Sunday, 16 September 2018

Hairy Tickle

Morning all,
Just seen the weather forecast for next week and Helen says "it's bonkers", so looking forward to that! Hopefully not too mad so we can keep up the nice run we have had, it's fantastic out there today.
Hope it's not too wild as we have a temporary office arriving on Monday and the new replacement on Wednesday. One is ready to go in a metal box, the other in over 500 wooden pieces on a pallet or two. I suspect one will be a bigger challenge than the other to move into.
Just hoping it all goes more smoothly than this week's potting which stalled on Thursday, just as we were looking to go full tilt before the weekend. The call over the walkie-talkie, "Derek the machine has stopped" is never a good sign, with an experienced team on the job they can sort out most issues that crop up and having to call me usually means trouble. At least the machine was nearly empty of compost so we didn't need to dig it out which is usually the first job, but Greg and I spent the next day and a half in it, trying to sort out a complete seizure. Frustratingly we managed to free it up after a few hours but we were left with a suspicious knocking and vibration as it ran. We loaded a bit of compost in it, to see if that might lubricate the process and tested it out for half an hour. It definitely didn't sound right so it was back to the tool shed to dismantle the thing even further, so we could try and identify the issue. After quite a wrestling match we got the crumbling and bent 'compost
gate' off (controls the amount of compost going into the lift conveyor) and discovered the problem behind it. At some point the bars on the lift conveyor, plus probably a foreign body or two, had ripped the metal sheet at the bottom, then later as the chain stretched and got a bit loose, a bar caught it and bent the whole sheet back on itself. It was just the bottom 4 inches so a modicum of judicial trimming and then tickling with the lump hammer got it all back in place and eventually running beautifully. With the compost gate reinforced and reinstalled as well, it is now running so quietly I suspect it was probably damaged quite a while ago and it all just came to a head with one big catch. We are now feeling pretty pleased with ourselves for getting it sorted, just don't remind me about the lost potting time.
A heart warming image accompanies this message, although those of you with a sensitive nature may not want to check out the attached image (Waitrose Doves). It's something we spotted on our way into get the groceries this morning. Someone doing the shelf stacking was either lacking imagination or feeling creative! Nice facial expressions too. "What are you looking at?"



WOODEN BOX RETURNS
If anyone is ready to send back their collection of empty wooden boxes please do let us know. Over the next few weeks we would like to collect as many as we can, so we can get them out of your way and cleaned, dried and mended before the cold damp winter arrives. Thanks.

Availability highlights
The late summer flowering Anemones are looking great in the gardens and we have some looking good now, some with bud coming. Anemones are always a tricky one as the natural tendency is for the plants to go tall. looks fab in the garden but not so easy in a pot. We have some stonking September Charm and Honerine Jobert at the moment. Autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium are coming into flower.
We have a fresh batch of compact and chunky Leucathemum Banana Creme with strong bud showing. Pretty little Tiarella are in bud and flower now. Fresh batches of Salvia Sensation in blue; and white are in bud and about to show colour. Viola Konigin Charlotte traditionally flowers in the spring with its deep violet colour and stunning scent, but we find it does produce a pretty smattering in the late summer too and sure enough that is what's occurring now. Looking and smelling great. We have a couple on fresh patches of Achillea in bud on short stems, the red Paprika and silver leaved Moonshine.
A few of the Asters are beginning to show signs of flowering. Fantastic plants of the mildew resistant Asmo are throwing up plenty of bud, compact and chunky, just beginning to open their pale lilac flowers. Starshine, Lady in Blue and Rosenwitchel are both also in bud, nice compact plants with colour showing on some. The massively popular Erigeron karvinskianus Stallone is sprouting plenty of flower buds, full of promise and dainty colours. Foliage starts to be of interest at this time of year and there are some good shows of colour from the Carex Evergold, Ajuga, Heuchera, Lamium and Euphorbia.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Big Hair

