The National Begonia Society



Michael Richardson's Diary  2016

National Society Cut bloom Champion 2014

Michael's 2015 Diary



2016 Diary Episode 9 - Final potting & growing on.

Sunday 24th April -

Busy day today as I potted 30 plants up into their second pots and also potted up 25 rooted cuttings,
 see picture to the left.


Wednesday 27th April
If you cast your minds back to my Diary last year I commented / moaned about how costly it had become to dose all my plants with Provado Vine Weevil Killer and that in 2016 I would be seriously looking at using “predators” to cut the cost down.
Well the other day I ordered some Nemasys Vine Weevil Killer nematodes (pic to right) and today they arrived. Following the instructions on the packet I split the “nematodes” in half and mixed each half in 8 Litres of water and gave them a really good stirring in, then watered all my plants with the mixture.
The packet states that they will remain active for 6 weeks, so every 5 weeks I will re-dose them. Hopefully they will work as good as the chemical equivalent I have used over many a year as I never had a problem using it. 

I then when through all my adult plants taking cuttings from any new basal shoots. I took a couple of side shoots as cuttings, but mostly I rubbed these out as they were still small. 

Then I mixed some batches homemade Johns Innes no2 ready for next wave of second pottings. 

Friday 29th April -
In the space of 24 hours we started the day with 2 inches of snow and this cleared by dinner time – then we had heavy down pours of hail followed by rain, then we started the following day with frost.
It’s just like the seasons have moved forward by one, so winter is now spring etc. 

Saturday 30th April
Just potted up a couple plants into their 2nd pots today.  

Thursday 5th May
Both propagating and small greenhouses where painted with Coolglass when I got home. 

Saturday 7th May
This may sound daft to you all put when I got home from work and looked at my plants, I “fell” out with them as I did not think they were putting the same effort into growing as I was putting into helping them to grow.

So I weeded and tidied the front garden up then did half the back garden. 

Sunday 8th May – Scottish excursion.

A week ago 5 of us where heading north to Scotland and on the day it was just Mr Bryce and I.
Vincent Potts was not feeling well, Dave Weatherby had gone to Malvern and Terry Tasker had no car to get to us.
Up and out for 0630hrs to get to Roberts for 7am, I managed to have a quick look at Robert’s plants and they were not bad considering they had been in his unheated main greenhouse since early April. The only protection from the elements they had was from fleece and newspaper.
We hit the M6 for approx. 0730hrs hand headed north to Scotland and the first stop, John Hamilton’s.

Pubic information section

On the drive up north Robert mentioned that Coolglass had been withdrawn from the market because something in it allegedly affects the homing instinct in some sub species of bees.
He also mentioned how Ron Knight and Alan Bryce used Titanium Dioxide to shade there greenhouses many years ago. Titanium Dioxide is a white substance used as a white pigment in all white paints and since they both worked at Crown Paints in Darwin near Blackburn it was available to them.
You get it in a powder form and mix it with a little water to form a paste then add more water and paint straight onto the greenhouse roof.
So Robert has ordered some on the internet.

John Hamilton’s

We found John at the bottom of his garden applying shade to the roof of his greenhouse using watered down white emulsion paint.
He took a break from painting to show us his plants, they were all in their first pots. Buzzing about his greenhouses were a pair of Robins, John then showed us why as in his back greenhouse was an empty compost bag full of empty pots and in one of the pots the Robins had made their nest and in it was 4 young chicks as you can see by the picture to the left.
Before we departed John gave us a tour of his house and showed us the damage the storm did before Christmas, all I can say is what a bloody mess it must have been. He is now slowly getting it repaired.
We left John to finish his painting as Phil Champion was picking him up later on and we made are way to Robert Nelsons.

Robert Nelson’s (see picture to the right)
We arrived at Roberts for approx. 11am and found him by his main greenhouse. We had a good look in his main greenhouse and his plants looked excellent as you can see by the picture to the left.

The same could be said for his middle greenhouse as per the picture to the right.

His propagating greenhouse was full of cuttings that looked impressive as well, all I can say at this point in the year he is sat holding a good hand again you can see by the picture to the left.
After a brew and a bacon roll we set off to the meeting.

The Meeting
At the start of the meeting they were going to have their plant sale to raise funds for their Society so everyone got a raffle ticket on arrival. The meeting started with the plant sale – the raffle tickets were drawn one at a time, if your number was called you could go up and choose a plant of your choice then take it and pay for it. The raffle tickets were redrawn until all the plants had gone. I came away with two small plants of Falstaff & Mary Heatley, I must admit I always buy a couple of plants at their plant sale as its one of their major fund raising events to raise money for their Society.
Then it was time for the speaker who this afternoon was Andrew Patterson.
His talk was “Growing for fun” and he got heckled more than I did the month previously - all in fun of course. His talk lasted just over an hour and the meeting finished for about 1600hrs, so I thought right let’s have a bit of fun with Andrew so I asked him when I was going to get the rest of the talk…. As the meeting was to finish at 5 and not 4. He tried to protest his innocence with saying that when he was booked to do the talk he said it would only be approx. an hour. So this tongue in cheek debate finished in Andrew short changing us by an hour.

The trip back
Since we got away for just after 1600hrs we had a good and an uneventful (no encounters with speed cameras) drive back south and home. 

