Monday, June 27, 2016

Bonsai Has a New Friend

You might remember that I've got a bonsai of sorts. I still have no idea what I'm doing, but it's been healthy and growing, so it's not a complete disaster. An actual bonsai enthusiast would surely be shaking their head at the (complete lack of) styling, and I know I've been doing lots of things wrong, but I'm happy with it anyway.

Coffee to the left, black pine to the right. I guess that's fairly obvious.

But now Bonsai has a new friend: Coffee! Yes, I now have a coffee plant. I've actually had it since February, when it was this tiny little thing with three small leaves, but I wanted to see if it would survive before I said anything. It seems to thrive, so I had nothing to worry about.

Here in Osaka I need to keep it indoors near a window in winter, and out on the balcony in summer. Either way it doesn't want direct sunlight; coffee is a bush, basically, living in the shadow of larger trees. It'll gradually grow to about 1.5 meters, and if all goes well it'll bloom with white flowers in about four years.

It can self-pollinate, so if you help it with that it will set clusters of berries in the fall. By the next spring the berries will turn red and ripen. Pick the berries, take the seeds in the center, dry the seeds, roast them, grind them and brew yourself a cup of homegrown coffee. On coffee plantations you cut down the plant after harvest and the cycle starts again, with a new harvest in another four years.

If, that is, everything goes well. Even if you manage to get coffee beans the exact growing conditions are very important for the taste, so you're unlikely to get a good cup of coffee or anything, but that's of course not the point. And even if you fail, it's still a pleasant houseplant with beautiful large, shiny dark-green leaves.