Morning all,
Just can't find enough hours in the week at the moment. So many new projects on the go, loads of tunnel clearance and potting to get done, as well as orders to go out. At least the weather seems to be with us at the moment. I had been thinking I might get up to the big Four Oaks trade exhibition last week, but time got the better of me and a holiday exodus meant I might be missed, difficult to believe I know. I would have been interested to see the non-plastic offerings on show as this seems to be flavour of the moment. From the press reports it seems that various different coloured pots is a popular direction and there are a few bio-degradable versions out there too which is good to see. The heightened level of interest from other growers can make me anxious at times as they are all potential extra competition for us, although we have so much more than a non- plastic pot in our package they have a way to go before catching us up. There is plenty of coverage in the current Horticulture Week with a couple of pages devoted to it, including a paragraph on ourselves, buried in the middle, covering our exciting exhibit a few weeks ago at the DEFRA summer reception in the big city. Fame at last.
On the theme of further reducing single use plastics, we have just given the go ahead for a new label cutter to be made so that we can take away the last main bit of plastic in our deliveries. Our range of perennial plant coloured pot labels are already made from 100% recycled plastic and are recyclable, but from next spring we will be ushering in a new era with card labels waterproofed with plant cellulose. The labels, printed for us by Floramedia, will be made from a material called B500 which
can be recycled through paper waste schemes or composted in the garden. The labels aren't quite as indestructible as the plastic version but when used in conjunction with our bamboo skewers which hold the label away from the worst of the damp compost, the label life is pretty good. After trials over the last year we feel it is certainly worth a go.
Another new project is going to be the replacement of the nursery office and print room. As a temporary mobile cabin, it has served us well for over thirty years but the holes and leaks, very thin and poorly insulated walls, bendy floor, broken floor beams and loose walls means that time is up. We spend most of our waking hours in or around here so it will be very exciting to have a cosy and efficient replacement. With a limited budget we are sticking with a similar design to the lab store and the staff rest room buildings we have put over the last few years, twin walled log cabins with extra insulation in the walls, floor and roof. Although not permanent structures they should last for ages and judging by the others we already have, they are very comfortable and the running costs will be minimal. I've started clearing out the old office in preparation, with a massive recycling binge of old records and catalogues. It's scary how much rubbish you accumulate and even scarier when you come across pictures of young people with big hair starting up a new nursery!
Apologies to anyone who may have tried to call us over the last week or two and got cut off, we are still having issues with our cordless handsets playing up. The engineers keep coming out to play but disappear again with them sort of working, but not quite. If you have trouble, do leave a message, or drop us an email, and we will get back to you as soon as we are back in the office using the reliable ones that are tied to the wall.
WOODEN BOX RETURNS
If anyone is ready to send back their collection of empty wooden boxes please do let us know. Over the next month or so we would like to collect as many as we can, so we can get them out of your way and cleaned, dried and mended before the cold damp winter arrives. Thanks.
Availability highlights
The late summer flowering Anemones are looking great in the gardens and we have some looking good now, some with bud coming. Anemones are always a tricky one as the natural tendency is for the plants to go tall. looks fab in the garden but not so easy in a pot. We have some stonking September Charm and Honerine Jobert at the moment. Autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium are coming into flower. Fresh batches of Salvia Sensation in blue, rose and white are in bud and about to show colour. Viola Konigin Charlotte traditionally flowers in the spring with its deep violet colour and stunning scent, but we find it does produce a pretty smattering in the late summer too and sure enough that is what's occurring now. Looking and smelling great. We have a couple on fresh patches of Achillea in bud on short stems, the red Paprika and silver leaved Moonshine. A few of the Asters are beginning to show signs of flowering. Fantastic plants of the mildew resistant Asmo are throwing up plenty of bud, compact and chunky, just beginning to open their pale lilac flowers. Lady in Blue and Rosenwitchel are both also in bud, nice compact plants with colour showing on some.
The massively popular Erigeron karvinskianus Stallone is sprouting plenty of flower buds, full of promise and dainty colours. Both Erodium varieties are in bud and showing a few open flowers, neat and floriferous. Foliage starts to be of interest at this time of year and there are some good shows of colour from the Carex Evergold, Ajuga, Heuchera, Lamium and Euphorbia.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Hairy Bats

