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The editor's Diary - June  2006
Brian Simmons

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30th. June.  This weekend promises to be very hot and sunny so I will be applying an additional coat of coolglass.  For cut-bloom growers aiming to exhibit at our Area Show it is the time to select the buds which will, in five weeks, become the blooms displayed on the boards.   

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1. With five weeks to our Show it is time to apply a top dressing to all my plants. Feeding will also commence now, strength Chempak No. 4 at nearly every watering.     

2. It is also time to select the buds for cut-bloom exhibiting. With limited space in my modest set-up I prefer to mostly grow pot plants, at least twenty of which will be required for our display on the stage. (Dave Coates will supply an equal amount).  However I do like to grow a few blooms, hopefully enough to enter the 6, 3 and 1 cut-bloom classes.  As a general rule a bud the size of a twenty pence piece will produce a bloom at it's best in 5 weeks here on the south coast.  Timing will however depend on a number of factors including the weather, the variety and ones individual set-up. The bud nearest to the coin is a little large so I have retained the one behind it. As I have said before, you can always pinch another one out but you cannot add one back on. The growing tip is pinched out above these two buds.  

3. These are two pots of the pendula variety Firedance, one will be my entry for the hanging pot class (Class 10).

4. My cuttings are progressing well, early strikings are now potted on to 5" 13 cm pots. 

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22nd. June  6 weeks to our Show at Portchester and all plants have been in their final pots for at least two weeks,  They have had a fungicide spray to keep mildew at bay and all greenhouse vents are open day and night,  two oscallating fans cut in at 70f21c.  Any remaining side shoots on plants for cut-blooms have now been removed. 

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1. The staging in my greenhouse is now set up to give the most space available to the plants as they come into flower. Being a lean-to and a converted shed there are some areas more favourable than others, therefore the best pots (shown) take the best positions. I have a total of 65 plants of which 35 will be single stem pot plants and 30 for cut-blooms, all for our Area Show. Out of the 35 pot plants the target is 8 for classes plus 2 spare and 20 for our display on the stage. all are in 8" or 7" pots.  This will allow me some flexibility by using 30 from 35. 

2. As the time nears for allowing buds to develop it may be necessary to remove some foliage on certain varieties. As a general rule I remove all inward facing leaves on side shoots.

3. The gap in the centre of the plant will certainly look bare but this clearing will afford plenty of space for the flowers when they open out.

4. The stems of my pot plants are now supported by bamboo stakes which are angled back parallel with the pot sides.  This will ensure that when the blooms open they will be above the centre of the pot, thus helping with balance.    

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10th. June  This weekend is a milestone in my season, it is eight weeks to our Area Show and I like to have all plants in their final pots by this date.  The current very hot spell has meant increasing watering to every other day, normally it would be every third day.  In early stages of the season I allow the compost to become relatively dry between waterings so that air can permeate down into the compost, then I gradually increase until with five weeks to the show the compost is kept moist.  This does not mean saturated.         

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1. I have always used saucers, and unless the surface compost looks very dry I only water into these. My theory is that if water is allowed to run through the pots and onto the ground then goodness is being lost with the water.  All saucers are partly filled in turn and then refilled as the water is drawn up into the compost. This may be repeated three or four times over a period of half an hour until the plants have sufficient.    

2. Inevitably the odd one may be over watered and then the surplus has to be tipped out, otherwise the compost can become sour. Should saturation occur I upturn the saucer to remind me that the plant has been over watered.

3. With final potting complete, disbudding will continue for a further three weeks, but caution is required as the critical timing date nears.  You can always take another bud off but you cannot add one on !

4. Three batches of cuttings are now out of the propagators and transferred to an open bed containing sand and moist peat.

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