too if it offended his true instinct as a reliable attacker and ferocious dog.

I was tired, Bull was like a diesel engine, getting hotter just becoming more agile. Okay stop, I was slowly going out of the arena. Bull’s gaze followed me, somehow, I didn’t look at his eyes. Instead, I glanced at the Boss in the house, asking for help if necessary.

How could it be that my human feeling wasn’t in purity to a new friend? I stopped playing ball with Bull and was afraid of being attacked. Later I was sure that Bull wouldn’t attack me.

Until the game ended, what I didn’t make it was to receive the ball pass directly from his mouth to my hand. Boss got it, I didn’t.

I don’t know when I can play with the Bull again there. I received the latest news that Bull had a malignant tumor in one of his testicles that had been castrated. The verdict doctor is waiting to die or is put to death by injection. So the last score doesn’t matter.

-Bintoro Gunadi

The very first berry can be found in nature in British Columbia is salmonberry followed by raspberry, thimbleberry and then blackberry. Salmonberry is endemic to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Washington, parts of Idaho, Oregon, and parts of California). Surprisingly, it can also be found in East Asia (Japan).

Incidentally, the salmonberry plants can abundantly be found along the Pacific Ring of Fire with the fertile volcanic soil from the Cascades mountains from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and the northern part of California supported by the awesome climate of the Pacific Northwest.

The scientific name of salmonberry is Rubus spectabilis, the member of the rose family with about 88 genera and 3,000 species. Salmonberry more specifically belongs to the genus Rubus in North America, which is simplified to only 37 species. It is a spectacular berry with a beautiful shape and color, supported by natural unforgettable taste.

In the wild, salmonberry fruits are typically eaten by birds, small mammals, bears, and humans, while the leaves, twigs, stems are grazed on by deer, elks, and rabbits. Salmonberry stems are not with thorns, so it makes the harvest enjoyable. The dense and thicket growth of the plants can provide escape for small animals, as well as nesting sites for birds.

Salmonberry plants love rich nitrogen, nutrient-dense soil found in the coastal areas. They easily can be transplanted and cultivated. Apply a thick layer of compost, typically 15-20 cm or worm castings or vermicompost just 1.5-2 cm to grow the salmonberry plants. The plants prefer plenty of moisture. The salmonberries ripen mostly in late Spring until early Summer (June – July).

Salmonberry is a shrub ranging in height up to 4 meters. The plant has pink to magenta flowers with 5 delicate petals in a circle. The flowering heads are representative of rose family (bisexual, perfect flower) with 75 – 100 stamens (male part) and many individual pistils (female part) with superior ovaries in one flower. Salmonberry flowers require cross pollination by insects and hummingbirds.

Salmonberry fruit is not a true berry (one fruit one berry), instead it is an aggregate fruit made of many smaller fruits or drupelets. The salmonberry fruits exhibit polymorphism, as berries are often either yellow, orange, or red with similar physical qualities and tastes. The red berries are more commonly consumed by birds.

I like most of the yellow salmonberries because I expect a rather sour taste, surprisingly getting just right sweet and bold tastes. The taste of the salmonberry seeds reminds of the taste of IPA (Indian Pale Ale) beer. Cheers! It is nice to share the first berries of the year with birds and other friends in nature. Some people, especially children, don’t really like salmonberries due to the less sweet taste and high fibre of the seeds. That is how the first lesson of the healthy diet and out of comfort zone come from.

Eat the salmonberries slowly, enjoy the low fructose for diet and the bold taste of the berries, especially the healthy bitter taste of their chewable seeds. First Nations people eat them with dried meat, smoked salmon, and salmon roe. There is speculation how the berry got its name, maybe because of their resemblance shape and color to salmon roe.

As many other endemic berries, salmonberry has several benefits. Salmonberries are said to have the highest manganese content and rich in vitamin A, C, E, K. Manganese helps in many body functions like regulating blood sugar, maintaining metabolism, also helps increasing digestion and reducing inflammation or pain.

According to the report of Kellogg Lab Penn State University, salmonberry producing plants that thrive under inhospitable conditions, such as the cold and wind of Alaska, might have more phytochemicals than the berry grown under gentler growing conditions. This is because the plants, in order to adapt and thrive, produce protective secondary phytochemicals. These chemicals not only help the plant to survive extreme weather but can also have health benefits to the animals, including humans, who go on to consume them.

Permission is needed to reproduce the photo.

-Bintoro Gunadi

I am not color blind, too picky, nor a fanatic in a single color but for the first time I saw these rose flowers, it’s difficult for me to describe the name of this kind of color and search for their name. Surprisingly, among the young generation, especially children, it is easy to describe and call this color as peach color.