Morning all,
Looks like a run of late summer sunshine over the next few days which should provide a lovely run in Autumn. The swallows are beginning to head off, I see reports of big numbers flying over Cornwall and we saw several groups over the fields heading south in the last few days. Talking of things flying about we had an exciting moment last night on our walk home. Across the back of the nursery we saw at least three bats all feeding along the hedgerow. We almost always see one (a pipistrelle) in this spot and have done for years, but to see at least three all together was a first. It was pretty dark and there could have been more, we'll try again tonight a few minutes earlier so our ancient eyes work a bit better and I might try with my glasses too! Not sure where they are roosting, probably the barn on the other side of the road, I know they have frustratingly ignored our bat boxes for years.
Apologies to anyone who may have tried to call us over the last week or two and got cut off, it was nothing you said, just our cordless handsets playing up. The engineers keep coming out to play but disappear again with them sort of working, but not quite. We are going to try again next week, but if you have trouble, do leave a message, or drop us an email, and we will get back to you as soon as we are back in the office using the reliable ones that are tied to the wall.
In theory things should be quietening down by now but we seem to be getting busier. Having got our Green Impact entry in last week we find ourselves with another project to get tied up in the next few days. I can't say what this one is at the moment as it was a bit of a last minute suggestion by someone who thought it might be a valuable exercise. Seemed like a good idea at the time!
My experimental hessian pallet/trolley wraps are on hold while we further test the Mark1 version. I am accumulating plenty of hessian samples and awaiting delivery of bigger stronger needles and thread to start Mark2. I also ordered a handy needle threading device to help the visually challenged and impatient with their efforts. It's quite exciting making stuff that might actually be useful and much cheaper than a lot of other pastimes.

WOODEN BOX RETURNS
If anyone is ready to send back their collection of empty wooden boxes please do let us know. We already have a few on a list which we are going to drop into next time we are in the area. Over the next month or so we would like to collect as many as we can, so we can get them out of your way and cleaned, dried and mended before the cold damp winter arrives. Thanks.

Availability highlights
The late summer flowering Anemones are looking great in the gardens and we have some looking good now, some with bud coming. Anemones are always a tricky one as the natural tendency is for the plants to go tall. looks fab in the garden but not so easy in a pot. We have some stonking September Charm and Honerine Jobert at the moment. Autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium are coming into flower. We have a couple on fresh patches of Achillea in bud on short stems, the red Paprika and silver leaved Moonshine.
A few of the Asters are beginning to show signs of flowering. Fantastic plants of the mildew resistant Asmo are throwing up plenty of bud, compact and chunky, just beginning to open their pale lilac flowers. Lady in Blue and Rosenwitchel are both also in bud, nice compact plants with colour showing on some. The ever popular Monch is also there with bud showing and the odd open flower.
We have a fresh batch of the pretty Foam Flower Tiarella wherii in bud and flower. They will make an attractive display for several more weeks yet before resting overwinter, ready to do it all again next spring.
Our summer/autumn flowering mini garden Chrysanthemums are on the list again this week. They produce masses of small flowers on naturally bushy, fairly compact plants and usually flower until the first frosts. Only a few varieties left now, all in bud with colour about to burst. We have a few trays of fresh Tradescantia (Innocense and Rubra) looking good and having a late summer flush of bud. Viola Konigin Charlotte traditionally flowers in the spring with its deep violet colour and stunning scent, but we find it does produce a pretty smattering in the late summer too and sure enough that is what's occurring now. The pretty Viola Rebecca are showing another flush of bud and flower, looking smart.
We have a few left of our Verbena bonariensis in bud, another one that wants to go tall but we have managed to keep them in check for a bit longer but they won't hang about long. The massively popular Erigeron karvinskianus Stallone is sprouting plenty of flower buds, full of promise and dainty colours. Both Erodium varieties are in bud and showing a few open flowers, neat and floriferous. Foliage starts to be of interest at this time of year and there are some good shows of colour from the Carex Evergold, Ajuga, Heuchera, Lamium and Euphorbia.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Cool and Hairy

