2016 Diary Episode 9 - Final potting & growing on.
Sunday 24th April
Busy day today as I potted 30 plants up into
their second pots and also potted up 25 rooted cuttings,
picture to the left.
Wednesday 27th April
If you cast your minds back to my Diary last year
I commented / moaned about how costly it had become to dose all my
plants with Provado Vine Weevil Killer and that in 2016 I would be
seriously looking at using “predators” to cut the cost down.
Well the other day I ordered some Nemasys Vine
Weevil Killer nematodes (pic to right) and today they
arrived. Following the instructions on the packet I split the
“nematodes” in half and mixed each half in 8 Litres of water and
gave them a really good stirring in, then watered all my plants with
The packet states that they will remain active
for 6 weeks, so every 5 weeks I will re-dose them. Hopefully they
will work as good as the chemical equivalent I have used over many
a year as I never had a problem using it.
I then when through all my adult plants taking
cuttings from any new basal shoots. I took a couple
of side shoots as cuttings, but mostly I rubbed these out as they were
Then I mixed some batches homemade Johns Innes
no2 ready for next wave of second pottings.
Friday 29th April
In the space of 24 hours we started the day with
2 inches of snow and this cleared by dinner time – then we had heavy
down pours of hail followed by rain, then we started the following day with
It’s just like the seasons have moved forward by
one, so winter is now spring etc.
Saturday 30th April
Just potted up a couple plants into their 2nd
Thursday 5th May
Both propagating and small greenhouses where
painted with Coolglass when I got home.
Saturday 7th May
This may sound daft to you all put when I got
home from work and looked at my plants, I “fell” out with them as I
did not think they were putting the same effort into growing as I
was putting into helping them to grow.
So I weeded and tidied the front garden up then
did half the back garden.
Sunday 8th May – Scottish
A week ago 5 of us where heading north to
Scotland and on the day it was just Mr Bryce and I.
Vincent Potts was not feeling well, Dave
Weatherby had gone to Malvern and Terry Tasker had no car to get to
Up and out for 0630hrs to get to Roberts for 7am,
I managed to have a quick look at Robert’s plants and they were not
bad considering they had been in his unheated main greenhouse since
early April. The only protection from the elements they had was from
fleece and newspaper.
We hit the M6 for approx. 0730hrs hand headed
north to Scotland and the first stop, John Hamilton’s.
Pubic information section
On the drive up north Robert mentioned that
Coolglass had been withdrawn from the market because something in it
allegedly affects the homing instinct in some sub species of bees.
He also mentioned how Ron Knight and Alan Bryce
used Titanium Dioxide to shade there greenhouses many years ago.
Titanium Dioxide is a white substance used as a white pigment in all
white paints and since they both worked at Crown Paints in Darwin
near Blackburn it was available to them.
You get it in a powder form and mix it with a
little water to form a paste then add more water and paint straight
onto the greenhouse roof.
So Robert has ordered some on the internet.
We found John at the bottom of his garden
applying shade to the roof of his greenhouse using watered down
white emulsion paint.
He took a break from painting to show us his
plants, they were all in their first pots. Buzzing about
his greenhouses were a pair of Robins, John then showed us why as
in his back greenhouse was an empty compost bag full of empty pots
and in one of the pots the Robins had made their nest and in it was
4 young chicks as you can see by the picture to the left.
Before we departed John gave us a tour of his house
and showed us the damage the storm did before Christmas, all I can
say is what a bloody mess it must have been. He is now slowly
getting it repaired.
We left John to finish his painting as Phil
Champion was picking him up later on and we made are way to Robert
(see picture to the right)
We arrived at Roberts for approx. 11am and found
him by his main greenhouse. We had a good look in his main
greenhouse and his plants looked excellent as you can see by the
picture to the left.
The same could be said for his middle greenhouse
as per the picture to the right.
His propagating greenhouse was full of cuttings
that looked impressive as well, all I can say at this point in the
year he is sat holding a good hand again you can see by the picture
to the left.
After a brew and a bacon roll we set off to the
At the start of the meeting they were going to
have their plant sale to raise funds for their Society so everyone
got a raffle ticket on arrival. The meeting started with the plant
sale – the raffle tickets were drawn one at a time, if your number
was called you could go up and choose a plant of your choice then
take it and pay for it. The raffle tickets were redrawn until all
the plants had gone. I came away with two small plants
of Falstaff & Mary Heatley, I must admit I always buy a couple of
plants at their plant sale as its one of their major fund raising
events to raise money for their Society.
Then it was time for the speaker who this
afternoon was Andrew Patterson.
His talk was “Growing for fun” and he got heckled
more than I did the month previously - all in fun of course. His talk
lasted just over an hour and the meeting finished for about 1600hrs,
so I thought right let’s have a bit of fun with Andrew so I asked
him when I was going to get the rest of the talk…. As the meeting
was to finish at 5 and not 4. He tried to protest his innocence with
saying that when he was booked to do the talk he said it would only
be approx. an hour. So this tongue in cheek debate finished in
Andrew short changing us by an hour.
The trip back
Since we got away for
just after 1600hrs we had a good and an uneventful (no encounters
with speed cameras) drive back south and home.