Peach is a color that is named from the pale color of the interior flesh of the peach and apricot fruits. This name may also be substituted for “peachy” color and has been formulated primarily to create a pastel palette of colors for interior design. The symbolic meaning of peach color represents immortality, happiness, sensuality, and prosperity.

Actually, peach color in nature appeared much older before the first peach plant found by humans. The peach color first can be found in peach-colored mushrooms, especially in agaric mushrooms, whether it’s poisonous in Amanita (“fly agaric”) or edible in Chanterelle (“girolle”) and Laetiporus (“chicken of the woods”); even they have the smell like a peach.

The Etymology of the color peach and the fruit, the word comes from the Middle English peche, derived from Middle French, in turn derived from Latin persica with the meaning the fruit from Persia. The flowering peach-colored plants can be found in hybrid roses but never in wild roses which mostly have 3 colors white, red, and pink.

The hybrid rose is also called hybrid tea rose as an informal horticultural classification for a group of garden roses. This rose plant with peach-colored flowers is from Rosa hybrida cultivar Peach Avalanche. It’s elegant, each flower can be with up to 25 petals, and has a fresh sweet fragrance.

The similar peach color rose with the license price of about $5 million to cultivate the plant is named Juliet roses. Juliet rose or Ausleap (from outleap, a surge of feeling, activity, or growth) is created by the renowned rose breeder David Austin of the United Kingdom. He developed this hybrid over a fifteen-year period. The result is disease resistant rose plant with abundant medium-sized, double, shallow-cupped flowers with up to 90 petals, and sweet, delicious peachy-citrus scent.

I am wondering if nature needs those hybrid roses or even if it has a force to create them through natural selection. These relatively new creatures Ausleap roses evolve together with humans in urban areas for the middle-class people. Humans are about to abandon natural selection, the process that develops us, and replace it with volitional selection, to direct our own choices and willingness.

The future of the rose hybrids can be tough as they always depend on humans to cultivate them. They will be tested by nature for the long period ahead. The application of natural organic fertilizers such as solid worm castings and liquid worm castings tea speed up the asexual and sexual reproduction of hybrid roses.

It is interesting. The new hybrid rose from the relatively young action of the volitional evolution to benefit from the natural way of farming. The benefits come from using the product and by-product of the long evolutionary processes of the earthworms (particularly compost worms). The trials can be seen at the slide show on Portfolio and Products in our website https://www.burnabyredwigglers.com/

-Bintoro Gunadi

Not many people know about Secwepemc words, but most people understand the meaning of these messages through feeling, common sense, and drawing. Nature gives us everything for free, and we should take care of Her.

The Tk‘emlúpsemc, ‘the people of the confluence’, now known as the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc are members of the Interior-Salish Secwepemc (Shuswap) speaking peoples of British Columbia.

The Shuswap or Secwepemc (pronounced suh-wep-muhc) people occupy a vast territory of the interior of British Columbia. This traditional territory stretches from the Columbia River valley along the Rocky Mountains, west to the Fraser River, and south to the Arrow Lakes. Most Secwepemc people live in the river valleys.

According to Janice Billy (2015), Secwepemc has a long tradition of storytelling. Traditional stories, or stsptekwle, include the history, landforms, and cultural practices and beliefs of the Secwepemc and share valuable teachings with younger generations. All Secwepemc stories have a close relation with mother nature and positive or good spirits.

The Secwepemc believe that when the world was just beginning it was not a very good place for people to live, there were floods, fires, and great winds; therefore, the Old One (Tqelt Kukwpi7) sent Coyote (Sek’lep) to come to earth and help to set things right.

Kukwpi7 is what Chiefs were called in Secwepemc. The Kukwpi7s role is to work for the people and ensure that the lands and resources were protected for future generations. They did not stand above the people but walked side by side with them.

What does nature give us for free?

Everything humans have needed to survive, and thrive, was provided by the natural world around us: food, water, medicine, materials for shelter, and even natural cycles such as climate and nutrients from soil. In accordance with the Gaia Hypothesis, taking care of mother nature continuously can be done by feeding the earth through composting and vermicomposting activities using leftover organic waste around us together with the soil creatures such as earthworms and beneficial soil microbes.

It’s a great pleasure for me and our team at Burnaby Red Wigglers to supply over 25 thousand hard worker employees of the red wigglers (compost worms), also worm cocoons (compound eggs) and worm castings (vermicompost) for the education and gardening at the Neskonlith Education Center, Chase, British Columbia this late Spring, which is in coincidence with the Earth Day 2022.