Morning all
Where did August go? Everyone is suddenly going away and the cool nights are making me jumpy that we need to get more stock potted ready for over wintering. It was only a week or two ago and we were baking in the sun and wondering if it would ever end.
The cooler weather is quite a relief here, we are getting so much more done. Potting is bowling along and tunnel clearances are clearing the nursery up a bit which makes us feel better. I've had a tidy up of my Green Impact evidence submission for this year and sent that off before the deadline which is quite a weight off my mind. You can go through these things so many times updating bit's and bobs, changing the wording, adding another image or spreadsheet because you never really stop
adapting and hopefully improving with sustainability but at some point you have to draw a line. It is drawn, no going back now, we just have to wait for the assessors to come to check it all out in a few weeks time. I think we are on for a gold award this year as long as I don't get caught out as being a bit too creative with my evidence! I missed out on a few points by not getting a new A+ fridge in time, but the old one is a family heirloom and Caroline is struggling to come to terms with pensioning it off after all these years. We have checked that the temp control is accurate and the electric consumption and both are not too bad, any savings made would take quite a few years to make up the cost of a new one. Mind you it would be good to have a white one rather than a rust spotted one! I will have another nudge in a few weeks.

WOODEN BOX RETURNS
If anyone is ready to send back their collection of empty wooden boxes please do let us know. We already have a few on a list which we are going to drop into next time we are in the area. Over the next month or so we would like to collect as many as we can, so we can get them out of your way and cleaned, dried and mended before the cold damp winter arrives. Thanks.
Availability highlights
The late summer flowering Anemones are looking great in the gardens and we have some looking good now. Some with bud coming and a nice fresh batch of the deep pink Hadspen Abundance showing colour on reasonably short plants. Anemones are always a tricky one as the natural tendency is for the plants to go tall. looks fab in the garden but not so easy in a pot.
A few of the Asters are beginning to show signs of flowering. Fantastic plants of the mildew resistant Asmo are throwing up plenty of bud, compact and chunky, just beginning to open their pale lilac flowers. Lady in Blue and Rosenwitchel are both also in bud, nice compact plants with colour showing on some. The ever popular Monch is also there with bud showing and the odd open flower.
We have a fresh batch of the pretty Foam Flower Tiarella wherii in bud and flower. They will make an attractive display for several more weeks yet before resting overwinter, ready to do it all again next spring.
Our summer/autumn flowering mini garden Chrysanthemums are on the list again this week. They produce masses of small flowers on naturally bushy, compact plants and usually flower until the first frosts. All varieties are in now in bud with colour about to burst.
We have a few trays of fresh Tradescantia (Innocense and Rubra) looking good and having a late summer flush of bud and flower. We don't have many. Viola Konigin Charlotte traditionally flowers in the spring with its deep violet colour and stunning scent, but we find it does produce a pretty smattering in the late summer too and sure enough that is what's occurring now. The pretty Viola Rebecca are showing another flush of bud and flower, looking smart.
We have a few left of our Verbena bonariensis in bud, another one that wants to go tall but we have managed to keep them in check for a bit longer but they won't hang about long. Nice vigorous batches of the compact Geum Cooky and Koi are both showing bright and eye catching colour.
The massively popular Erigeron karvinskianus Stallone is sprouting plenty of flower buds, full of promise and dainty colours. Both Erodium varieties are in bud and showing a few open flowers, neat and floriferous. Foliage starts to be of interest at this time of year and there are some good shows of colour from the Carex Evergold, Ajuga, Heuchera, Lamium and Euphorbia.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

