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The Secretary's Diary
August - November  2004
Alan Harris  (NBS Secretary 2002 - 2013)

18th. November.
The plants are now heading into their rest period.  The tops are going yellow and the leaves are falling off almost daily.  All the supports and sticks have now been removed because I don't want anything to hinder the leaves and stems falling away.  All watering was stopped before the end of October.  The plants are now inspected twice a week to ensure no rot can set in where leaves fall.

The late cuttings are now starting to yellow as well.  These are earlier than normal, but the tubers are swelling so they must be ready.  Watering is mostly stopped, but if any wilt a tiny drop is given to keep them upright.  They are likely to go down in the next week or two as well.
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The tops have fallen from some of the earlier tubers and they are left for a couple of weeks or so in the compost to harden the skins on the tubers.  You notice I have removed them from the pots to make sure they dry thoroughly.

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The hanging basket tubers have been down for about three weeks and have been cleaned of compost.  They are dried on the polystyrene trays for a week or so until the scabs are dry enough to be removed. They will then be put away with the labels attached by elastic band.  More on this next time.

18th. October.
The cuttings
which have been in the garden since June are now maturing nicely, and have been dug up, still in the pots. They are in the shade house for the time being because they dry off better in there.  The shade house is quite safe for the early light frosts.

The seedlings which showed promise have been lifted, but the rest are left in the garden to be frosted.  They are then left a week before being dug up and dried off. They have to be treated in this way because I just don't have the room if they dug whilst still green..

The over-wintering of cuttings has been so successful over the last two winters that I have taken more this year.  The cuttings were taken between the end of August and the end of September.  There are about 50 under two 3ft fluorescent tubes.  Gentle bottom heat is provided, because the greenhouse is only heated to 40F. The lights are on from 5am to 9pm whatever the weather until the end of March.

The main greenhouse is now very crowded, with plants everywhere on 2 tiers. They are only being watered on an "as required" basis now.  This means that I have to move and inspect each one every few days to check them.  I still have the door open all the time and the glass on the south side has not yet been replaced. I want them to be cold and airy, then they will get the hint.  I will be glad when they decide to go down !

27th. August
   Having had some of my best blooms ever in the run up to the East Anglian Area Show at Spalding, the ones I had intended to show at the National are awful.  All grown the same way in the same compost, what a challenge cut blooms are in my location.  I have taken some photos which show just how bad they are, with running, blotching, marbling, and nibbled fronts.  You name it and I've got it on the blooms.  On top of all that they aren't even large enough to show.

   Some of the cuttings taken in June are now starting to bud up. These are the ones I hope to use for hybridising in the next couple of months. The picture shows Coppelia with pollen in already. A pity I haven't got any female flowers yet !

    In an earlier article I mentioned the cuttings being planted in the garden in their 4" pots for the summer.  This is the stage they are now at.  I leave the flowers on to check for correct labelling and sometimes  I get pollen on these as well.  I don't find it affects the size of the tubers, which seem to be good done this way.  I will put a photo of some tubers on the update when I harvest them next spring.

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OTHER PAGES BY ALAN HARRIS
The Secretary's Diary

Cut-blooms
The Secretary's page on growing for exhibition.

The Secretary's Page

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