Most of my articles have had very limited exposure, being published in hobby journals and
newsletters. I have attempted to reproduce many of them here.

25. Krulik, Jerry, “Bromeliadism—Philosophy, Religion, or Disease?”, PUP TALK
(Saddleback Valley Bromeliad Society), 12(1), p.5, January 2005.

This was reprinted in Journal of the Bromeliad Society, 55(1), 9-10, January-
February 2005.

By Jerry Krulik

How many times have you said, to yourself, or out loud, god, I have to have that
plant! And then as soon as it is in your hot little hands, you next say, god, where
can I put it? Most growers go through a fairly short initiation period, whereby
they collect almost any Bromeliad, because their growing space is open. Sooner
or later, depending more on the size of their property than pocketbook, they
have to begin to exercise some, or lots, of restraint because they are running
out of room. Many learned people have studied this phenomenon, and as usual
there are no universally accepted answers. There are three main theories of
behavior which are promulgated as being able to best explain why any normal
rational human being would submerge themselves in a world of dank rotting
leaves, musty smelly bromeliad tank water, mosquito clouds, blood dripping from
lacerated skin due to trying to separate woody cuttings of barbed leaved plants,
obsessive watering, weeding, potting, and plant placement, and so on, instead
of enjoying the sunshine, talking walks on the beach, or doing anything else
which does not require daily dedication for the rest of  your life.

There is the Philosophical argument. Perhaps we grow these plants because we
believe in them, that they purify the air and gladden the heart, soothe the eye,
calm the spirit, enlighten the mind, as any great Philosophical work will do? That
our justification to Philosophical Bromeliadism is a dedication to the world of life
and of the collectivity of humanity, for if we did not spend every minute
propagating and growing them, they could disappear from this earth (or worse,
from our own collections)?

Or do we embark on a religiously moral crusade, to convert everyone to
Bromeliadism? Do we give and even thrust extra cuttings, like unwanted kittens,
into the arms of reluctant strangers and relatives, hoping to convert them to the
Religion of Bromeliadism? Perhaps we corner poor deluded strangers at parties,
who innocently ask, “Do you have a hobby?” We follow them around as they try
to break free, as we expound the virtues of Bromeliadism over Orchidism,
Cactusology, Succulentism, Fernophenzy, Bulbocoddling, Rosemania, and other
such related heresies and wrongful actions. And woe betide the fallen believer,
who may convert to some totally alien religious movement like stamp collecting,
or fish farming in their house!  

Perhaps, and this is only a theory of course, Bromeliadism is a mental disease,
like kleptomania, or spousal swapping. Of course many people hide it under a
cloak of respectability, by referring to it by the old catchall phrase, Collecting, as
if this made it normal. But is anyone normal who has 15 color varieties of one
kind of plant, but drools and has to wipe his/her chin when she/he sees another
one with just a hint of red spots where the other plants have yellow wrinkles?
Does this sound like a normal person to you? Obsession is often a characteristic
of sanitarium occupants.  

I, of course, have the capacity to stand aside and objectively view my fellow
Bromeliadists in a rational manner. Whatever behavioral theory may apply to
them has no real correspondence to my world. I am a believer in the highest
form of Bromeliadism, in my opinion, being a loyal Tillandsiaist. After all,
Tillandsias are some of the most rarefied types of Bromeliads, since so many can
only be grown in a soil-less condition. This obviates the need for useless
circular philosophical questions, like what soil is best or what pot shows them
off better, since you can just nail them to a wall or hang them from a patio roof.
Tillandsias are the purest kind of plant, swinging in the pure air and sunlight like
God’s angels. Surely church steeples should be cloaked by a living carpet of
flowering and growing Tillandsias. And any suspicion that Tillandsia collecting is
a disease is easily disproven as there are only 600 or maybe 800 named species
to collect, and perhaps a few hundred more varieties, and a couple of thousand
forms and colors and hybrids, so obsessive collecting is not a real problem, in
my humble opinion.

Whatever your specific avocation, as long as you are true to the precepts of
Bromeliadism, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2005 TO ALL!

24. Krulik, Jerry, “Digital Photography for the Plant Person”, PUP TALK
(Saddleback Valley Bromeliad Society), 10(12), p.4-5, December 2003.

