The National Begonia Society


2015 Diary

Michael Richardson

Episode 5. Late February

Cleaning Schedule phase 3
   The start of the dreaded pot washing season is up on me now as I cannot put it off any more. What ever happened to “Bob a job week” when the scouts came round doing odd jobs for 50p!  For £1.50 I could have had - x1 brushing the pots out – x1 washing the pots out – x1 rinsing them off and stacking so they can dry off – my own mini production line so to speak.
   I know Alan Bryce told me that he had not washed a pot in 30 years!! He used to let the frost get at them to kill anything that could have been lurking around; he is not the only grower who does this. Since I clean everything else I might as well do the pots as well.
   The days are getting longer now so I can spend an hour or so after work each day slowly working my way through them as the tubers don’t need “touching” yet.

Adult Tubers & Large Cutting Tubers
     If something goes wrong with your propagating unit’s temperature control unit or heating cables and you don’t spot it straight away then you could easy lose a week or two of growing time. This could leave your tubers sitting in cold damp compost for a period of time, which is the last thing you want to do. The usual time for problems to occur is the back of the year when the propagators are not being used, so when you fire them up at the start of the year the light on the thermostat box might be on but the thermostat control or heating cable might not be working.
    Now the smart thing to do is to at this stage is to check that the propagator is working properly and the heat is being generated equally across the unit. The way I do this is by using a cheap digital food probe to probe the compost / medium all over – at present the temperature is ranging between 22° to 22.5 ° and I am happy with that. As well as this I have a couple of thermometers placed around the propagators as well.
   My adult tubers and large cutting tubers have been in since Sunday 16/02/2015 with the propagator set at 25 ° Celsius (approx.77 ° Fahrenheit).

1st Potting preparation
Now my tubers are in and the clock is now ticking so to speak, to when they will be ready to be potted on. I now have to make sure I have got all my ingredients ready to make my own John Innes No2 mix fresh when it’s required.
     This mixture consists of:
     Kettering Loam – clay content of 32%
     Shamrock Course Medium Peat
     Alpine 4mm Grit
     Sharp sand
     Vitax Q4
     Garden Lime
     Dolomite Lime
     Calcified Seaweed

   This list will no doubt lead to a few debates with some growers or bloody hell he does what!!  from others.
   Well I will explain my mix in more depth in the next chapter when I get my first mixes ready. You cannot beat the feeling of potting up begonias in your own homemade compost. The only downside is you cannot blame the compost when things go wrong!!!! only yourself.

‘The Caledonian Tours 2015’ Tour No 2
   Less than x2 weeks to go until Sunday 8th March and another drive north of the border for the Scottish Begonia Society’s 2nd meeting of the year. The speaker this time is Neil Bragg and his subject “Compost Mixes, Innovations” so that should be interesting considering the calibre of growers who will be attending the talk.

                            Until next time….

Michael Richardson's Diaries 2015