The National Begonia Society




The Secretary's Diary
January & February  2004

Alan Harris  (NBS Secretary 2002 - 2013)

The start of a new season.

29th. February  2004.
These are my earliest started small tubers and it highlights how they start at different speeds.  They were all planted together, but whilst some have moved ahead others are barely showing.  Amazing how they end up all the same by mid summer.

The over-wintered cuttings have really grown on well and I've now potted them on into 4" pots.  They have also been stopped and so I hope to get another crop of cuttings when they shoot again.  They are growing in Westland Multipurpose which I find has a good open texture.

Most of the remaining seedlings have now been pricked out.  The earlier ones have made progress, but they are not as short and sturdy as I would like.  I think I will have to use a double fluorescent tube for next year.  Still with the longer days they will be OK.  I turn the lights off at the end March as day length is enough without my help.

8th. February  2004.
The seedlings are now at the stage where the furthest forward are ready to be picked out.  I use Westland Multipurpose (not the one with JI) and find this just right in texture.  I moisten the compost first to save compacting the surface.  The pricking out is done with the little pointed stick which I've used for many years and it saves damaging the roots when they are moved.

The small cutting tubers were started in the other propagator a couple of weeks ago and one or two are just showing.  I use the 24 cell tray inserts for these as the odd one always rots and the trays stop this spreading to the others.  It is important not to cover the propagator as the condensation causes rotting on the new growth.

The tubers of the pendula varieties will be started next week and to get them pipping nicely I place them upside down on the warm dry sand in the heated bench.  I find that this always makes the pipping faster and I use the same trick when starting the other adult tubers in a months time.

22nd. January  2004.
The seed has germinated and the seedlings are growing well. The temperature was reduced to about 65F for one week and now the covers are removed during the day.  I make sure the seed is not sown too thickly, the seedlings then have plenty of room to grow and don't need pricking out until the first true leaf is about inch across.

This is the set-up after dark, with the covers in place because the night temperature in the greenhouse is only about 45F and I don't want them to get chilled.  In the background the over-wintering cuttings are doing really well.  You don't need to spend a fortune on lighting, the cuttings are quite happy under a 30W strip light.

11th. January  2004.  - Seeds away.
The seed from my own crosses is sown early in January using small trays with lids.  The trays and lids are washed and sterilised, I use Physan but no doubt bleach would do.  A soil thermometer is very useful to ensure that the temperature of the compost is between 70 and 80 F.  I moisten the compost several days before and then pass through a fine sieve.
The trays are then immersed to ensure the compost is fully charged with water.
The propagator I use is thermostatically controlled and I set it initially to 75 F.  The trays are then warmed and checked before the seed is sown.  It is best to check and adjust the temp if necessary after 24 hours to make sure it is ok.  The light is controlled by timer to be on for 15 hours from 6am til 9pm. Under these conditions I expect germination in 7 days or so.  The light is cool and so is placed right on top of the lids.


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