The National Begonia Society


 Cliff Parker's South Wales Diary 2010

14th. March to 13th. April

March 14th. Started on the potting up of the plugs today, it will take a couple off days to complete. As it is motherís day I will have to take my wife out for lunch and so will only be able to put a short time in.

March 15th. Up early today to get a good start on the Begonia plugs. I decided at 7am to take some of the begonia plugs from plants direct (the donated ones) down to the Hospice. I was shocked when I went to the car the windows were all frozen, not just frost but solid ice, it would not scrape off and the de-icer had no effect I had to start the car and let the heater defrost the windscreen. I am glad I covered all the plugs in the glass house with fleece. (I do this as standard practice until mid April) and then check the forecast each night until mid May and cover as required.

 March 16th. & 17th. Weather very mild but dull, but I was able to get on with the potting up of the plugs. The tubers from last year have started to pip after their hot water bath and the dip in the Domestos solution. They are now in the large hot box at a very low temperature of 10įc they will stay there until they have a good root system and then potted on into their first pot of the season. The cutting tubers for our new members have all sprouted well in their pots and should make a good plant by the spring meeting when they will be given out.

 March 18th. to 22nd. Extra busy five days trying to pot on all the plugs, I wish glass would bend, the glasshouse and my polythene greenhouse are busting at the seams. I had to stop potting on Sunday and attempt to make a temporary greenhouse behind the garden shed to try and accommodate a further 50 trays. The glasshouse down at the hospice is also at bursting point, but as the building is a U shaped feature I hope to keep a lot of trays outside in the lee of the building and rely on the heat from the building to keep the temperature above freezing and use some of my garden cloches to keep the plants free from any excessive rain.





2009 cuttings tubers for new members.
One of the Exhibition tubers from my deep propagator, Dug it out to see how things were growing as 2 shoots were showing above the peat.
even the table used for the family Christmas lunch have been brought into use to try and make space for all the Begonia plugs.
a couple of the cutting tuber ready for distribution to our new members.

March 23rd. & 24th.  Lashing down with rain both days, and I am now having to do the potting up on my outside potting bench normally only used on warm summer days but as the greenhouse has now reached bursting point I have no option. The potting bench has a corrugated plastic roof but is open on two sides and the wind whistles in, it helps to keep me moving fast just to keep warm. With luck only a couple more days left of potting on the small plugs then I start re-potting the larger plugs and last years cuttings into larger pots. Ho well it will then be time to start potting up the show tubers. I LOVE IT.

March 28th.  Clocks went forward one hour last night, but I was still up at the crack of dawn to try and keep up the momentum of potting on the 5500 begonia semps plugs. The biggest problem is space and I am having to make a lot of temporary cover to keep the heavy rain of them, I have never had so many plugs before but decided that to make money to cover the cost of the displays and to buy a new lawn mower at the hospice I would have to sell a lot more plants. And also the Area group will have to find and lot of money in the coming season to fund our second show and so we will need a large plant stall at our spring meeting.

March 29th.  The cuttings taken last year are looking good and I should have a good selection for the new members to choose what variety they would like as their free tuber for joining the NBS.
Slide A 2009 cuttings tubers for new members

March 30th. & 31st.  Wet, cold, and thoroughly miserable is the only way to describe the last couple of days. As most of the plants are in a polythene greenhouse the temperatures have not been very high (approx 8-10įc) over the last few days, it has been a struggle to keep the begonia plugs from damping off, watering has bee kept to the minimum and as much ventilation as possible (windows and doors open in the daylight hours and the fleece on at night as kept the damping of under control. still a few plants have suffered where the rain has managed to penetrate between the sheeting due to the very high winds. I tend to re-pot these plants in fresh drier compost before the damping off can take control.

