Final part of Year
September sees the end of the flower shows and marks the beginning of
preparation for the following year. This year has been one of the most
difficult years weather-wise I have experienced in growing begonias.
The extremes of temperature both in spring and summer were difficult to
overcome and as a result I decided to give the greenhouse a revamp. The
two smaller greenhouses I had, were demolished and replaced with one
larger one. Hopefully the additional height and better ventilation will
improve growing conditions next year. This task took over three weeks
to complete and I must remain in debt to Bob Robertson who designed the
layout and provided his expertise in the construction. The result once
the central heating system is reconnected should hopefully provide ideal
growing conditions next April.
I experimented a bit this year, but the result was that I proved to
myself that my original method for growing pot plants still gave the
best results. Two main shoots with all the side shoots allowed
to develop produced some excellent plants. As far as varieties went
the best were
Vera Coates and
Charlotte, closely followed by
Katherine Hartley and
Colin Hamilton. A few plants were spoiled by colour run and
this is something that will have to be worked on. I do not believe that
begonia stock is to blame but rather a mistake in the growing.
October saw the start of removing tubers from pots, I plan to start them
at Christmas so going down early this year was a bonus. Hopefully the
additional growing time will allow me to exhibit at Shrewsbury next
year. Once they have been removed from the pots the next stage is to
dry them off and remove the scar where last year’s growth emanated from.
My greenhouse is too damp for this purpose, so they are brought into the
house and dried over our oil boiler, the gentle heat seems to do the
trick. After around two weeks the tubers can be brushed, and the scar
The process is completed by the end of November and the tubers are
stored in the bedroom. Normally they are kept in an unheated one but
this year I wanted them pipped for Christmas and the slightly warmer
storage conditions have done so.
Cuttings are put straight back in to start up, I have only a small
heated area that is used in January and February and the smaller tubers
can be started in small seed trays before they dry up.
Overall the time spent on redesigning the greenhouse has led to poorer
tubers, but hopefully next year should see better results. I hope
everyone has a successful wintering of their stock and look forward to
seeing a few more entries at next years shows. The aim of every grower
should be to grow flowers to the best of their ability and encourage
others to do so also. Over the last 40 years I have met some great
characters and would say that the greatest strength of the Society is
the information it provides to the members. The debt owed to Brian for
his work on the web site is huge and I will close this year’s series of
articles by thanking him for allowing me to contribute in my own small
way to its continued success.