I have just received good news from them that their red wigglers are doing great. All the best. Kukwstsétsemc (thank you).

-Bintoro Gunadi-

The Cascade Range or Cascades are a mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to northern California. There are 18 major mountains along the Cascades: with the total 4375 names of the mountains. The highest peak in the range is Mount Rainier in Washington at 14,411 feet (4,392 m) above sea level.

It was a great pleasure for me to see from above the ice caps near Vancouver area at the southern part of British Columbia, along with the fertile volcanic soil and running fresh water this Summer. It is called the Cascadian bioregion. A bioregion is defined in terms of the unique overall pattern of natural characteristics to support living creatures that are found in a specific place.

What does it mean? The ice caps will continue to supply one of the clearest and cleanest drinking waters around the globe. The volcanic soil will continue to produce the most fertile soil that supports all plants and animals to grow and reproduce. The mountains will continue to create breezy and cooler air naturally.

Can you imagine, near the Cascadian bioregion, in the ocean, there is a tectonic plate called the Pacific plate that can wipe off anything and everything in the water and on the land? The Pacific plate is the largest Oceanic tectonic plate under the Pacific Ocean with the size of 103,300,000 square kilometers.

Along with the Pacific plates in the ocean, the Cascades volcanoes are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes and associated mountains around the Pacific Ocean. The Cascade Volcanoes have erupted several times in recorded history. Two most recent were Lessen Peak in 1914 to 1921 and a major eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. It is also the site of Canada’s most recent major eruption about 2,350 years ago at the Mount Meager massif.

As the climate of the Pacific Northwest regions is awesome, the human population is increasing. I hope human disturbance together with global warming are under control; not to trigger the disasters especially during the end of this pandemic. Let us protect and keep them well the soil fertility and productivity, clear and clean water, and air.

The first photo by Young Susanti was taken beside the author above British Columbia, Canada this week. The second map by NASA World Wind.    

-Bintoro Gunadi

One of my close friends, my mentor Cornelius Blomberg (Cees) passed away peacefully a few years ago. He once said that he must have been dead 70 years ago as a teenager in a Japanese prison camp in Semarang, Central Java during World War II. While in Japanese internment, he saw many Dutch friends, family and soldiers starving, falling ill, and dying. Several prisoners remained healthy and survived because they dared to eat tempeh, almost every day.

For those of you who have studied at the exact science faculties (biology, agriculture, science and mathematics, electrical engineering) at the Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga Indonesia, you may have heard some of his guest lectures on issues of global pollution and environmental chemistry in the nineties. He was professor of organic chemistry at the University of Botswana and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Cees RIP at 90 years old.

Tempeh is a traditional food made from fermented soybeans. Tempeh was once underestimated even though it is popular and becomes a healthy food in foreign countries. It is a popular vegetarian meat replacement. Unlike other soybean-based foods, such as soy sauce, soybean paste, tofu from China or natto and miso from Japan or meju from Korea, tempeh or soybean cake is originally from Indonesia, especially from Java.

When I was kid, I almost misunderstood when I heard Bung Karno, the first president of Indonesia in his speech said: “…don’t be a soft nation like tempeh…”. Soft tempeh will not last long because the fermentation process continues, it becomes easy to rot (with black spores, semangit in Javanese), and the nutrition is decreased.

The preferred tempeh is the one that its fermentation process is stopped at the right time. When the soybean seeds have been boiled, the texture is still clearly glued and covered by the white mat fungus Rhizopus oligosporus, for a moment it has not yet produced dark colored spores. Harvested when the aroma is appetizing and accompanied by consistent nutrition facts.

For someone who eats tempeh for the first time, they will prefer tempeh that is dry, has a clear shape and texture. So, there is no impression that the food is the result of a fermentation or decomposition process which is the initial stage of the decay process.

For people who like healthy fermented foods, all fermented products that are controlled, clean, and are not contaminated, either those that produce alcohol or organic acids or both, and single cell protein like tempeh, in sufficient quantities will definitely benefit the body.

This is because fermented products such as tempeh are modern human innovations that were not previously experienced by early humans, so that their nutritional content is different from foods that can be eaten directly and are good for supplementing health in this pandemic.

The benefits of tempeh started as a source of highly nutritious protein originating from single cells (microbes), as a probiotic to help the digestive system, antioxidants, strengthen bones, lower cholesterol, and to supply the hormone estrogen which have been widely reported scientifically.

