The National Begonia Society



Michael Richardson's Diary  2016

National Society Cut bloom Champion 2014

Michael's 2015 Diary



2016 Diary Episode 3 -  Into the New Season

Saturday 23rd January –
Today I stripped everything out of my propagating greenhouse and scrapped the top layer of dirty sand out of my hotbox units.
The roof and sides of the greenhouse had a good spray down with Armillatox and I drenched the sand in the 2 hotbox units with Jayes fluid. The floor was drenched and brushed down with Jeyes fluid, then the doors shut and left to dry (see picture  to the left)
The two aluminium benches that I took out where washed down and sprayed with Armillatox and put into my main greenhouse to dry off.

Tuesday 26th January –
Arrived home from work at approx. 14:45hrs and after a quick change I was outside fighting the light to get my 2nd. greenhouse cleaned out and washed down.
All the staging was taken out and given a good scrub down with hot soapy water, then the concrete blocks that are used to support the staging were drenched with a Jeyes fluid as well as the block wall around the base off the greenhouse. All the glass and frames were sprayed down with Armillatox and finally the floor drenched in a Jeyes Fluid.
Then the doors were shut and its left to dry.

Thursday 28th January –
Tonight I let a sulphur candle off in both greenhouses, that means they are both ready to start the new growing season.

Saturday 30th January –
I managed to get my propagating greenhouse and my small “overspill” greenhouse bubble wrapped this afternoon this will help keep the heat in and the frost and cold out.

Sunday 31st January –
Not a lot done today, I had a day off work so I did not get up until 10:30ish. The weather outside was rubbish, it had started raining late Saturday afternoon and it was still persisting it down so to speak.
So to make sure I had not wasted a day, and to generally make me feel better about not doing anything outside I just put some fresh grit sand in my hot boxes to level out the existing sand as you can see by the pictures to the right and left.
Then I had a drive up to my younger brother Robert's house to borrow some Visqueen as he is in the Roofing Game. This is to line my hot boxes with since I am to do away with trays and the Visqueen is to form a barrier between the sand and compost.

Tuesday 2nd February –

Spent an hour or too trying to fit the visqueen into my 2 hotboxes. I managed to get them roughly fitted but I will not trim them down properly until they are filled with multipurpose compost and has settled properly (see pictures to left and right).

Saturday 6th February –
Managed to make 2x100 Litres of my Homemade Multipurpose compost today.
The formula for my mix is as follows –
    • 75 litres of Sphagnum Moss Peat
    • 25 litres of Sharp Sand
    • 600 gram Vitax Q4
    • 150 gram Garden Lime
    • 150 gram Dolomite Lime
They have now been left to stand for a couple of days to mix properly as you can see by the picture to the right.

Next year I am thinking of starting my tubers in Levingtons M2 Pot & Bedding compost – a number of top growers are using this to start their tubers in these days.
The other thing I might get is an electric concrete mixer to help me make my mixes rather than doing it all by hand.

Sunday 7th February –
The first job today was to get one of my small Sankey propagators up and ready to get my small cutting tubers in. I filled the propagator half full of sharp sand and watered it in with warm water (this will help it come up to temperature quicker). Then I put a big tray in the propagator and filled it with multipurpose compost and as above using warm water I watered the compost in, then put the lid on the propagator and set it to warm up to 70°f / 21°c. This was then left in my “overspill” greenhouse ready for the cutting tubers.
The second job was to turn the hotboxes on low to start warming the sand bed up and hopefully warm the Visqueen up so it becomes a little more pliable when it comes to the final fitting.
The third job was to put a heater in both my propagating greenhouse and overspill greenhouse ready for when they are needed.
The fourth job was to put the other aluminium staging back into the propagating greenhouse.

Finally I put my smallest cuttings tubers into a bucket of warm water as you can see my the picture to the left –
1. This was to help plump them up a little.
2. To see if any were “rotten” – a sure sign if any of them floated.
I left them in for a good hour to “soak”.
Then I buried them in the compost in the Sankey propagator that I had prepared at the start of the day.

I am running about 2 weeks behind with regards putting in my cutting tubers, but I have been busy with other begonia related projects that I am currently working on so to speak.

Monday 8th February –
Took delivery of our new “Caledonian Tour coach” today. Had to order one that had a little more leg room for Vincent Potts since he had a knee replacement operation at the end of last year.

Wednesday 10th February –
I managed to get home earlier enough from work to fill the 2 hotboxes with my homemade multipurpose compost, and then give it a good watering in.
Then I trimmed the visqueen down to size as you can see by the picture to the left.
Finally I covered the tops of the hotboxes with a layer of bubble wrap to help raise the temperature quicker (see picture to the right).

Saturday 13th February –

Today I put all my adult tubers in the hotboxes (see pictures to the left & right), I had no choice really due to the mild winter we have just experienced. Just like the spring flowers in the garden that had started to flower early due to the changes in the seasons, my tubers had well and truly pipped.
They got their normal dunk and soak in a bucket of warm water,
 I do this for the following reasons –
    • To help them swell and plump up a little, so they do not absorb all the moisture from around them when they get buried in the hotbox.
    • If they sank it was a good sign the tuber was solid and trouble free.
    • To see if any floated, this was a sure sign of problems like brown rot.
See the picture to the left showing a floating tuber and the picture to the right showing it dissected.

Contentious Corner 2016 issue 1 -
This is a tricky one that does not quite add up…
I have a habit of sieving my peat before making my multipurpose compost. The bag states 100 litres when filled, so I opened it up and sieved it all through. Then I got a 12 litre bucket which has the litre amounts marked up one side of the bucket, then measured out 10 litres of peat tamping the bucket down on the floor to settle it then empting it into my mixing bag. I measured just 8.5 buckets out or the equivalent 85 litres….. That meant either –
    • The orange bucket that I bought from a well-known DIY store had the litreage marked wrong at the manufacturing stage.
    • The bag did not actually filled with 100 litres when it was filled.
It does not quite add up, does it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Public warning

Someone who will remain nameless (Vincent Potts) thought it would be a good idea if I took this Cultural Diary adventure one step further and do a talk as well!!!!
Without thinking I agreed to give a talk this year at the first North West Area Meeting on Friday 1st April.
Then my “Publicist come Agent” Vincent Potts got me gigs at the following venues this year –
    • Sunday 10th April - Scottish Begonia Society
    • Saturday 23rd April - Yorkshire & Humberside Area
    • Saturday 14th May - Central Area
    • Sunday 20th November – South West Scottish Begonia Society
If the Cultural Diary took me out of my comfort zone then you can hazard a guess how apprehensive I am now.
Well, what’s the worst thing that could happen!!!!
1. Me and my agent getting run out of town….

Until next time….



Michael's 2016 Diary