Monday 9th May
Temperatures hit 24, so I was stuck at work with
both my propagator and small greenhouse still bubble-wrapped however
all the doors where wide open.
I managed to book the following day off as I
needed to tidy up clean and disinfect my main greenhouse as I had
to start moving plants into it ASAP.
As it hit 2pm my car left the works carpark like
an F1 car leaving the starting grid when the lights turned green…
I got home to find my plants still hanging on, so
as quickly as possible I managed to get the bubble-wrap down one
piece at a time from around and over the plants trying not to damage
any plants and just throw them on the lawn for now. Then with all
the bubble-wrap sheets taken out and strewn over the grass, they
then got folded up and put into storage for another year in the
Tuesday 10th May
The start of the day is showed by the picture on the left. The
first 2.5hrs of the day I spent
emptying my main greenhouse out, then another hour trying to fit
everything into my shed – considering what I fit in it I think it
could bethe shed equivalent of the Tardis. Then a good 1/2 hr
brushing it down, then I set my Karcher power washer up and spent a
good 2hrs power washing the inside and outside of the greenhouse
down and then gave it a good disinfecting down. The greenhouse was
then shut down to dry. The day finished as you can see by the
picture I to the right.
Wednesday 11th May
Main greenhouse is as dry as damn it now so I lit
of a couple of sulphur candles – not a lot else I could due do as I
was going out for the evening.
Thursday 12th May
As soon as I got home today I -
1. I painted the inside of the roof of my main greenhouse with Coolglass.
Moved my plants that had been potted up into their 2nd
pots into my main greenhouse.
All the plants that where moved above where checked for any
sneaky side shoots that where growing. These where taken and put
into coir to root.
Top Tip – If you
are in a rush don’t try and paint coolglass on the inside of the
roof whilst your plants are on the staging as all off a sudden it
looks as if you plants have got Mildew (see the picture to
the right)…. After the painting the 1st pane of glass I
realised I was on a loser, so I moved my plants clear in front so no
more splashes. Then I went back and washed the splashes of
everywhere I could see them.
Saturday 14th May
The group – Central Area
The venue – Manningford Community Hall,
The speaker – Me
My road crew – Vincent Potts
Well this was first for us, a trip to an area
meeting at the Central Area.
Vincent arrived ½ hr early and caught me by
surprise as I was just getting up so I brewed up and made two mugs
off tea and gave him an update on my growing by showing him the
state of play in my 3 greenhouses. In my small Greenhouse Vincent
spotted some white spots on my potted up cuttings it was at this I
had to explain it was coolglass and not the dreaded scourge that
comes under the guise of Mildew.
We managed to get away for 10:30am and we had a
good run down that a cursed road the M6, and stopped for a brew at a
Franklin Service Station on the M42 before getting to Manningford
Community Hall for just after 1pm. We were approx. 45minutes early
so I dropped the car seat and chilled out before the nerves would
eventually kick in whilst Vincent got out of the car stretching his
legs by mooching round the car park.
Dave Staines was the first to arrive followed by
Steve Jones, Terry Carr & Derek Owen then George Rushford the
Central Area Rep himself.
George opened up the Hall and the members set the
hall up whilst myself and Vincent set the projector and laptop up.
After a brew and a chat, George called the
meeting to order, the lights went down and I was introduced as the
speaker for the afternoon so I up I got and started the talk (Before
the talk started George stated we will be stopping at 3pm for a brew
and comfort break) at 315pm I interrupted the talk to ask George
what the time as my throat felt it had been cut as I was in
desperate need of a brew. George mercifully called time for a comfort
break and a drink.
At the interval Steve Jones was going round
selling raffle tickets for the raffle.
Also during the interval I was approached by
none-other than our past president Maurice Webb, It was the first
time I have ever met Maurice and it was a pleasure to talk to him
and yes he is still growing begonias and people our still phoning
him up for advice.
Then George called the meeting to order again and
read out some items of news for the area then passed the floor back
over to me to continue the talk.
When the talk was finished and a few questions
were asked and hopefully I answered them alright the meeting was
brought to a close.
I would like to thank all those present for
turning up and listening to this grower’s point of view, and the
kind words and support that was shown to me.
We left at 17:00hrs and had a great run home and
we arrived back for just before 19:00hrs, where Vincent transferred
his gear into his car before setting of home.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank
all those present for making myself and Vincent feel so welcome.
Sunday 22nd May
Another weekend of rain however the daytime
temperature is still reaching 14oc (57of) but
at night it’s still dropping out to single figures.
This has resulted in slow growth, over the last 4
years + we have had 2 to 3 weeks of great weather in May and that
seemed to be our summer but that weather got the plants going. This
year so far we have had a few odd days of good days and that’s it.
Rumour on the Street
I have heard that a couple of our top pot plant
growers are going against the grain when it comes to potting up.
Instead of putting fresh “medium” around the root ball then just
tapping the pot down to help settle the “medium they are going to
pack it in hard.
I can see this working with a multipurpose
compost or a “mixed” medium – but I will guarantee you will not get
away this with my mix.
Contentious corner - update –
Handicapping System -
Update for Peter Sourbutts – co-conspirator on the Handicapping
Phil Champion has now retired and Steve Jones is now only working a
couple of days a week.
Until next time….