April 1st.  The weather is making a fool out of me. We have had rain, snow thunder and lightning and that was from dawn to lunch time the weather improved in the afternoon and I managed to pot on another 400 plugs before my fingers felt as if they would fall off with the cold, the sun might have been out but the wind chill coming across the garden into my potting area was deceivingly cold. Never mind thereís always tomorrow Good Friday to try and catch up.
April 2nd. to 6th. Well the Easter has come and gone, the weather was quite disappointing but I did manage to get a lot of potting on done and with a bit of luck all my bedding plant plugs will be potted up by mid week. as I am not a retail nursery, I only grow enough plants for my garden and the Hospice, and this year some to sell at The South Wales Area Spring Meeting to try to raise funds for our 2010 show and enough to sell to cover the cost of these give always.  I feel I went over the top with the amounts ordered when I placed my order and when over 10,000 plugs arrived over a ten day period I then knew I had gone over the top, but they are all potted up now and all I have to do is to water and feed them for the next month.
April 7th. to 9th.  Every thing is now calm, I canít find much to write about as I wait for the Spring temperature to rise it seems all I am doing is covering the plants at night and closing the greenhouse windows and in the morning removing the fleece and opening the windows, the temperature is still to cold for much watering I have learnt by very expensive experiences that begonia plugs cold temperatures and water do not go well together

April 10th.  Glad to see in my propagator the first signs of my over wintered show tubers coming through the peat cover. Before last season 2009 I had never grown an exhibition Begonia I had only grown Large Double tubers for my garden displays. And the way I started them off each year was in my 6ft x4ft sand based hot box, the box is about 10inches high and has a bottom layer of soft sand, The heating cable is placed in this layer, On top I have about 4inches of Irish Moss Peat, I then water this peat thoroughly and when drain place my tubers on top of the peat with the labels attached with a rubber band, I then cover them with another layer of damp peat. I then only spray the top peat layer when I see it drying out. I do not see the tubers again until the majority of them have sent up a good crop of shoots, This might not be the way of most growers but as I had not contact with any other Begonia growers I just felt it was the right way to do things and I have always had a near 100% success rate. I hope it stays the same with my more expensive tubers

Slide B One of the Exhibition tubers from my deep propagator, Dug it out to see how things were growing as 2 shoots were showing above the peat.

April 11th.  Checked the greenhouses and watered where required canít start a lot today, after lunch I will be going to Nailsea to the South West Spring Meeting, it is always good to meet up with our friends on the other side of the Bristol Channel and the meeting always has a good guest speaker. This year it is Mr Jack Larter and so it should be a very informative talk.
April 12th.  Excellent talk and slide show at the South West Area meeting yesterday. It was great to meet up with old friends and meet new ones.
Today I am preparing A talk for my local Horticultural Society on my way of growing begonias for patio and garden displays and also try and get a few members to produce a pot plant of a large flowered double begonia for the flowering plant class at out local show in August. I managed to obtain 18 large tubers from my local garden centre for £5 as long as they are mentioned at the talk, I will give these to any member who would like to try a get a plant suitable for show. They will be started in 4inch pots and I will demonstrate on how to pot on to larger pots and with a bit of luck we might get a couple of new members for next year.
April 14th.  Morning started of extremely dull with a stiff North Easterly very cold wind, but by lunch time the sun had come out and even though the cold wind remained it was quite pleasant in the greenhouse getting on with the watering.
April is a funny month for trying to write up information for a daily diary nothing seems to happen much even though I have been working extremely hard, The Begonia Semp plugs have all been potted up but they donít seem any bigger now than a month ago but as they are all still alive (well most of them) something must be going on under the compost.
Slide C even the table used for the family Christmas lunch has been brought into use to try and make space for all the Begonia plugs.
   The talk at my local gardening club seemed to go well, as this was the first time I had done a live demonstration. 12 members agreed to take a potted up tuber home with them and grow it on for our local show in August. I gave them each a couple of larger size pots so that they can pot on from 4 to 5Ĺ to 7inch pots as they were taught at the demonstration ( I did not have a 6inch pot available).
   The free tubers for our new members are growing well Slide D, and by the time this diary is published they would have been distributed to our new members at our spring meeting being held on the 18th. April in Britton Ferry, Mr John Chiswell is giving a demonstration on taking cuttings and propagation followed by a slide show.

  14th. June to 13th. July     14th. April to 13th.May
  14th. February to 13th.March   19th. December - 13th.February

The South Wales Area          South Wales Area Show 2009