Time to think about digging up begonias

Begonia
Begonia

SOUTHSEA GREEN: our pledge to save trees

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I don’t know about your garden, but I think this has been a sensational year for all types of begonia.

Begonias which were planted as tubers earlier in the summer need to be dug up once they are frosted, leaving the stems and leaves intact.

It’s a good idea to leave the plants to dry off for a couple of weeks on a bench in the greenhouse before snapping off the stems and removing the roots.

This method will ensure that as much energy as possible will return to the begonia tuber so that it can survive the winter in a frost-free place indoors.

Once the tubers have been cleaned, the best idea is to label them and store them in dry peat all winter, then start them into growth again next March.

If you can get hold of a wooden box, place two inches of peat in the bottom, put the tubers on the peat and then cover them with an inch of peat.

All you have to do is moisten the peat next spring and off they sprout again. It saves time when there’s lots to do in springtime.

If you grew begonia Non Stop, leave these plants in the ground until the foliage AND stems die down completely.

If you do this, there should be a nice little tuber on the base of the stems. Did you know that?

As we begin to remove the dead summer bedding, we’ll see quite a lot of weeds too as it’s the time for weeds to grow, especially as the soil is still warm and moist.

Don’t forget that the weeds are doing a job. First they’re ensuring they can seed so that their species will grow again next spring and they are also absorbing nitrogen from the soil in order to store it. This is nature’s way of recycling, but if we’re sensible, we’ll pull out the weeds and dead plants and compost the lot.

Oh, not again, no more compost heaps! Yes, I can hear what you’re saying. Now come along, you’ll be digging in all that already-made compost soon.

All the material is best dug into the borders or vegetable garden at any time between now and the end of February.

Now a little reminder. A compost bin is best if there is contact with freshly-dug soil because the bacteria in the ground will help start off the composting, even in cold weather.

Place a 4in layer of garden waste in the bin, then add one part urine in seven parts water and sprinkle over the top.

Don’t just pour it on neat, but sprinkle to dampen the material. If you’d prefer, there are other activators available such as Garrota, sulphate of ammonia or blood, fish and bonemeal.

But the thing to remember is that good compost must have the activator added after every 4in layer.

Keep covered and the humus forms far more rapidly.