Episode 28 - Into
7th November -
The problem I have when I take cuttings early in the year is by the
time I get into November they start to go down. The leaves and then stems start falling off x1 segment at a time or
varieties the stem just comes off in one piece as you see by the picture on the left.
Most of my cuttings are now showing signs of tuber production by either
appearing above the soil or by pushing the pot out of shape (see picture to the right).
Thursday 12th November -
I had to have a day off work today, but it did mean I could spend some
time in my main greenhouse as the stems were falling off all over the
1. I went round all my plants and took off or picked up any fallen stems
2. Then I went through all the plants whose stems had come away from the
tuber and took them out of their pots and gently “cleaned” most of the
medium away from around the tuber. I was being very careful not to take too
much medium off so as not to “skin” any of them - this means taking the skin off
the tuber as it has on the picture left.
As the old Blue Peter
saying goes “here is one I prepared early”, yep no matter how hard I try
I always “skin” at least one tuber at this time of year.
3. Once I have the bulk of my medium off the tuber I just place the
tuber and label back in the pot and stack them up, and leave them for
another x2 weeks to dry off properly.
4. I then moved my cuttings that I had on the floor stored in trays to
the first tier of the staging, and watered those that needed a drink.
Finally I loaded all the bags of medium that I took off my tubers in the
boot of the car as well as all the vegetative debris and took it all to
the local tip.
14th November –
All the top growth on my following outdoor varieties have more or less
fallen off –
• Madame Richard Galle
• Bon Bon Sherbet
• White Flamboyant
So I took the tubers out of either the tubs or ground and got most of
the “medium” from around the tuber then put them in trays and left them
stacked in a greenhouse to dry in their own time.
The following varieties have still a lot of top growth on so they have
been left outside for a little longer –
• Red Flamboyant
• Fire Dance
• Glowing Embers
unexpected happened, I received a phone call from Dave Weatherby saying
he was in the area and was it ok to visit. An hour later he arrived
at my humble abode, not being used to visitors I had to brush up quickly
on my hosting skills, this included x2 brews and a “tour” of my
greenhouses in the rain, then back to the house for a chat.
Tours 2015 number 9 – Scottish Begonia Society AGM – and last trip north for
Sunday 15th November
was Mr Bryce’s turn to apply for an authorised absence day (unpaid of
course) so that he and his good wife could go and visit brother Alan and Barbara
Bryce in Spain. That left myself and Vincent a man down, so up
stepped Dave Wetherby to fill the breech.
Now Robert Nelson is a member of the Scottish Begonia Society committee
and had to be on time for this committee meeting as it also led into
their AGM, so he asked us to arrive a little earlier. That meant I had
to leave at 0645am to collect Vincent at 0715 then over to Chorley to
pick up Dave Wetherby for 0745. Then it was on the M61 to the M6 then
straight up to the M74 and Carluke and Robert Nelsons.
I think we hit the tail end of Hurricane Barney, the rain battered it
down on the way up. Every river we drove over or drove past we noticed
the waters were well above the river banks, like the rivers Ribble,
Keer, Lune, Eamont, Eden, Esk, Sark, Annon and the Clyde.
We arrived at Roberts just after 1030, and found him mooching about in
All his plants in his main greenhouse were out of their pots and the
tubers were now laying with their
labels in his propagators.
His middle greenhouse was full of cuttings and they looked really well
(as you see from the picture on the left), and when you “waggled” the
stem they felt as though they were solid in the pot – a good sign of
tuber production, as far as I am concerned.
As you can see by the picture to the right in his propagating
greenhouse he has “customised” his hotbox units so they had a higher
side and now a solid lid to turn them into large propagating units.
At this point we left the greenhouse and the cold outside and went into
the warmth of his kitchen where Margaret had made bacon rolls and a pot
of tea, so the conversations that followed touched on most subjects
whilst we filled our bellies.
The time flew past and in what seemed like no time at all it was
noon and we had to bid farewell to Margaret probably for the last
time this year and set off to Airdrie and the meeting.
On arrival at Springfield Community Centre in Airdrie Robert met up with
the committee and as they got down to business the 3 amigo’s found a
table and sat and chatted.
When the committee meeting finished other members of Scottish Begonia
Society started to arrive and the hall quickly filled up, and it was not
long after that the President of the Scottish Begonia Society Samuel
Kennedy dropped the gavel to start the commencement of the AGM.
Next came the shock of all shocks, when it was time for the re-election
of the committee members Samuel Kennedy (see picture to the left) took his
presidents badge off and placed it on the table in front of him and
announced he would not be standing for re-election….. A deadly silence
fell on the assembled masses, before he explained that
after 14 years he felt it was time for the Society to move into a
different direction and he would not be dropping onto the committee
either. Another piece of bad news was read out with regards to James Allan
the Vice President who was retiring from his position due to health issues.
That meant the members present had to elect a new President and Vice
President, and to cut a long story short Robert Nelson was elected the
new President of the Scottish Begonia Society and George Thompson was
elected the Vice President. Elizabeth Kennedy was re-elected as
Treasurer, Peter Matthews was re-elected as the Secretary, David Nimmo took up the position as Show Manager and then the rest of the
committee were elected.
