After winning the
7 pot National
at Webb’s in 2013 I was asked to complete a diary so I have
photographed and recorded my growing details for the 2014 season.
A little bit of back ground about me
I have been for years a keen gardener entering local shows with
flowers and veg along with other hobbies such as Bonsai, course fishing,
fish keeping, tropical and outdoor cold water. I have been trying to
grow begonias for about ten years after seeing several years ago the
wonderful display at the National Begonia show at Kings Heath park
Birmingham. Living in Worcester where the weather is fair and my garden
is sheltered made this National show within easy reach as was the Webbs
National venue which took place over the last two years.
It has been a slow process and I am learning all the time by
gleaning very good information from the Bulletins produced by the
National Begonia Society and the exceedingly detailed informative
Tuberous Begonia book by Jack Larter.
I thought all was well after harvesting all my mature tubers until
on checking them last weekend December 14th and finding several rotted
away and even more with rot in them .I don’t know what’s happened
although I did not remove the calluses from tubers and feel this was the
main reason for rot although have not suffered this problem in previous
years I must have been lucky .I will make sure all calluses are removed
in future years. This next year will be a test to see what tubers
produce enough shoots for plants to enter competitions.
First of all a little detail
I use an 8ft by 6ft greenhouse as a propagation house.
The thermostat on the heated bench is kept at 10°c during autumn
/winter and 20°c during spring early season. This bench is 6ft wide
and 3 ft deep fitted with electric under soil heating cables and sharp
sand which needs to be kept damp to allow heat transmission. I use an
electric thermostatically controlled fan heater
fig 1 to keep the chill
out of the remaining part of the greenhouse set at 5°c in the autumn
and 10°c in spring.
I have a mist system over the bench to propagate in the late summer
/autumn period when the sun is strong and will soon shrivel cuttings.
The 8ft by 6ft greenhouse is lined with bubble insulation which
does cause a lot of humidity in the autumn and winter. On warmish days I
leave the door of the greenhouse open which seems to help reduce the
amount of water drips. Note when I do leave the door open I switch the
heater off for the day and switch back on when I close the greenhouse
door in the afternoon.
The main greenhouse is a 20ft x 10 ft with 5 auto roof vents
which I cover with fleece to stop insects and anything else which may
get blown about. One side vent which has an automatic control
door is 4ft wide which I fit a magnetic screen in the hot weather which
makes entry and exit simple fig 4. In this greenhouse under the bench I
have two 50 gallon water tanks fed off the roof with which I water all
my plants. Electric power is available in all greenhouses for lighting,
heating and cooling fans. All greenhouses run east to
I have just purchased a second hand 10ft x 8ft Greenhouse which my
wife Jane helped dismantle and erect along with all the cleaning of
glass and the aluminium frame. This greenhouse is planned to be used for
my restricted pots and cut blooms as last year space was somewhat tight
in the 20ft x 10 ft with large plants restricted pots and cut bloom
That’s the background and next down to cultural detail. All the
large tubers which would be over three years old have finished growing
and died down into their pots leaving me with large tubers which can be
seen in fig 5 with labels attached with elastic bands in large flower
pots in the integral garage which is frost free. These tubers are
checked for any rot which found must be cut out and treated ( I use
sulphur ) or the whole thing could be lost if not addressed. I check all
the tubers weekly until the start of the next growing.
Cuttings which were taken last year are still growing in their 5”
pots fig 6 although some of these have died down are checked and stored
as the large tubers fig 7.
This year’s spring and autumn cuttings are still growing in the
propagator fig 8 which is set to 10°c. I keep a check on these waiting
for them to die down after which when they do I will treat as the large