Digital Photography for the Plant Person
by Jerry Krulik

I try not to bore people with all my hobbies, but one of them is definitely worth
considering—digital photography. In the old days, you just had to buy a simple
camera, 35 mm preferably, and take shots of your best plants. Eventually the roll
was finished, and you would send it to the store. If you were like me, every so
often one of the prints would actually be of high enough quality that I would
show it to people. This made the cost per quality picture quite high, as it usually
was $15-20 per roll for the film, developing, and printing. The cost of the camera
could range from the very low, disposable type, to the sky is the limit. But a good
camera could outlive the owner.

A few years ago I made the switch to digital. I don’t always carry my camera now,
but it is rare that I go to any place of possible photographic significance without
it. With a digital camera, you can see exactly what you did with your photo, in real
time. This has allowed me to suddenly begin learning how to be a good
photographer because I now have instant feedback on all my mistakes. Four
years ago, my first Olympus D-490 Zoom camera with accessories cost about
$700. I started out by deleting at least 2/3rds of all the photos taken due to
quality problems from my lack of skill. Now my skill has increased so that typically
I keep better than 2/3rds of the photos, and a good percentage of those are
actually high enough quality for publication.

I estimate that I have shot over 50,000 (!) shots with this camera. This allows me
to rationalize that it is a very cheap hobby. Why the pictures only cost about 1.5
cents each when amortized over the cost of the camera. Just don’t think about
counting the batteries that it eats, or the new computer that I had to buy to hold
all the photos, the computer programs I needed to manipulate the photos, and
the time I put into sorting, naming, cropping, sharpening, and changing the
brightness, saturation, tint, and so on, of each photo.

But let’s not dwell on my madness or blind spots. There are very legitimate
reasons for going digital. I break them down into 4 categories.

1.        Reference. I have gotten into the habit of taking a photo of just about
every plant as soon as I get it, or at least pot it up. Often I take two photos, one
showing the plant with its nametag. Surprisingly, sometimes I actually misplace a
nametag or two, and this is a way to find out what the plant is and eliminate lots
of those nameless orphans. It also gives you a way to see how fast your plants
really grow.

Another good reference idea is to take photos of the plants when they flower.
This might be obvious, but remember that one advantage of digital photography
is that each photo is automatically numbered and the photo date saved. So when
I rename each photo, I put the plant name and date as part of the photo name.
Now I have a permanent record of exactly when such-and-such a plant flowered
each year. No more boxes of unlabeled, undated photos with digital cameras.
This assumes, of course, that you keep the photos in named files and/or name
each photo regularly.

2.        Bragging. This is probably obvious, but remember that we can brag much
faster and more widely in the digital camera age, than in the old film print age.
How many copies of a great flower picture did you ever spend the money to
make back then, and how widely was it shown around or mailed off? Now with
the speed of the Internet, you can whiz off unlimited free copies of your best
photos to your friends, relatives, acquaintances, strangers, public web sites,
whatever, just as fast as your fingers can hit the keys.

3.        Regrets. These are the ones you loved and lost. You may want to keep a
separate file of ones that you have a problem growing. This could save you a
significant amount of money by not purchasing, for the 4th time, a plant that you
will probably kill again. Just a bit of warning though, that this is a possible venue
for spousal abuse. Now there is photographic documentation, so when the
spouse says, “You killed that plant before, and before, and …I told you so!” you
cannot easily get off the hook if you buy it again.

4.        Maintenance. This is an often-overlooked part of digital plant
photography. In my (getting towards the elderly condition) opinion, this may be
one of the most important functions of photography. Whenever I go out in the
yard, I rarely accomplish what I set out to do. There are over 1000 kinds of plants
there, many in multiples; I always seem to get sidetracked. There is never
enough time to examine everything adequately. And have I mentioned bifocals?
It is not easy to crawl around on my knees, examining every little bit of
protoplasm through the lower window of my glasses.
So what does photography have to do with plant maintenance? Plenty! I look at
every photo as I rename it. I change the color balance, sharpness, brightness,
any number of things. Even when I discard the photo, I look at the plant. You can
see a whole lot more on a 19 inch computer screen, when the one inch plant or
flower is magnified in the center, then you can when dimly peering at its fuzzy
outline from a distance through angled bifocals. And the things I see! Tiny little
bugs everywhere—scale infestations, mealy bug, spine mealies, aphids,
grasshopper damage, slug slime trails, ants in half of the flower photos, bees,
flies, and so on. Do you know that the most common bugs in your yard, except
maybe for ants and springtails, are the tiny, tiny little bugs called thrips that live
in flowers? Just take high magnification shots of flowers, and you are bound to
see them. (Remember this next time you sniff a flower.) So now after a long
session on my computer fixing photos, I head back to the yard to apply the
appropriate remedies for what I now can see. Then there are fungus
infestations, dead and sunburned leaves, mushrooms in the pots, weeds, trash,
and more weed seedlings. There are any number of ways to mess up an
otherwise good photo.
I am continually finding new things about plant maintenance. I can now see tiny
little cactus seedlings in pots, so the little buggers have a possible chance to
grow up if I don’t disturb them. And volunteer seedlings show up in the most
unexpected places, but are easy to notice in photos. So be wary of re-using
someone else’s potting mix when you get plants. You may get some new or extra
desirable plants, but more often you get a new crop of some weed you thought
you finally extirpated.