It's a hairy wrap

Morning all,
I'm not quite sure which way to turn. It's Saturday morning and there is no potting team in for the first time since early April. We still have plenty to do but I'm hoping we can cope now in 5 days rather than six. It will be good for all those involved to have a bit of a break but it seem eerily quiet but definitely more relaxed, time to get started on my back log of jobs that I haven't been able to get done over the hectic and overheated summer. We've only got until the end of the month to tidy up our Green Impact input for this year's assessment, I think I'm nearly there, just got to bundle together a bit more evidence to back up the commentary which is mostly about adding a few photos which should be simple. With a bit of luck we will get a visit from the assessors this year, last year I may have overdone the evidence in my enthusiasm and put them off coming to see it firsthand.
Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at the use of the stretchy pallet wrap that we use to hold together stacks of boxes and trays around the nursery, so they don't fall over. It works really well but it is definitely only single use and when using it, on the nursery for moving stuff about it seems a bit wasteful. I had a look on the internet and found a few tough reusable plastic pallet wraps, incorporating solid and mesh plastics, a couple of poles, belts, buckles and Velcro. Looked
good, but at $150+ dollars each, a bit pricy for us when we are not looking at daily reuse. So the challenge was set to design a more economical, practical, but sustainable alternative. The basic concept is to use hessian, thick bamboo cane and a couple of bungee loop ties. All components are cheap and easily replaceable should there be a breakage and making them is fairly simple. The prototype is done and the first trials are looking ok. We've had it out in the sun and rain and reused it several times over the last week and it looks ok. It is adjustable in length, to a degree, and has component costs of well under £5 for a 3ft deep wrap. Material costs obviously rise for a deeper version, such as one that might fit round a trolley or two, and we may have to beef up the hessian weight to add strength and longevity to it, depending on how the trials go. We are going to knock
up a few more to start using on site to see what issues are going to crop up and I've ordered some more material samples to test the heavier hessians and taller wraps so watch this space. I probably should keep this a secret so I can make millions when everyone wants one, but to be honest knowing my design skills I doubt it will cut the mustard in the end, well not enough to charge for.


Here is our 'Hairy Wrap No1' so you can marvel at our high tech solution! 



Availability highlights
Lobelia speciosa Scarlet are in colour again, compact bushy plants looking lush. Our summer/autumn flowering mini garden Chrysanthemums are on the list this week. They produce masses of small flowers on naturally bushy, compact plants and usually flower until the first frosts. All varieties are in now in bud and colour is peeping out on the Branbeach White and Bransky Plum with others not far behind.
Nice vigorous batches of the compact Geum Cooky and Koi are both showing with bright and eye catching colour. The massively popular Erigeron karvinskianus Stallone is sprouting plenty of flower buds, full of promise and dainty colours. Plenty in stock with fresh batches always on the go. They will flower for ages yet. We had flowers on ours outside the back door until Christmas last year.
Fresh batches of ever popular Salvia are back on line, looking fabulous, budding up well and showing colour. All varieties looking great, with Caradonna possibly the most dramatic with its more upright habit, dark coloured stems and deep violet flowers. It's a beauty. Both Erodium varieties are in bud and showing a few open flowers, neat and floriferous. The hot and summery Salvia Hot lips are still going strong and have suddenly started turning two tone in colour again after a rather red flowering session during the heat of the summer.
The compact and floriferous Coreopsis Illico are now producing plenty of bud and a bit of colour, but only a few left. A few of the Asters are beginning to show signs of flowering. Fantastic plants of the mildew resistant Asmo are throwing up plenty of bud, compact and chunky, just beginning to open their pale lilac flowers. One of the earliest and most popular Aster varieties is Flora's Delight which are budding and showing colour already, Viola Konigin Charlotte traditionally flowers in the spring with its deep violet colour and stunning scent, but we find it does produce a pretty smattering in the late summer too and sure enough that is what's occurring now. We have a few Geum Totally Tangerine this week, the odd bud appearing on very strong plants. A new one to us but it was
recommended and I couldn't resist.
Foliage starts to be of interest at this time of year and there are some good shows of colour from the Carex Evergold, Ajuga, Heuchera, Lamium and Euphorbia. E. Tiny Tim is a new one to us this year, a tidy tight habit with bronzed foliage and the E. x Martinii looks fab.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Blank and Hairy

