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 The Secretary's Diary
May & June  2003
Alan Harris  (NBS Secretary 2002 - 2013)

Alan has been growing his begonias for cut-bloom exhibition.

22nd. June
The East Anglian Area have a display stand at the East Anglian Flower Show at Bourn near Cambridge on the 28, 29 and 30 June.  These are some of the plants for the display. Other members are growing species, hanging baskets, etc. and next weeks item will include a review from the show.
If you can make it to the show we will be delighted to see you.

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15th. June
With the plants growing strongly it is advisable to stake them to prevent possible damage, either from the weight of the plants themselves or from wind and carelessness.  If growing for pot plants it is best to put in further stakes for the side shoots as they get larger.  I use square stakes and polypropylene string as this does not absorb moisture.

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The early cuttings rooted in 2" pots are now growing away in the 3" pots.
If they are not needed for pollen in the autumn it is a good idea to stop the plants now. If you are lucky the cuttings will throw another shoot from the base.
Cuttings taken from now on are left in the small pots for the whole time until they die down after Christmas.

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12th. June
Now is the ideal time to treat your pots against Vine Weevil.
This pest used to be a real problem, but Provado has made it easy to control.
I mix a 10lt. batch and find that the old cod liver oil pot is 300ml, for a 7" pot, and just right for dipping in the bucket and tipping in the pot.

Most plants are now in final pots and the staging has been tiered.
This means I can water and check the plants easily, as well as ensuring they get the maximum amount of air.
This shot shows the inside of the greenhouse where the glass has been removed.

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1st. June
The seedlings sown in January and hardened off during May are now planted in
the garden.  They spend the first year in the open ground where the form and vigour can be assessed.  They are covered with green shade netting for the first
month to protect from strong sunlight.

Large Tuberous Begonias like cool and airy conditions and to help achieve this the glass has been removed down the south side of the main greenhouse.  The
door is now left open whatever the weather until the end of September.  The
polycarbonate is also removed from the propagation end to give a through flow of
air.

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25th. May
The taking of cuttings is still in full swing.  I find that at this time of the year they root without any heat.  I simply twist them off and remove to just leave one leaf.   They are then inserted in moist compost in a tray under the bench.
Unless they dry right out they are not watered anymore until rooted.
They usually root in about 3 weeks in 3" pots.

The cuttings rooted earlier in the season are now well rooted and moved on into 4" square pots.  They stay in these from now on.
The pots are stood on the now cold sand beds in the propagation house where they root through into the wet sand. This saves on watering and also prevents them from falling over.

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17th. May
When growing plants for cut blooms it is necessary to remove all the side shoots and grow just the main stem.
If the side shoots are removed at this early stage they can just be rubbed out without damage.  If you need them for cuttings let them grow to 4".

It is now time to start the program of spraying to prevent mildew.  I find that if you start spraying now and then every other week until six weeks before the show you will be clear for the rest of the season.
 I start with Systhane Fungus Fighter and then use a different fungicide each time. They are best used at one half strength to avoid damage.

Now we are in the middle of May my plants for the East Anglian Show are going
into final pots and being moved to the shade house.
I find that even if there is a late frost they are quite safe and have recorded temperatures of minus 2 without any damage.
The plants seem to like this move to cool conditions and leaves take on a
deep green.

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12th. May
The potting on is in full swing with most plants now ready to go into their second pot.    Picture 1 (left) shows what I consider to be the right stage of root development for potting on, whereas picture 2 (right) is slightly over and should have been potted a week earlier.

These plants were potted on a week or two ago and are now growing steadily.
The final potting will take place in about 4 weeks, again depending on the root development.
 I am growing all my plants in J I no 2 from the first potting onwards, having started them in Westland Multipurpose.

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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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