British National Carnation Society

Leading the way with Dianthus

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A WORD OF WARNING!!!!!

It was my most successful year ever, 2011 saw me achieve a long held ambition to win the coveted Banksian Medal. This I achieved at the Summer Show held at Towcester. It was my aim to build on this success. I had good stock with a number of my own varieties achieving first, along with other established varieties.
My growing conditions were favourable; I felt my compost mix was spot on – what could go wrong!!!
My mix for 2012 was sterilised medium – from my old compost – rejuvenated with additional fertilisers. So I thought I would repeat this regime for 2012. Cuttings and or layers were taken from my stock plants into 12 compartmental cell trays and rooted in the propagator. When they were well rooted I started to prepare my compost. Barrie Gamble kindly lent me his steriliser and I got to work setting up a production line – unsterilised compost through the steriliser into the mixer, get 2 or 3 mixings and pot up. Everything seemed to go well – I left the potted up plants in the greenhouse for 2-3 days then put them outside on my covered benches. As I was finishing the potting on I noticed that the plants were not progressing as well as they should. I was not too concerned at this stage as I always say it is what goes on at the root that is most important. As time went on into mid March the plants had decidedly sick look about them. SOON checking, some had succumbed to stem rot but most just died. I have lost 80/90% of my plants. The only difference I can think of is that the ammonia gas given off when the compost is released from the steriliser coupled with using the compost too soon after sterilisation is the cause of my problems. In my haste to get the plants potted on I feel I did not give enough time for all the noxious gases to evaporate and more importantly should have sterilised the soil away from the plants. For convenience I had stationed the steriliser next to my potting bench.
A salutary lesson – do not sterilise any mix near to plants and use the steriliser in a well ventilated space. Leave the sterilised medium for a t least a couple of weeks before you even contemplate using it.
I will have a few plants thanks to the kindness of Doug Cottam, Phil Cross and Barrie Gamble but not the volume I usually like to grow.

Plants that were affected by using the method as described above

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Plants not affected by the sterilisation

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