Morning
Another nice drop of rain yesterday and last night and a lovely fresh and bright morning. This is how summer should be. I've been able to dial down the irrigation a bit this week and many of the plants are looking quite relieved at the lower temperatures. The farm are slightly frustrated that the rain came when it did as they had less than a day left of the main harvest which would just have left the later crops like linseed to do in a few weeks. They may get a chance today if it dries off enough and get it in before tomorrow which looks pretty damp down here. Although we are on thin chalk soil here which drains quickly, the sub soil still holds on to plenty of moisture and the water tables haven't dropped too far despite the scorching summer so there are only a few very poor yields and the rest isn't too bad. That's one advantage of growing the wide range of crops and varieties that they do. Life is more complex but it spreads the risk. In a good 'normal' summer the main harvest does well to finish by the August bank holiday so to finish now is nearly a record. I think it was 76 when they finished by the end of July but the farm was a bit smaller then and less varied in its crops. Anyway it will be a relief to all to see it safely in without any drying to do, just the panic to follow to sow the next lot!
Our harvest continues will plants still rolling out looking great. We are well into potting next Spring's crops now with a bit more time on our hands. We are never quite as far along with it as I would like and we only need a cool dewy morning like today and I start to panic that autumn and winter aren't far away. I'm looking at my log pile and thinking that I need to get that restocked especially after visiting a friend who had a monster stack all ready to go. Definite case of log envy.
We are coming up to the deadline for entering all our sustainable achievements in the local Green Impact scheme we belong to. It's all online and fairly easy to enter the info but the number of categories' to fill in is a bit daunting at first. I've had a couple of goes this week and broken the back of it but an email came round yesterday to remind us of the deadline and ranked all the local entrants for the amount of points they had scored. Apparently it is all very close but we were only forth so that spurred me back into action. In theory this is not a competitive event, we are all just doing our bit, but it's a bit like yoga which is also meant to be none judgmental or competitive you can't help yourself at times. My downward dog is pretty good and I do a brilliant Shavasana, mind you I've always been good at lying on my back with my eyes shut, and making by mind go blank is only a tiny step from everyday life!
Availability highlights
Lobelia speciosa varieties are in colour again, compact bushy plants in a range of colours, looking lush. A fresh crop of the compact and floriferous Coreopsis Illico are now producing plenty of bud and a bit of colour. Nice vigorous batches of the compact Geum Cooky and Koi are both showing bright and eye catching colour.
The massively popular Erigeron karvinskianus Stallone is sprouting plenty of flower buds, full of promise and dainty colours. Fresh batches of ever popular Salvia are back on line, looking fabulous, budding up well and showing colour. All varieties looking great, with Caradonna possibly the most dramatic with its more upright habit, dark coloured stems and deep violet flowers. It's a beauty.
Both Erodium varieties are in bud and showing a few open flowers, neat and floriferous.
The hot and summery Salvia Hot lips are still going strong and have suddenly started turning two tone in colour again after a rather red flowering session over the last few weeks. Not sure if the slightly cooler temperatures have caused the change but it's like looking at a different plant!
A few of the Asters are beginning to show signs of flowering. Fantastic plants of the mildew resistant Asmo are throwing up plenty of bud, compact and chunky, just beginning to open their pale lilac flowers. One of the earliest and most popular Aster varieties is Flora's Delight which are budding and showing colour already,
Viola Konigin Charlotte traditionally flowers in the spring with its deep violet colour and stunning scent, but we find it does produce a pretty smattering in the late summer too and sure enough that is what's occurring now.
Our summer/autumn flowering mini garden Chrysanthemums are on the list this week. They produce masses of small flowers on naturally bushy, compact plants and usually flower until the first frosts. All varieties are in now in bud and I noticed one bud opening this morning on the Branbeach White. We have a few Geum Totally Tangerine this week, the odd bud appearing on very strong plants. A new one to us but it was recommended and I couldn't resist.
Foliage starts to be of interest at this time of year and there are some good shows of colour from the Carex Evergold, Ajuga, Heuchera, Lamium and Euphorbia. Euphorbia Tiny Tim is a new one to us this year, a tidy tight habit with bronzed foliage.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Hairy Heatwave

