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March part 2

Things are progressing nicely, out of 147 cutting tubers planted all but three are actively growing with only a handful not yet having broken the surface of the compost. The adult tubers are a bit slower, albeit that some were pipped before planting, but all are throwing up basal shoots and will need to be potted on in the next few days (not a lot of top growth but they now have a root system ready to be moved into a soil based compost). At this time of the year I am happy to encourage the plant to grow root rather than top growth.
This is always an interesting time of the year for me as a lot is happening but can easily go unseen. For those of you that started your tubers in plastic pots, I am sure by now you will see signs that some of the pots are starting to become distorted as the tuber within increases in size.  You may also find that your plants have two different periods of growth. During a period of approximately 4 - 6 days they will predominantly produce top growth and less bottom growth (root) and the following 4 - 6 days that order will be reversed. On occasion a grower will comment on how their plants have just sat still during a particular period but, unknown to them they have in fact put their energy into producing root (obviously the top growth is the one that is more apparent). Watering at this time can be an issue and the plants should be checked on a daily basis and watered if required.
I have now started to mix my soil based compost in readiness for second potting and had a play about with a number of 1 litre pots multi tubers in larger pots. Just as I thought the maximum that will go into a 7.5 litre pot is three and even that is at a push.
Thanks to Phil Champion I acquired two plants which I will grow on as pot plants. These were started a few weeks earlier than mine and being more advanced I should be able to use them as “control specimens”.  Both have their basal shoots forward facing, one with two basal shoots and the other three (two at the rear and one at the front). At this juncture I should also say that the one with three basal shoots is a cutting tuber.  In addition, I will identify a number of my own adult/cutting tubers which I will also grow as pot plants.
Let us look at the plant with three basal shoots in more detail. If I were to stop (remove the growing point) the front basal shoot above the second or third leaf how would the plant react? If it was a plant with a single basal shoot then by stopping it, we would force the plant to divert all of its energy into the production of side shoots.  Would that still be the case with a plant that has two additional basal shoots or would it purely concentrate the majority of its efforts on growing the remaining two basal shoots. By doing this it would ultimately lead to flower production by the quickest route (its goal). If by stopping the front basal shoot I am successful in my attempt to cause the plant to produce side shoots on that basal earlier than normal then all going well, it should go on to produce side shoots on those side shoots. When flowering it may produce a plant which could carry its blooms in a tiered effect using the produce of the front basal shoot as the lower tier of flowers and the produce of the two rear basal shoots forming the upper tier of flowers.  I can hear the response already “Definitely No”.
If the plant does not play ball then I will have to activate plan B.
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 Description of Photographs:

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and 2.  General views of the cutting tubers.
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.   Closeup of one of the cutting tubers.
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and 5. General views of the adult tubers.
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.  Closeup showing a distorted pot caused by an adult tuber as it grows.
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.  Cutting tuber to be grown as a pot plant (three forward facing basal shoots).
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.  Adult tuber to be grown as a pot plant (two forward facing basal shoots).
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.  7.5 litre pot housing three 1 litre pots (top lips had to be removed in order to get them in) 

Something nonstandard that you may find interesting
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.  Ronnie Welsh holding parliament within the Kingdom of Fife.
        I am sure that all who know him will agree with me when I say that he is both nonstandard and most certainly interesting. He is one of the few “old style” growers in Scotland who will embrace change or at the very least give it a go. A living legend.
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Cultural Diaries and previous articles 

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