Some time ago, I was worried when I heard that the price of soybeans in Indonesia was almost the same, or even higher than the price of soybeans abroad and many were imported from the United States. Hopefully there will be no tempeh recession because tempeh has been helping many people to be healthy.

Tempeh, along with other fermented soy products, are generally considered safe for most people. However, some individuals may want to consider limiting their intake of tempeh. Those with a soy allergy should avoid tempeh altogether, because tempeh may trigger an allergic response.

Information about the photos: our raw or fresh tempeh and stir fry tempeh with green beans, and the nutrition facts of tempeh according to the FoodData Central USDA.

-Bintoro Gunadi

The education for youths, especially regarding the environment, is increasingly important to think about together to solve the environmental problems at this new normal. Many references state that in the past, our grandparents, our ancestors, cared more about the environment. Maybe that’s true, even though the conditions in the past were much different from now. This is mainly because the human population was not too dense, the peoples were not so consumptive, pollution and environmental damage were not as bad as now, and global warming had not been felt at that time.

One of the big problems in today’s environment is that there is too much waste all around us. In fact, if we, as well as the younger generation, care about this problem, a solution will be found from the beginning. Especially for organic waste from our kitchen as well as paper waste from our table. We can solve the problem with 3Rs + 1 more R: reduce, reuse, recycle, plus renew it with composting – vermicomposting in situ or on site.

Compared to conventional composting with high temperature (thermophilic), vermicomposting is an aerobic process at a cool room temperature (mesophilic). The advantage of vermicomposting is that organic waste can be broken down faster by red wigglers or compost worms with less pollution. The finished product of worm castings or vermicompost is much better in quality because the thermophilic composting will destroy the nutrients and beneficial soil microbe’s activities.

The process of vermicomposting or composting using compost worms or red wigglers with their friends the beneficial soil microbes (all called decomposers) is simple. The kitchen waste mostly consists of the green and brown waste. The green waste which is rich in nitrogen and nutrients can be used to feed the worms. The brown waste or any paper waste as a carbon source will absorb the excess water. Both will be turned into vermicompost or worm castings that are useful for all plants, especially for creating living soil to support the organic farming or the natural way of farming.

Educating the younger generation to care more about the environment is the key to getting a better environment. After they are aware of environmental problems, for example regarding our kitchen waste and paper waste, then the next step is to provide examples of technical problem solving that are easy to apply, fun, and supported by science so that they can develop.

This is expected to form a critical, caring, responsible attitude from the new generation. One of the fun environmental care activities is vermiculture, raising compost worms and soil microorganisms that are useful for processing kitchen waste and paper. This activity has been around for a long time and naturally occurs in nature.

Worm composting is getting more popular because the red wigglers and their microbes friends increase the speed of composting in cool room temperature, produce high value of vermicompost for plants and worm biomass or protein for animal feed and fishing.

Household vermiculture – vermicomposting is a simple closed system and can be easily started by following 3 steps.

1.Making or getting a worm bin

One or two containers in the stalk can be used. The container should be at least with a surface area of 2 X 1 feet and about one feet or 30 cm depth with some holes at the bottom, side, and lid. At start, about one square foot surface area is needed for about a pound of kitchen waste per week.

2.Preparing the bedding

Moist bedding can be made of mature compost, which is rich in organic matter, plus shredded paper, untreated sawdust, leaf mold, peat moss, coco coir or other rich carbon resources waste. Ideally if we squeeze a handful of moist bedding, we should only be able to squeeze a few drops of water. It means the moisture content of the bedding is about 75 – 80% with a cool room temperature 15 – 25°C.

3.Adding the red wigglers

Red wigglers Eisenia andrei or Eisenia fetida are the most common compost worms to be used for vermiculture – vermicomposting. To determine the number of worms needed to populate the bin, provide two handfuls of worms or about ~500 worms or about a pound including their former home worm castings. The feeding is about once a week, it depends on how fast the worms adapt with the new environment.

The photo is courtesy of Megan Sutherland, Wix-Brown Elementary, Langley, British Columbia. One of her students during the worm composting class said: “I don’t like worms, but this is epic!”

-Bintoro Gunadi

The Japanese tradition of bonsai does not include indoor bonsai, most of them have been grown outdoors for their entire life. Traditionally, bonsai are temperate climate trees grown outdoors in containers. Kept in the artificial environment of a home, these trees weaken and die.

In less traditional settings, including climates more severe than Japan’s, indoor bonsai may appear in the form of potted trees cultivated for the controlled indoor environment. Numbers of tropical and subtropical tree species will survive and grow slowly indoors with a special care in the small containers.

