The National Begonia Society


The Lonely Begonia Grower

Phil Champion's Diary


With my enforced period of rest no work to worry about for a few weeks, I had arranged a trip down to the south coast to visit a few old friends & compare my plants, something that would not normally happen. 120 mile round trip first was Dave & Pauline Coates. Dave's greenhouse (A) his plants looked good & healthy but my first reaction and I kept this to myself that my plants were far more advanced. I am now panicking in my head and will have to sort out plants that were for the National to be now used for the Titchfield show. After a nice lunch prepared by Pauline it was off to Bill Sqibb's greenhouse (B) same thoughts, my plants are too advanced not just for the mini show even my plants for the National. Both are growing plants for the National has well. Dave had given me a plant in a 3litre pot so on returning home I was straight into the shade house comparing plants (C). As you can see some difference in size of plants. The only issue is the 2 plants of my own are of Sweet Dreams & Dave's in the middle is of Joyce Mihulka. It was now a waiting game for John Hamilton's update on his plants for the Ayr show which is the following week from Titchfield. Weekly update I think it was 11 or even 12 days before John's next piece appeared ( 7 days to a week John). any way it was the 29th. May. My plants are more like the same as Johns and the fact is both Dave & Bill both grow in Levington m3 (soiless), I am still learning to grow in loam. Will admit though that this year I am very happy with the way things are going can't wait to let them flower.
   The month of June is the first protection against the dreaded little weevil (D) this one had a sore head after this picture was taken. One cup full to a 3 litre pot (E) of Provardo works for me (F) using Dan Ramage cup & stick passed on by John Hamilton, it saves a lot of time for sure. I have every plant out and treated every pot of Begonia (G). This also proved to me that I have too many plants. Now as you can see the shade house is now filling up rapidly (H) with120 plants. They need a bit more room, but I am struggling to shift a few out as they all seem to be growing well. The greenhouse is no better 130 plants (I). What concerns me even more everything has to fit into the greenhouse at the end of the year. That is without too many cuttings so far, I will need to take a batch for pollen in July though sure something will happen by the time we get there. (conservatory looks like it could hold a few - furniture in the garage? talk to the wife she will understand not.)
   The next few pictures are ways of taking cuttings that work for me and I don't use any rooting powder or the like. This plant of whispers threw out 5 stem cuttings (J). The top 2 I discarded, could have waited till they were larger but this is a variety I have plenty of. Another way of increasing stock (K). All you need to think about is any cutting you take if slightly too large cut a leaf off here & there, they all root and produce tubers. Here is the tray of cuttings I took at the end of April (L), sometimes I will leave them in the tray for the rest of the season, but will show you the root growth after about 4 weeks (M). 3 & 4 inch pots are used, I need to find somewhere to put these now (N). Only one failure, a leaf cutting (O), can't win um all. My feeding I am trying to keep simple as possible, all my plants for the National have had Nutrimate added to the compost, it cuts down the amount of feeding required and helps to stop the leaching of nutrients. They have had one foliar spray of Fulvic acid, this helps the nutrient uptake of other feeds get to the plant quicker and helps the photosynthesis in grey light conditions. The special K feed will be used one week after the bud has been secured. All the above are organic compounds, at present none of my plants show any sign for the need of any feeding and this is the root system I have in a 3ltr. pot aimed at my first show (Q). This is the top growth, the plant is Beryl Spurr (U). Towards the end of the month the first buds will be selected when the real nail biting starts.



















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