The National Begonia Society



Michael Richardson's Diary  2016

National Society Cut bloom Champion 2014

Michael's 2015 Diary



2016 Diary Episode 2    Concluding the 2015 season.

Saturday 12th December -
I went through all my tubers that had been de-scabbed and treated with sub-limed sulphur and –
   1. Gave them a final brushing off.
   2. Cleaned the name label using baby wipes – this cleans them up a treat.
   3. If the name on the label is fading, I re-write the name on in pencil.
   4. Finally I “attach” the label to the tuber via an elastic band.
   5. Then they are placed in large plastic trays – side by side – I do not stack them on top of each other.
   6. Then the trays are taken to my mothers and stored in a spare room with no heating on.

I just have about 40 tubers left to dry and de-scab – then it’s all cutting tubers.

Saturday 19th December -
Today I finished off de-scabbing my tubers, they were then put in single layers in plastic trays.
All my tubers were then stored in a spare bedroom with the radiator turned off, so they are kept frost free and safe.
That just leaves my cutting tubers in their pots, hopefully still developing.
Sunday 20th December –

Cutting Enigma final entry – as you can see from the picture to the left this pig headed cutting did finally produce a cutting tuber after two years of trying.

Saturday 26th December –
What I do next will properly come as a shock to a number of growers –
    • I go through any cuttings that still have a stem and foliage on and give the stem a “feel” to see if there is any sign of tuber production underneath. If there is none I just throw the stem with roots attached away (see picture to the right as an example).
Why do I do this!!!!
    • I don’t want to carry any “greenery” into the next year – I could be carrying “problems” over to the new growing year if I do.
    • I am not short of these plants, if I am short of the odd variety then, I “rent” my daughters window sill off her to keep them growing on through the winter.

So now in my propagating greenhouse I either have –
    • cuttings whose stems have come a way.
    • Cuttings with stems etc. attached but with a cutting tuber.

As per normal I have a number of cuttings which have decided to develop a cutting tuber above the “soil” level as you can see by the pictures  to the right and left.
Why they do this I do not know – but I was once told that it was down to a cutting being planted too “deep” – whether this true or not I don’t know….

Saturday 26th December (Boxing Day) –
Overnight we suffered from one of the heaviest rainfalls ever experienced in our area. They officially called the storm Frank. As you can see from the pictures to the left and right, the River Roach that runs through Heywood has burst its banks.

Saturday 2nd January 2016 – Time to get my main greenhouse ready for the start of the new season.
    • For now that means all my plant pots are sorted into types ready to be washed.
    • All the staging is given a good brushing and then stacked on top of the top tier.
    • All the fleece is taken down and discarded – as it’s been used for a number of years and has started to breakdown and perish.
    • Then the floor is given a good brush out.
Then I will use this space to –
    •Stack my pots on the staging after washing and drying them out.
    • Mix all my homemade multi-purpose compost.
Then finally the greenhouse will be –
    • Jet washed inside and out.
    • Disinfected inside and out.
    • Finished off with a couple of sulphur candles..

Tuesday 12th January – I started to take the cutting tubers out of their pots

Thursday 14th January – I finished taking the rest of my cutting tubers out of there pots.
Then I went through them all –
     • Gave them a good brush off and checked for any signs of rot..
     • Also checked for any “critter” attacks (thankfully I found no sign of Vine Weevil).
Once I know the cutting tuber is “sound” –
    • I then take off any last sections of stem that are still attached – see pictures to the left and right.
    • The rest I de-scab as normal – I know other growers don’t de-scab cutting tubers but I always have – they don’t really have a scab like an adult tuber but a hard layer of “skin” as you can see by the pictures below.
To finish
Some other “types” of cutting tubers I have encountered –
The “tree trunk” -
This type of cutting tuber that looks like there is a last section of scab between the top of the medium and a cutting tuber beneath the surface. And when you waggle it a little it feels solid, to the point that you would swear there was a tuber under it.
However when you take it out of the pot all you find underneath the stem is root!! As you can see from the picture to the right.
When this happens it really “irks” this grower.

The “Drum Stick” –
This type I come across now again and is when the cutting tuber has a long length of stem still attached hard and fast to it.
Now this may sound a bit brutal to some growers but I get a very sharp knife and gently cut the stem off at the base, just as it meets the tuber as you can see by the pictures to the left and right. This is just because I don’t want to carry any “growth” into a new growing year.
I then just dry the wound as normal and then dust it with sulphur. When you start up this cutting tuber it will just pip and start as a “normal one”

The “Sherlock Holmes and the case of the disappearing cutting tuber” –
Of all the issues I have with cutting tubers this case is the most intriguing. It is when your stem comes away from what you would expect to be some sort of cutting tuber so you just put the pot to one side and leave it so to speak until you are ready to take the cutting tuber out and repot to start them up again.
But when you come to take it out all you find is root and no sign of a tuber, nothing at all (and no, it was not eaten by a vine weevil grub). As if by magic it had disappeared into thin air…. Baffling – see picture to the right.

   Well that’s me done for another growing year, and more than ready for the challenges that Mother Nature will no doubt try and throw my way this year.

Until next time.