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The Secretary's Diary
October, November & December  2003

Alan Harris  (NBS Secretary 2002 - 2013)

Alan has been growing his begonias for cut-bloom exhibition.

21st. December.
About two weeks after placing the roughly cleaned tubers on the gentle heat the scab where the last remaining stem came away is ready to come off. I never rush this and only remove them when they come off with my thumbnail.  If they don't move I leave them a few more days and then try again.  It is critical that these are removed or rot is likely to set in.
Once the scabs come off the tubers are given a final brushing with a soft brush and then the labels are attached with new rubber bands.  The wound where the scab came away is left to dry over the warm cables for a few days before the trays are moved under the staging at a temperature of about 40
F. Some growers dust the wounds with sulphur, but I find it is better without.  The tubers are inspected every two weeks throughout the winter to make sure that any rot is spotted early and can be removed.

   This is the end of the growing season in my greenhouse. I hope you have enjoyed the series and found it helpful.   This is only the way I do it.   If your way works fine for you carry on with that way.

   I will be back in mid January to cover seed sowing, starting and first potting.

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7th. December.
The last few adult tubers are now rapidly going down. I move the pots every few days now and this allows anything that is ready to drop off to do so. I pay particular attention to make sure that no leaves or stems fall onto the point where the tuber joins the stem and cause rot.


After the stems have come right away I leave the pots for about two weeks to let the skins harden to avoid them being "skinned" when cleaning the compost from them.



The compost is just removed gently from the tubers to start with and then they are left to dry for another week or two until the scabs are ready to come away. I switch the soil warming cables on for this process because the atmosphere is very damp at this time of the year in the greenhouse. More about that and storage in two weeks.

16th. November.
The plants are now well on the way to dormancy. Only two weeks ago I thought they were planning on going through the winter and now suddenly they go. Now is the time to take out all the stakes, so the tops can fall away easily and if they are inclined to topple shorten the tops a little.

The batch of late cuttings which are going through the winter are now rooted and ticking over on gentle bottom heat and lights. The light is just any ordinary 18W strip light set to be on from 6am to 9pm. The plants grow very little between now and February but go away well in the spring. They then go dormant next Autumn as normal and have good sized tubers.
 

The cutting tubers taken in the spring and early summer are also going yellow and starting to go down. These will make fairly small tubers which will be started again in early February. Soon be time to decide which ones to keep and which to sell.

19th. October.
Autumn progresses and the plants are now just starting to show signs of going down. I have been watering moderately once a week and those that needed it were watered today.  I think this will probably be the last time although they will be checked to make sure there is no wilting. It is now important to remove the leaves and stems as they separate to make sure nothing causes stem rot, which is difficult to control at this time of the year.
The crosses made in September and at the beginning of this month are now ripening nicely and in about another week will be removed and taken in the house to dry off. I find if they are put into plastic drink cups the seed is separated easily by shaking the cup. The non viable sticks to the cup and the good seed can be poured out.

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OTHER PAGES BY ALAN HARRIS
The Secretary's Diary

Cut-blooms
The Secretary's page on growing for exhibition.

The Secretary's Page

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