Both indoor and outdoor bonsai mostly grow in loose soil with a fast-draining mix of components. The art of creating bonsai is to produce small trees that mimic the shape of real-life trees. Basically, people torture the plant to be bonsai dwarf tree by controlling the supply of their nutrients, adjusting the branches, and clipping the leaves.

I am wondering if the origin of bonsai copied the growth of the dwarf trees on the dead woods or rocks in nature with very limited supply of nutrients. So, in combination with just enough supply of water and harsh weather, nature creates the long-life dwarf tree out of its comfort zone with an artistic and old performance as shown in the photo.

The oldest tree in the world is a species of Methuselah pine tree (Pinus longaeva) that can live for 5 thousand years even though it grows in the highlands, on very barren soil. The plant fasts until it rains, is sturdy, can withstand the wind, and there is always a dead and alive part on the tree.

Natural or organic fertilizers should be better to be used for the bonsai than artificial or chemical fertilizers. One of the alternatives is using black gold, worm castings or vermicompost to support the healthy bonsai. The advantages of the vermicompost are not because it contains high amounts of macronutrients (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S) and micronutrients (Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Mo, B, Cl, Ni) like artificial or chemical fertilizers, but on its unique properties.

Worm castings contain available and slow-release nutrients, humic substances or humates as important components of organic matter, plant growth regulators, and beneficial soil microbes that can suppress the plant pathogens. In addition, worm castings diluted in the water or worm castings teas can be more efficient and effective to support the healthy growth of the old bonsai with strong rooting systems that can live for more than a thousand years.

Please contact http://www.burnabyredwigglers.com if anyone needs fresh organic worm castings or vermicompost for boosting your bonsai and other exotic plants.

-Bintoro Gunadi 

It is said that the famous Tieguanyin oolong tea, the leaves are picked by monkeys and then given to the humans who care for them. The best green tea is from the plant Camellia sinensis var. sinensis which tastes fresh, comes from China and Japan. Meanwhile, the best black tea is from the Camellia sinensis var. assamica, which tastes bitter because of the high tannin content and becomes firm when a little burnt, comes from the highlands of Assam in India and Java in Indonesia.

One of the most famous tea leaves in the world, its name Da Hong Pao is picked from the oldest tea plant which is more than 300 years old grown in the Wuji Mountains of Fujian. That tea plant grows on the sidelines of barren rocks, like a bonsai that can withstand natural selection. The processing technique of this oolong tea dated back to the Ming Dynasty.

In Yunnan South China, the assamica variety tea shoots are made of Pu Erh tea which is fermented twice as much, taking up to hundreds of years to process. It tastes like earth and is dark reddish in color. The Yunnan area is historically the origin of the first immigrants to the Malay Archipelago or maritime Southeast Asia.

In Indonesia, generally, the tea plant of the assamica variety is the most delicious to make black tea and drink it with rock sugar. This creation is proven to increase the consumption and production of black tea. This contrasts with the tradition of Yunnan. Its natural bitter tea flavor was introduced by the famous physician Hua Tuo in the story of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi Yanyi). “The bitter taste of tea forms a good and healthy mentality.”

Learning from nature and apes, white tea is picked from the youngest tea leaves. The white tea can be made of ​​any tea variety chinensis or assamica. The most important thing is that the young leaf is not yet open and thin like a needle, still fluffy, and has a smooth white color. So, the production of white tea is very limited. One the most expensive of the white teas is Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) which is produced in Fujian province in China.

White tea leaves are soft, naturally sweet, and have a distinct aroma from green, oolong, black or red teas. The antioxidant content is the highest among the other types of teas. Brewing it using water before boiling, the color of the brew is clear. Sipping it lightly so you can feel its distinctive aroma and taste. Its soft pulp is still edible and healthy.

Recently I specially brewed three kinds of white tea from three plantations in West Java: Mount Satria, Sambawa, and Cukul. I visited those plantations at the end of the last millennium, where I touched the leaves and fertilized the roots with the “black gold” vermicompost or worm castings. The white tea collections on the photo were given by my dear brother who is involved in the management and development of the tea plantations.

The tea plantations showed promise after the application of the worm castings in combination with reducing the artificial (inorganic, synthetic or chemical) fertilizers. It is because the tea plants produced healthier leaves (bright green color) and tended to increase the production of the new tea leaves.

Hopefully, drinking white tea regularly can nourish the body and the mind remains clear, shiny metallic like millennium color, while still in the hard time or new normal in this pandemic. Cheers!

-Bintoro Gunadi