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CULTURAL DIARY   2018
John Hamilton
National Begonia Society Cut Bloom Champion  2008   2002
British Begonia Champion  2012  2009  2008  2004
SBS Pot Plant Champion 2012

Final part of Year

September sees the end of the flower shows and marks the beginning of preparation for the following year.  This year has been one of the most difficult years weather-wise I have experienced in growing begonias.  The extremes of temperature both in spring and summer were difficult to overcome and as a result I decided to give the greenhouse a revamp.  The two smaller greenhouses I had, were demolished and replaced with one larger one.  Hopefully the additional height and better ventilation will improve growing conditions next year.  This task took over three weeks to complete and I must remain in debt to Bob Robertson who designed the layout and provided his expertise in the construction.  The result once the central heating system is reconnected should hopefully provide ideal growing conditions next April.

I experimented a bit this year, but the result was that I proved to myself that my original method for growing pot plants still gave the best results. Two main shoots with all the side shoots allowed to  develop produced some excellent plants.  As far as varieties went the best were Vera Coates and Charlotte, closely followed by Katherine Hartley and Colin Hamilton.  A few plants were spoiled by colour run and this is something that will have to be worked on. I do not believe that begonia stock is to blame but rather a mistake in the growing. 

October saw the start of removing tubers from pots, I plan to start them at Christmas so going down early this year was a bonus.  Hopefully the additional growing time will allow me to exhibit at Shrewsbury next year.  Once they have been removed from the pots the next stage is to dry them off and remove the scar where last year’s growth emanated from. My greenhouse is too damp for this purpose, so they are brought into the house and dried over our oil boiler, the gentle heat seems to do the trick. After around two weeks the tubers can be brushed, and the scar removed. 

The process is completed by the end of November and the tubers are stored in the bedroom. Normally they are kept in an unheated one but this year I wanted them pipped for Christmas and the slightly warmer storage conditions have done so.

Cuttings are put straight back in to start up, I have only a small heated area that is used in January and February and the smaller tubers can be started in small seed trays before they dry up.

Overall the time spent on redesigning the greenhouse has led to poorer tubers, but hopefully next year should see better results.  I hope everyone has a successful wintering of their stock and look forward to seeing a few more entries at next years shows.  The aim of every grower should be to grow flowers to the best of their ability and encourage others to do so also.  Over the last 40 years I have met some great characters and would say that the greatest strength of the Society is the information it provides to the members.  The debt owed to Brian for his work on the web site is huge and I will close this year’s series of articles by thanking him for allowing me to contribute in my own small way to its continued success.                            

 

              
Greenhouse before and after

              
New greenhouse

                             
Tubers going down


Tuber brushed


Tuber ready to be cleaned

              
Being cleaned up


Scar removed


Scars removed


Tuber wrapped in kitchen roll


Tubers stored


Storage of tubers in bedroom


Tubers pipped, ready to plant


Cutting tubers back in

Many thanks to John for the excellent coverage of his growing experiences and achievements in 2018

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British Begonia Champion  12 Cut Blooms   2012

      
Scottish Championship 9 Pots    2012

John & Mairi Hamilton's  Greenhouses  2018

John's Open Days
2016          2014          2013

   

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