Monday 9th May
Temperatures hit 24, so I was stuck at work with both my propagator and small greenhouse still bubble-wrapped however all the doors where wide open.
I managed to book the following day off as I needed to tidy up clean and disinfect my main greenhouse as I had to start moving plants into it ASAP.
As it hit 2pm my car left the works carpark like an F1 car leaving the starting grid when the lights turned green…
I got home to find my plants still hanging on, so as quickly as possible I managed to get the bubble-wrap down one piece at a time from around and over the plants trying not to damage any plants and just throw them on the lawn for now. Then with all the bubble-wrap sheets taken out and strewn over the grass, they then got folded up and put into storage for another year in the loft. 

Tuesday 10th May
The start of the day is showed by the picture on the left. The first 2.5hrs of the day I spent emptying my main greenhouse out, then another hour trying to fit everything into my shed – considering what I fit in it I think it could bethe shed equivalent of the Tardis.  Then a good 1/2 hr brushing it down, then I set my Karcher power washer up and spent a good 2hrs power washing the inside and outside of the greenhouse down and then gave it a good disinfecting down. The greenhouse was then shut down to dry. The day finished as you can see by the picture I to the right. 

Wednesday 11th May

Main greenhouse is as dry as damn it now so I lit of a couple of sulphur candles – not a lot else I could due do as I was going out for the evening. 

Thursday 12th May
As soon as I got home today I -

          1.    I painted the inside of the roof of my main greenhouse with Coolglass.
  2.        Moved my plants that had been potted up into their 2nd pots into my main greenhouse.
  3.        All the plants that where moved above where checked for any sneaky side shoots that where growing. These where taken and put into coir to root. 

Top Tip – If you are in a rush don’t try and paint coolglass on the inside of the roof whilst your plants are on the staging as all off a sudden it looks as if you plants have got Mildew (see the picture to the right)…. After the painting the 1st pane of glass I realised I was on a loser, so I moved my plants clear in front so no more splashes. Then I went back and washed the splashes of everywhere I could see them. 

Saturday 14th May

The group – Central Area
The venue – Manningford Community Hall, Birmingham
The speaker – Me
My road crew – Vincent Potts
Well this was first for us, a trip to an area meeting at the Central Area.

Vincent arrived ½ hr early and caught me by surprise as I was just getting up so I brewed up and made two mugs off tea and gave him an update on my growing by showing him the state of play in my 3 greenhouses. In my small Greenhouse Vincent spotted some white spots on my potted up cuttings it was at this I had to explain it was coolglass and not the dreaded scourge that comes under the guise of Mildew.
We managed to get away for 10:30am and we had a good run down that a cursed road the M6, and stopped for a brew at a Franklin Service Station on the M42 before getting to Manningford Community Hall for just after 1pm. We were approx. 45minutes early so I dropped the car seat and chilled out before the nerves would eventually kick in whilst Vincent got out of the car stretching his legs by mooching round the car park. 

Dave Staines was the first to arrive followed by Steve Jones, Terry Carr & Derek Owen then George Rushford the Central Area Rep himself.
George opened up the Hall and the members set the hall up whilst myself and Vincent set the projector and laptop up.
After a brew and a chat, George called the meeting to order, the lights went down and I was introduced as the speaker for the afternoon so I up I got and started the talk (Before the talk started George stated we will be stopping at 3pm for a brew and comfort break) at 315pm I interrupted the talk to ask George what the time as my throat felt it had been cut as I was in desperate need of a brew. George mercifully called time for a comfort break and a drink.

At the interval Steve Jones was going round selling raffle tickets for the raffle.
Also during the interval I was approached by none-other than our past president Maurice Webb, It was the first time I have ever met Maurice and it was a pleasure to talk to him and yes he is still growing begonias and people our still phoning him up for advice.
Then George called the meeting to order again and read out some items of news for the area then passed the floor back over to me to continue the talk.
When the talk was finished and a few questions were asked and hopefully I answered them alright the meeting was brought to a close.
I would like to thank all those present for turning up and listening to this grower’s point of view, and the kind words and support that was shown to me.
We left at 17:00hrs and had a great run home and we arrived back for just before 19:00hrs, where Vincent transferred his gear into his car before setting of home.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those present for making myself and Vincent feel so welcome.

Sunday 22nd May
Another weekend of rain however the daytime temperature is still reaching 14oc (57of) but at night it’s still dropping out to single figures.
This has resulted in slow growth, over the last 4 years + we have had 2 to 3 weeks of great weather in May and that seemed to be our summer but that weather got the plants going. This year so far we have had a few odd days of good days and that’s it. 

Rumour on the Street
I have heard that a couple of our top pot plant growers are going against the grain when it comes to potting up. Instead of putting fresh “medium” around the root ball then just tapping the pot down to help settle the “medium they are going to pack it in hard.
I can see this working with a multipurpose compost or a “mixed” medium – but I will guarantee you will not get away this with my mix.  

Contentious corner - update –
Handicapping System -
Update for Peter Sourbutts – co-conspirator on the Handicapping system idea.
Phil Champion has now retired and Steve Jones is now only working a couple of days a week.

        Until next time….


Michael's 2016 Diary