HOME PAGE    THE SOCIETY    SHOWS    MEMBERS GALLERY    DIARIES    MAP  
 CULTURAL     REGISTER OF VARIETIES     POTS & BLOOMS     UPDATES     LINKS 

.

The editor's Diary - January, February  2006
Brian Simmons

.

26th. February.  In spite of the weather things are starting to move.  When I look out of our kitchen window and see the lights of the sand-bed thermostats in my small greenhouse at the end of our small garden then I know that spring is not too many weeks away.

1.

2.

3.

4.

1. The semperflorens have germinated well, as always, impossible to count until they are thinned but there must be close on 1,000.

2. In the same propagator a number of small cutting tubers are shooting well, some have green leaves.

3. My larger cutting tubers are now started, potted individually in half pots and the pots surrounded by peat in a heated sand bed.  They are covered by fleece in an otherwise unheated greenhouse.

4.  These are my main tubers, removed from their storage bucket for inspection. As previously reported they all had the hot water treatment before being stored.  I have ALWAYS carried out this procedure, ever since 1972 when our late Secretary Fred Martin recommended it in the Society bulletin.  I have never had any problems with tuber loss. 

.

5th. February.  I have started the semperflorens seed and small cutting tubers, so I suppose my new season is now under way. 

1.

2.

3.

4.

1. 1,000 semperflorens seeds.  This seed from Benary has consistently given me excellent results for many years with germination of 90% or even better. 

2. The seed is mixed with a little dry silver sand, this makes distribution easier, it is spread into the seed tray from a sheet of notepaper.

3.  The propagator is kept in the kitchen overnight until germination, but in our small conservatory during the day. Also in the propagator are a few small cutting tubers..

4.  This dormant tuber has lost most of its skin (my own carelessness when harvesting). A very bad situation as roots will not develop on the skinless area. It will just be used to produce cuttings and then relegated to the garden. 

.

22nd. January.  Hot water treatment is now complete and all tubers stored.  No activity in the greenhouse yet, except for routine annual cleaning.  I have been busy with the Jeyes fluid, giving sandbeds, staging and floor a good dousing. 

1.

2.

3.

4.

1.  My main greenhouse has a concrete floor and consequently I rarely suffer from vine weevil, but this little nibbler's mum somehow found its way into one of my cutting tubers. 

2. This is the damage that vine weevil grubs cause. Luckily not one of my named tubers, but one from a basket in the garden.

3.  Because my cuttings died back too quickly (due to a very cold spell following a mild autumn) several were left with the stump of the stem still attached to the tuber. The stump will come away when ready with just a gentle tug.

4.  I do not think it good practice to divide tubers as roots will not develop on a cut area.  However as the tuber grows it's shape sometimes lends itself to separation. In this example it will be an advantage, giving me two tubers of equal size and more regular shape. 

.

8th. January.  All my main tubers were removed from their pots just before Christmas.  Cuttings in large pots were also harvested, even though some still had the stump of their stems remaining.  This is not good practice but I thought it necessary as the compost was still somewhat damp due to moisture in the sandbed.  Small cuttings will remain in their pots until it is time to restart them.

1.

2.

3.

4.

1.  Regular inspection is important during the dormant season. Scabs, which have formed where the stem joined the tuber, should be prized off, they will come away easily when ready. If these scabs are left rot will eat down into the tuber.

2.  My main tubers (2 - 4 years) are scheduled for the hot water treatment in the next few days.  I always soak them in a fungicide solution as the last stage of the treatment.  Benlate was used for many years until it was withdrawn, then I changed to Systhane.  Now this is no longer available so I am going to try Dythane 945.

3.  Some of my cutting tubers are amongst the most irregular shapes that I have ever had, but they are a very good size.  The reason for the irregularity is because in common with many growers I stop (pinch out the growing tips) from the cuttings once they are out of the propagator, this encourages new shoots from the base and potentially bigger tubers.  The new shoots in turn are stopped when about 4" 10cm tall.

4.  The cuttings have been very reluctant to die back, this one has broken out a new shoot from the remaining stump of the stem.  It is not because of a warm atmosphere as until harvesting all the cuttings have been in an unheated greenhouse with only fleece to protect them on the coldest nights. The new leaves have been providing lunch for an elusive caterpillar.

CURRENT PAGE
 AUGUST     JULY     JUNE     MARCH, APRIL, MAY
The Editor                  The Editor's Tutorial

TOP OF PAGE