is an Educational twist to this instalment
Wednesday 23rd September – Autumnal Equinox
5 things you may not know about the first day of
• What does the word “equinox” mean? It means “equal night”. Daytime and
night are not actually equal even though the centre of the sun sets 12
hrs after it rises, the day begins as the upper edge of the sun reaches
the horizon. Hence the days are slightly longer.
• Is the equinox always on the same day – It usually falls on either the
22 or 23 September but in 1931 it fell on 24th September. The Gregorian
calendar does not always match up as the plant takes 365.25 days to
orbit the sun, this results in the equinox day being delayed by a day. The
next time this will happen is in the year 2303 on 24 September (please
note I will not be around to debate this if I am wrong).
• Why do meteorologists say autumn begins on 1st September – To make
accurate comparisons of seasonal weather from year to year,
meteorologists often divide the season into x4 3 month periods.
• The difference between the autumn equinox in the North and South Pole?
If you live at the South Pole you will be experiencing the first sighting
of sunlight in 6 months, as the September equinox marks the first day of
spring there. Those who live at the North Pole will be beginning their 6
months of darkness.
• Celebrating the Autumn equinox – Stonehenge has the Druids and music,
China celebrate with a harvest festival and Korea mark it with a type of
26th September -
Well it’s that time of year where I go through all my cuttings and
“weed” out all the ones that are the “runts of the litter” so to speak.
The ones that I have “weeded” out, have been put at the back of my
propagating greenhouse on top of the back hotbox and given a little heat
and will be fed as well as I try and force them to bulk up a little (see
picture to the left).
All the strong cuttings were left outside for another week or two as
the leaves were showing no sign of seasonal change e.g. leaf’s yellowing
I then went through all my strong cuttings left outside and –
• Checked and where necessary stopped them by rubbing out side-shoot’s
• Fed them with Chempak 4 – 15:15:30
Now John Hamilton can get birds nesting in his begonia hanging baskets
in his greenhouse (see instalment Caledonian Tours 6) me… I get toads
nesting in the tops of my cuttings, see pictures to the left and right. – So I have
a “knot” of Toads (that’s what you call a group of Toads just in case
you are wondering).
Well it’s nearly that time of year when I stop watering my adult plants
to try and get them to go down and head to dormancy. Now I am a grower
who likes to get there plants down gradually so they are coming out of
their pots during November.
The last thing I want is the tuber sitting in a damp pot because they
have not had enough time to dry out properly.
When to stop watering - Now this is a hot topic of discussion between
growers and I base my decision on the following x3 points -
First – The weather in your area
• The warmer it is, the more you still have to water or your plants will
dry out too quick.
• The cooler it is, the less you have to water as without heat your
plants will not dry out quickly enough.
Second – The type of plant you grow
• If you grow a single stem plant you don’t have to water as much as you
just have the “foliage” on x1 stem.
• Now a pot plant is different as its takes up a lot more water than a
single stem plant because it has multiple stems resulting in a lot more
foliage. It also means you have to water longer than you do a single
stem plant just because of how quick a pot plant will take water up
Third – Your growing medium
• John Innes No 2 mix – this mix retains water a lot better, so you
don’t have to water as often and stop watering earlier than the next two
types of medium.
• Multi-purpose Johns Innes mix – You have to water it more due to the
Multi-purpose compost content of the mix.
• Multi-purpose mix – you have to water nearly every other day as once
it dries and comes away from the sides of the pot it’s a sod to
rehydrate it. So you have to water it a lot longer after you have
stopped watering a John Innes No2 mix.
Please remember I use Kettering Loam which has 32% clay content in my
Homemade Johns Innes No 2 mix – so it will retain water a lot longer
than other mediums – so basically what I am saying is I am in a position
where I can stop watering earlier than a lot of growers when you couple
that with my local weather conditions. The other advantage with using a
loam with a high clay content is the way it dries out, as it dries on
the outside forming a type of crust that keeps the moisture inside.
27th September to Friday 2nd October -
This without doubt could be one of the best weeks of the year with
average night temperatures
around 12°c / 55°f and the average day
temperature has been above 20°c / 68°f, along with beautiful blue skies
and no wind.
But believe it or not is has caused me a serious problem. I had got my
plants just where I had wanted them just damp and slowly going back.
However this spell of great weather has dried the pot out too quickly so
over the Thursday & Friday I went through them all –
1. To check them for fallen flower stems and leaves that have dropped.
2. And to give them some water to “rehydrate” them again
3rd October -
Well the night temperature is back to the low single figures again and a
cold day followed.
My cuttings are still looking alright outside as they are still green
and “growing well” I can tell this by –
• The top of the compost in the pot is starting to bulge up – sure sign
that a cutting tuber is “forming” below and pushing the compost up as it
makes room for its self (see pic to right).
• Basal shoots are appearing well away from the main stem – sure sign
there is a cutting tuber “forming” (see pic to left).
11th October –
Brought some more cuttings into the greenhouse, that leaves 50% still outside.
Now according to tonight’s TV weather report for my area it has
forecasted that the night time temperature will be dropping to just
above freezing and could drop below zero during the week. That means the
rest of my cuttings will be coming in at some point during the start of
this coming week.
12th October –
Found my car's windscreen frozen at approx. 0530hrs whilst going out to
work and the outside temperature was 2°f. When I got home from work I
moved another 25% of my cuttings into a greenhouse, the last 25% will be
brought in tomorrow.
Help from a fellow grower -
Basil Billinger contacted me and informed me he waters all his begonias
with rainwater collected in slim line water butts. Also that he has
never washed them out either. Now like me you could be wondering how he
keeps his rainwater clean and fresh and problem free!!!!! I hope he does
not mind me divulging his secret – He puts a lump of coal in each water
butt…. Yep, a lump of Coal / Charcoal. He did not exactly know how it
worked, but it did.
curiosity got the better of me, so I have done a little research on the
technical jargon –
First - Now with regards a lump of coal – If you use anthracite coal (see picture to right), the coal grains carry a slight electrical charge on their
surface, they act like tiny magnets attracting other charged
contaminants that adhere themselves to the surface of the coal.
Second – Now with regards Charcoal - Charcoal is carbon and Activated
charcoal is a material that is produced from carbonaceous sourced
materials such as coal and wood that has been treated to thermal
decomposition in a furnace and oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores
between carbon atoms. The use of this special manufacturing process
results in highly porous charcoals that have surface areas of 300-2,000
square meters per gram (see pic on left).
Physical adsorption is the primary means by which activated carbon works
to remove contaminants from liquid. Carbons large surface are per unit
weight allows for contaminants to adhere to the activated carbon media
what Activated Charcoal will & Wont Filter -
It will filter –
• Chloramine – are derivatives of ammonia by substitution of one, two or
three hydrogen atoms with chlorine atoms
• Tannins – organic substance found in some galls, barks & other plant
• Phenol – also known as carbolic acid
• Hydrogen sulphide & some other volatile compounds
• Small amounts of metals like, such as iron, mercury and chelated
It won’t remove –
• Sodium and most other cations
• Significant amounts of heavy metals, iron and copper
• Bacteria, protozoa, viruses and other micro-organisms
tale – to finish with
My mother told me that during the Second World War a lot of the woman
including her mother used
to work in munition factories. One of the things
they used to do to save time the following day was to peel the potatoes and
put them in a pan of water with a lid on as well as putting a piece of
coal in with them the night before.
Apparently if you did this the peeled potatoes neither dis-coloured nor
went “slimy” when they were stored overnight.
My mother will be in trouble if this is a wind up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
you have to admit, is that this series has certainly been an educational
journey, for us all so far….