Morning all,
Sorry I missed last week's news, I was rather overcome with emotion at the arrival of some cooler temperatures and a lovely day and night of rain. It took me quite by surprise that I was so affected, I don't think I quite appreciated how stressed I was getting with the relentless heat and lack of precipitation. I took full advantage and spent the entire weekend getting stuck into those jobs that were too hot to cope with a day or two before. It was great, the rain was beating on the tunnel roof and I was able to wear a shirt, sweat shirt and a coat and be perfectly comfortable. Seems like a distant memory again now we are back into the 30's, but hopefully it is going to cool again in a few days.
It seems that this summers dry hot weather and the super hot temperatures in Europe are perhaps focussing a lot of people's attention on climate change and what could be the implications of more frequent weather events like this. The dairy industry is struggling, some of the arable crops this summer are appalling and the veg farms are warning of crop shortages and price rises. Guy Watson who started and now helps run the Riverford organic veg box scheme writes a piece each week to accompany their delivery and the panic setting in at the sustained pressure on the crops, really brings the situation home. The reservoirs on their farms are running out, newly planted crops are struggling to get away and the established crops not yielding as they should. Even if the rain comes there will still be knock-on effects for months to come. With the huge extra interest this year in single use plastics on top of all this, are we actually going to get a more mainstream reaction by the public and industry to look at sustainability with some urgency rather than paying it lip service as most have done in the past. I do hope so and I hope we are not too late.
Anyway back here in the exciting world of hairy nursery life, this week I am feeling very fulfilled (it doesn't take much). After a couple of weeks of blocked pipe-work in a certain very inaccessible and undesirable area, I dismantled and fitted a new more easily maintained system with a super flow and no leaks. It took three frustrating goes to get all the right sized pipe, fittings and universal connectors plus a couple of new bottle traps but I got there in the end. What a relief, in so many ways!
Despite the heat we are ploughing on trying to keep on top of the orders, tunnel clearing and potting, productivity is suffering a bit, we just can't do anything as quickly in this heat and a few plants are not liking it either. However we can't complain too much at least we are able to keep most crops watered and growing, and our temperatures are nothing like the levels not too far away in Europe.
Must go, I've got the potting to finish and the watering-in to get done.
Availability highlights
A fresh crop of the compact and floriferous Coreopsis Illico are now producing plenty of bud.
Nice vigorous batches of the compact Geum Cooky and Koi are both showing bright and eye catching colour. Only available a few weeks each year, we have just a few Platycodon Astra Blue left. This blue Balloon Flower is a joy to behold but a bit of a pain to grow neatly in a pot, hence the short production runs. Get in quick if you fancy some before they are gone.
The massively popular Erigeron karvinskianus Stallone is sprouting plenty of flower buds, full of promise and dainty colours. Fresh batches of ever popular Salvia are back on line, looking fabulous, budding up well and showing some colour. All varieties looking great, with Caradonna possibly the most dramatic with its more upright habit, dark coloured stems and deep violet flowers. It's a beauty.
Both Erodium varieties are in bud and showing a few open flowers, neat and floriferous.
The hot and summery Salvia Hot lips are still going strong and have suddenly started turning two tone in colour again after a rather red flowering session over the last few weeks. Not sure if the slightly cooler temperatures have caused the change but it's like looking at a different plant!
A few of the Asters are beginning to show signs of flowering. Fantastic plants of the mildew resistant Asmo are throwing up plenty of bud, compact and chunky, opening into pale lilac flowers very soon. One of the earliest and most popular Aster varieties is Flora's Delight which are budding and showing colour already, Viola Konigin Charlotte traditionally flowers in the spring with its deep violet colour and stunning scent, but we find it does produce a pretty smattering in the late summer too and sure enough that is what's occurring now.
Eucomis are throwing up their creamy yellow flower stalks. What a delightful description for quite a dramatic plant. Our summer/autumn flowering mini garden Chrysanthemums are on the list this week. They produce masses of small flowers on naturally bushy, compact plants and usually flower until the first frosts. All varieties are in now in tight bud. We have a few Geum Totally Tangerine this week, no bud as yet but very strong plants. A new one to us but it was recommended and I couldn't resist.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.