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Growers in the Spotlight - North & South of the Border

Michael Richardson

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DAVE WEATHERBY  North West Area Representative

Visited Sunday 5th. March 2017

Dave winning 9 Pot Championship at the Ayr Show 2015

Where do we start with a grower who has only being growing begonias for 3 years –
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Year 1 he won the Southport 20 pot class (see picture to the right)
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Year 2 he won the Southport 20 pot class and the Scottish 9 pot championship (see picture to the left above)
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Starts year 3 (2017) as the North West Area Representative. 

Dave has 3 greenhouses and this year he has altered his normal start up procedures.
Greenhouse 1

His main greenhouse is 24ftx10ft and for the start of this year he has split it into 2 -
The first half of this greenhouse he has used as a storage area like many growers at this time of year as you can see by the picture to the left.
The second half is a 12ftx10ft section (picture to the right) that has been isolated and insulated off using “double bubble” wrap.
On the staging to left hand side of this section he has built x2 propagators.
Unit 1 (see picture to the left) Is approx. 5ft x2ft homemade hotbox unit using “planks” of wood and lined in plastic. The base is made of wood then a layer of polystyrene to act as insulation against heat escape through the base, then it is protected and lined with a layer of plastic. And finally a sand base is put in and layered between the sand, a soil warming cable is sandwiched in the sand and this is controlled by a Parasene thermostat control. To turn it into a propagating unit Dave has placed polycarbonate sheets on top of the unit.
The Unit is filled with M2 mixed with perlite and brought up to 70oF / 21.110C before he puts his tubers in.
As you can see by the picture to the right he still has a few late tubers coming through.
Unit 2 (see picture to the left) -
It is again approx. 5ft x 2ft and is basically constructed in the same way as the unit above.
The Unit is then filled with M2 mixed with perlite and brought up to 70oF / 21.110C before he puts his tubers in.

As you can see by the picture to the right his tubers are now potted up in their first pots and put back on a little heat to help acclimatise them. He also has a few cuttings that he has taken and placed in this propagator to root. 

At the end of this sectioned off part of the greenhouse. 

Unit 3 (see picture to the left) --
He has a Parasene propagating unit, this he uses as his begonia crèche – any small pea sized cutting tubers or bits of tubers that have formed on the stem or leaf get given a chance of life in the unit as well.
 Coming back up on the right hand side of his main greenhouse he has another propagating unit that he built early this year. 

Unit 4 (see picture to the left) -
His new unit approx. 6ft x 2ft and is basically constructed in the same way as the units 1 & 2 above, however on this unit the top planks just come off lowering the overall height if & when required so.
The Unit is then filled with M2 mixed with perlite and brought up to 70oF / 21.110C before he puts his tubers in.

As you can see by the picture to the right his tubers are now potted up in there first pots and put back on a little heat to help acclimatise them. 

Unit 5 (see picture to the left) –
Next to this propagating unit is a small propagating unit that has his cuttings in. Around the 22nd February Davetook his first batch of cuttings from of his cutting tubers see picture to the right. 

 

12th March 2017 - Stop the press…. As of going to press it has been confirmed Dave has made another hotbox unit to fill in the gap on the staging that was left between his “Unit 5” to his “partition wall”. 

Greenhouse No 2

This greenhouse is 12ft by 10ft and as you can see by the picture to the right the blocks to the left hand side and across the back of this greenhouse, it is where his x2 old propagator units were at the start of the year until he moved them into his sectioned off section of his main greenhouse (the 2 running down the left hand side).

As you can see he has started ordering his Levington M3 Pot & Bedding compost and grit in, by the pile of bags in the middle of the floor

I would not be surprised if his original x2 hotbox units return to this Greenhouse so his cuttings can be taken and rooted there through the year – that will allow him to utilize all his staging again in his main greenhouse.

 Greenhouse No 3 -

This greenhouse is also 12ft by 10ft and is predominantly used for growing on his plants when they’re in their final pots.


As you can see by the picture to the left it has 3 tier staging on all 3 sides, he also still has a few pots of roses that he is overwintering in this greenhouse. For those you do not know Dave Weatherby I will tell you that in a “past life” he was a very very good rose grower and showman.

 

Growing Mediums used -
Dave starts all his tubers in Levington M2 Pot & Bedding compost and perlite.
His first potting is into Levington M2 Pot & Bedding compost and perlite.
His final potting is in Levington M3 Pot & Bedding compost and grit. 

Continuing on with Dave’s love affair with M2 he also strikes his cuttings in M2 and perlite. 

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As you can see by the pictures to the left and right this is what Dave’s main greenhouse looked like in 2016 later in the year.

 

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New for 2017
Now Dave is not one to turn away a good deal so he went on Gumtree to buy a new greenhouse, and for £200 he bought one  approx. 20ft square as you can see to the picture to the right. The only problem was he had to travel to Southampton to take it down, load it and bring it back – and the A Team that he took on this mission was himself, Peter Sourbutts and a lad who works for Dave, and on Saturday 21st January they set off for it and 23 hrs later they arrived back with the greenhouse in pieces on the back of his flatbed truck.

His plans are to take down and move his 2 small greenhouses and in their place he will put his new one, and he hopes to have this done so he can use it for this year’s growing.


His next project is to build a coldframe that runs down the side of his main greenhouse. As you can see by the picture to the left showing that he made a start clearing room for it.
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Dave knows somewhere close to him that recycles used plant pots and trays – so he is getting a load of the “plant pot holding trays” as per the example shown in the picture to the right. He is going to cable tie x2 together and just sit them along the length of his coldframe floor and the right type of square 1litre pot will sit in each hole allowing air movement all around them .

Finally
In 2016 Dave tried his hand at cut blooms – so if he has come so far so soon - then the sky is the limit to what he could achieve – and he is still young enough (Dodgy Dave paid me to say that).

Once again an article from myself would not be complete with about a contentious issue – so here it is

Growing in Soilless compost
Dave is an advocate of this growing procedure and I know Dave Coates also is and that he has won the National 12 board Championship, but has anyone won both the National 7 Pot Championship and the Scottish 9 Pot Championship in soilless compost…. As Dave Weatherby has.
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I would like to thank Dave for allowing me to write this article.

 

 

The George Jackson Trophy   Southport Show 2015 & 2016          
Group of Begonias– not more than 20 & not less than 15 pots         
                                     

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