So run right out there and buy a digital camera. Even if your computer skills are
nil, you can still just take the full memory chip into Walmart and have them
automatically fix up the photos and print them out for you. At least you save the
cost of the film.

Now you have to excuse me. My old digital is becoming, like me, a bit slow and
cranky. So I have invested in a new model, an Olympus C-750 Ultra Zoom with
more megapixels than I can count. And if I take enough pictures fast enough,
why, I should get the cost of each photo down low enough to actually justify the
cost of this new camera.

23. Krulik, Jerry, “Why I Grow Tillandsias”, PUP TALK (Saddleback Valley
Bromeliad Society), 10(11), p.3, November 2003.

Why I Grow Tillandsias
By Jerry Krulik

I grow these plants because I am bankrupt!

That’s right, bankrupt! Bankruptcy is the state of not having sufficient resources,
so that is, horticulturally, my state of being.

I don’t have any more pot space. I am using shelves, and shelves over shelves,
and shelf holders, and pots on the cement, and hanging pots, and leaning pots,
and sagging pots, and overgrown pots. I can’t put any more pots anywhere,
especially on the ground.

Have I mentioned the ground in my yard? Every inch does at least double duty,
often triple or quadruple duty. Hard to do? Yes, but not quite impossible. I have
‘regular’ plants all over—cactus, succulents, cycads, orchids, trees, even a few
ground covers. I also like bulbs, and bulbs like me. So I grow a lot of different
kinds. What I like best about bulbs is that they mostly disappear for much of the
year, because they sleep underground. Some sleep for 6 to 9 months. So I can
plant a patch of ground with spring bulbs, summer bulbs, and fall/winter bulbs, if
I plan well enough or am just plain lucky—some would say lazy. They just thread
their way around all the other obstacles—I mean plants—in their way in order to
grow and flower.

This brings me back to Tillandsias. They are a bankrupt person’s dream. They
don’t need pots. They don’t need soil. They are happy with left over water, an
occasional spray or mist or rain storm. If a bird does his duty on them, they
thrive. And they flower profusely and multiply vigorously. Best of all, they don’t
need pots. They don’t need fancy soil mixes, or any kind of soil. They don’t like
growing on the ground. All I need is my leftover ball of twine that I had been
saving for just this opportunity.

So now I can use all that formerly wasted space—things like tree trunks and
branches. Fence posts. Fences. Dead logs. Patio covers (I found a jungle of
Tillandsia seedlings on top, when I pruned all the dead stems of my Passiflora
from the patio lattice work roof). Abandoned cars. Slower growing plants (If you
think I am kidding, look at my Plumeria which is disappearing beneath my T.
usenoides patch!). I can stick those little buggers almost anywhere, and some of
them will thrive. The whitest ones grow in full sun on iron fencing, and the
greener ones will grow in deep shade on foliage trees. Just wrap string around
one, and let it swing in the wind. Also makes good cat toys, if your cats are
vegetarian and think these are vegetable mice.

Thus far, the sides of the house are (mostly) off limits. The only reasons for this
are that I need to knock holes in the walls in order to attach the plants, and then
when I water them the water grows green slime trails down the side of the
house, then gets into the house and grows fungus and shorts out the electricity.
So if anyone out there has a self-sticking Tillandsia which grows without
watering, PLEASE let me know.

I am bankrupt.

22. Krulik, Jerry, Short piece on weird Mexican food. PUP TALK 2003. Can't find
the original. Will eventually try to summarize it.

21. Krulik, Jerry, “Meet the Members Jerry & Terry Krulik” ”, PUP TALK
(Saddleback Valley Bromeliad Society), 9(3), p.3, March 2003. One correction--I
moved from Chicago to California in 1985, not 1995.