The rest of AGM agenda went without any more shocks and before we knew
it, it was 1700hrs and time to clear the hall.
After we bid are farewells we started off on the long journey back home
in the dark and rain. We got Dave Weatherby back to his car safely for
approx. 1945hrs than Vincent back to his home in Langho for about
2020hrs and I rolled through the front door just before 2100hrs. Not
long after that I was in bed as I was up for work the following morning
The last word on the day, I just want to congratulate Robert Nelson and
George Thompson and wish them all the best on their new challenging
17th November –
With the day length shortening fast now, means that when
I get home from work for 1500hrs it's dark for 1600hrs. So that gives me
about an hour’s window as x2 of my greenhouses have no lights in but my
big greenhouse has x2 big strip lights.
So tonight I went through all my plants and cuttings in my second
greenhouse doing exactly the same as I did in my big greenhouse a week
20th November –
We had heavy rain that turned into sleet then snow, by
9pm the cars on the avenue were white and the temperature had dropped to
21st November –
I got up for work at 5am and found it still at 2°c, I
knew that I would have to sort my plants out when I got home, as the
weather forecasts had predicted heavy frosts and I did not want to
tempt fate of frosting my tubers. Early afternoon and with time and room
against me I had to get a move on –
1. I sorted out and consolidated up my cuttings in my back hotbox and
with the room created I moved all my cuttings from my big hotbox on
the left to the back one.
2. In the empty hotbox I relayed some clean plastic sheets to cover the
3. I then went through all my tubers that I had taken out of their pots
and left in my big greenhouse on
Thursday 12th October and brushed them
gently to remove nearly all any remaining medium from them.
4. I then took them all into my propagating greenhouse and sat each
tuber on its label in the hotbox as you can see by the picture on the
22nd November –
I took out another wave of tubers from their pots today
and removed most of the medium off them. These are the ones whose stems
had come off during the week.
I put the tuber and its label back into its pot and stacked them on the
floor of my propagating greenhouse as it has a heater in to
keep it frost free as you can see by the picture to the right.
24th November –
I managed to get all my Glowing Embers tubers out of
their troughs just before it went dark, the frost that we had the other
morning had “knocked” the tops back. They were plug plants that I bought
at the start of the year, and they looked to have produced very good
28th November –
Today I went through all the tubers that I had just left
in their pots stacked on the floor of my propagating greenhouse to dry
out a week ago. I gave them another brush off and placed them into the
hotbox with the others I had done to finish the drying process in
readiness for de-scabbing.
Then I got the next wave of plants whose stems had fallen off the plant
and gently teased most the medium from around the tuber. Then I gently
brushed any medium from off the top of the tuber and placed the tuber
and label back in their pot, finally stacking these pots on the floor of my
propagating greenhouse to dry out a little more (see picture to the
30th November –
All the tubers that I took out of their pots on
Thursday 12th November have had approx. 19 days to
finish ripening off, so
today I went through the lot and –
• De-scabbed them the “normal way as you can see by the pictures to the
left (before) and right (after).
• Then I dried the “wound” by gently dapping it with some kitchen roll.
• To finish I lightly dusted them with some Sublime of Sulphur
Now I have a terrible habit of “over checking” a tuber, by that I mean –
• If I see a scab that I have missed from the previous year I take it
off and dry and dust the wound.
• If I see very rough or scaly skin (see picture to the right) I just give
a little scrape to see if the skin is “sound”.
• If there is rot in a tuber you will definitely hear and feel it when
brushing your tuber. If I find any “brown” rot then I will examine how
bad it has took hold, then that will determine whether it’s worth saving
5th December –
Took another wave of tubers out of their pots this
afternoon then stacked them up on the floor of my
to dry out some more.
After checking the cuttings in my main greenhouse for fallen leaves and
stem segments, I found about dozen stems just came away from below soil
level as you can see from the picture on the left. So these pots with
the new cutting tubers in were moved into my propagating greenhouse to
carry on developing.
Today I started by de-scabbing the 2nd wave of tubers
that had been placed
on the Hotbox last weekend to dry out a little more (see pictures to
left and right).
Then all the tubers that I took out of their pots last weekend and
stacked on the propagating greenhouse floor to dry out a little more, I
gave them another brushing off and sat them on the Hotbox to dry and
ripen some more.
I went through all my cuttings in the propagating greenhouse
checking for any fallen “debris”.
One thing I have noticed this year is the difference in toughness with
regards the skin of my tubers depending on the medium they have been
grown in –
• Multipurpose & Multipurpose mixes – the tubers skin is a lot softer
and can be “skinned” very easily
• Johns Innes No2 – the tubers skin is a lot “harder” and not as easy to
“skin” and is a lot more forgiving towards this heavy handed growers
that’s it, for this year – I just want to wish everyone Happy Christmas
and a Great New Year.
last thing, have you ever wondered how Father Christmas delivers all the
presents in time - He hires Ian Donaldson to “drive” his sled.
That concludes Michael's excellent
and comprehensive Diary for this year,
I hope you have found it as interesting and enlightening as I have.
He will be back in 2016, inviting us into his greenhouse
and on journeys north and south of the
border - Editor