The National Begonia Society


2015 Diary

Michael Richardson

 Episode 3. January

Saturday 17th. January
   I started taking my cutting tubers out of the pots today and will be doing so for the next couple of days as it’s a job I don’t want to rush. I have developed the following habits over the years, whether it’s right or wrong, all I know is it works for me.
Stage 1
- I brush the top of the tuber cutting so it is clean which enables me to take the scab off with ease – yes I actually de-scab my cutting tubers……….and yes I know that not many other people do! The reason I do this is because I believe there are two types of cutting tuber.
• The 1st type of cutting tuber is where the stem comes away in a whole piece. If you look at the scab you will find it covered with what looks like a layer of skin. I just gently scrap this off, dry and lightly dust with sublimed sulphur.
• The 2nd type of cutting tuber is where the stem comes away in segments - just like an adult stem, and also just like an adult tuber, you will find small segment still attached to the cutting tuber. Again I just gently de-scab the cutting tuber, as I would an adult tuber, dry and lightly dust with sublimed sulphur. If you do not carry out this process it will rot back and ruin the tuber completely.
Stage 2
- I take the bulk of the compost from around the cutting tuber. I do not brush the sides or bottom for the following two reasons:-
 • The main reason for this is if you look at the roots of a cutting tuber you will notice some big thick fleshy roots amongst them, they almost look like “tap roots” attached to a cutting   tuber (please see the picture on the left). You don’t want to take these off the tuber cutting as they act as food storage or ‘organ’ as it is known.
 • The 2nd reason is the cutting tuber or ‘skin’ is still very soft due to it not being properly formed – so any brushing at this point could and will cause damage by ‘skinning’ the cutting tuber which results in the lack of root regrowth to the area.
   Before you put the cutting tubers back in compost, gently brush the rest of the cutting tuber down ensuring you leave those big roots on. Any new roots will grow from these large roots as well as from the tuber.
At this stage I usually breathe a big sigh of relief if I find no sign of them ‘little white critters’ (Vine Weevil grubs) in the pots or any signs of them on my cutting tubers.

      As you can see that from the pictures below the cutting tubers are a good size, even the smallest ones are of a good size and they all look healthy.

Cleaning schedule update phase 1
   The propagating greenhouse has been stripped out and given a good brush down. I have taken the top inch of the sharp sand out of my two hot box’s and replaced with fresh sharp sand. All of the glass, the greenhouse frame and hot box sides have been sprayed down with Armillatox. The sharp sand in the hot boxes has been drenched with Jeyes Fluid along with the greenhouse floor and base wall. The propagating greenhouse will now be left to dry out naturally, and a Sulphur Candle ignited which will disperse fumes which will kill any bugs and fungi. I know it sounds a bit like over kill – but I like to start with a clean slate so to speak.

‘The Caledonian Tours’ 2015 schedule’
   Many of the journeys both my great late friend Les Smith and I made to Scotland (up north) were nick named ‘The Caledonian Tours’. We only needed the smallest of reasons to make a flask up and some sandwiches and hit the high road, or was it the low road?   To where our journey’s end would be either a Begonia meeting or an Open Day, a flower show or visiting other growers and their greenhouses.
   The first ‘tour’ of this year kicks off on Sunday 8th. February 2015 ‘Up North’ to the first Scottish Begonia Meeting of the year – p.s I will have two spades in the boot for Bob & Vincent just in case the weather conditions get interesting.

   If by any chance Alan & Barbara Bryce read this article, I hope they still think of us ‘growers’ back in Blighty and the unpredictable British weather whilst they’re sat in the Spanish sun with a glass of sangria watching their cacti collection grow………..slowly.

Until next time

 Cutting tubers

Michael Richardson's Diaries 2015