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March part 1

Any tubers that have not started by now are simply discarded and form part of my “weeding out” process.  As both daylight hours and daytime temperatures increase the plants are starting to respond and it is during this initial period that the benefits of producing larger cutting tubers are realised. These are as follow:

No losses due to shrinkage during the dormant period
No requirement to start them up earlier than adult tubers, and finally
They tend to produce a larger number of basal shoots, the surplus of which can be used as cutting material.

Let us now look ahead and pre-plan what we need to do for the next two months.

Compost – growing on
I personally prefer to use a soil based compost which is reasonably free draining and that suits my type of management.  I have found that by simply replacing 3 litres of loam (I do not use loam with a high clay content) with three litres of peat when mixing by hand a bushel of John Innes compost that this fulfils my requirements.  All other ingredients remain the same, however, to this I add 6 oz of nutrimate.  At this point I should say that the peat I use is of a very course grade which helps to keep the mix open and aerated.

Feeding – already discussed
Have you missed something?  I started my tubers in a peat based multipurpose compost and prior to doing so I made the conscious decision that firstly I want my initial compost to be peat based (easier for the new root to penetrate) and secondly by choosing multipurpose I had decided the strength of fertiliser (feeding) that I want for the plant at this stage of its growth.  I will then move to a soil based compost (in my opinion it produces a far more robust plant) and again I considered feeding and have chosen to make a J.I. No2 mix (strength of fertiliser). Everything going well no additional feeding will be required during this period.

Growth stimulant
I do use maxicrop (original seaweed extract) as a foliar spray and find that it gives the plants added resistance to pests and diseases and I also feel that it assists in the production of an overall healthier plant.

Pot size
Now is the time to look ahead and decide what will be your 1st or in my case 2nd pot size. I always start from my final pot size and work back in order to see what sizes can be utilised (the coarseness of your compost will also play a pivotal role if using the existing pot as a mould). If you intend to move from peat to a soil based compost then this is also a good time to decide when this transition will take place e.g. if moving from a 1
˝ litre (1st ) pot into a final 3 litre ( 2nd) pot then it is obvious, however, if moving from a 1 litre pot and working towards a final 3 or 4 litre pot then you have a decision to make (a lot will be determined by the quality of root). If I am to grow two or for that matter three cutting tubers together as a single pot plant, I will have no option but to pot them directly into a 7˝ litre pot (an additional 4˝  or 5˝  litres of compost). It will be at this point that the transition between peat and soil must take place. I would also anticipate that all top growth will almost stop as the plants continue to produce bottom growth (root) as they settle into the new compost. It will be during this period that great care must be taken when watering as mistakes can easily lead to disaster. A little bottom heat during this period may be advisable.
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 Description of Photographs:

1, 2, 3 and 4. General views of both adult and cutting tubers.

Something nonstandard that you may find interesting
5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. The various stages that the stem of a leaf cutting goes through in order to reproduce (each example shows the creation of multiple plants).

 

Cultural Diaries and previous articles 

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