Monday, 24 May 2010

We are supplying the charity Thrive who use gardening to change lives, with delightful boxes of hairiness. 

Why not make a donation of a Plant a Difference Box to enable them to send a box of full of ready-to-plant baby vegetables, herbs or perennial plants directly to disabled gardeners' homes so they can have a go at gardening and discover the benefits which it can bring to their lives.

One in five people in the UK are living with a disability that they were born with, gained as they age, or as a result of an illness or accident.

Gardening can bring profound change, from improvements in physical or psychological health to adjustments in beliefs, attitudes or behaviours to the transformation of skills, knowledge and abilities.
Yet another great week and a marked change in the weather too. We seem to have moved from late winter to high summer in a week. Still at least it’s due to cool down again fairly quickly next week which should be a bit easier. Gone are the vests and double fleece wearing and bring on the flouncy shirts. Anticipation is already building for the first ‘outing’ of my legendary flowery piece that I wore in the heat of last summer. Having bolstered my case by expressing my confidence in my own sexuality, I am now duty bound to get it out again when the heat builds up this year, although this time with the added expectations of all those who missed out on it last year (luckily it was a very short summer).

Meanwhile the sun coming out and the temperature rising produces the usual irrigation crisis, it always seems to happen when you need the supply most. This time one of the main pumps burst its main seal, tripping out the electric supply and rendering itself inoperable. A man has been to assess it and we need a new pump and pressure vessel due to old age and general fatigue (know how it feels). Not too expensive and luckily we do have a back-up system although pressures are a bit low by the end of the day.

Printer hassle again in the office, with a paper jam error message. Remove paper (stopped in fuser unit), prints one or ten sheets then error repeats. Change all consumables one by one with other printer and think it’s cured but then goes wrong again. Take apart and clean out with air gun, works for 6 hrs then stops again. Now getting a bit cross. Phone consumable supplier, very helpful but never heard of this one before (we always have the errors that have never been heard of before). He gave me the OKI tech support number and the chap there also hadn’t heard of it before but went through a load of possibilities and gave me a number for a printer mender (out of warranty by 3 months). The likely call out charges before time and parts could have made this expensive so I checked the price of a new one. They are currently less than £600 plus £100 cash back, 3 year warranty and a free sat nav. The consumables inside are worth £600+ even when they only fill the toner 1/3 full! This gave me the confidence to take it apart for a closer look. To cut a long story short I sorted it by freeing up a tiny flappy bit which was intermittently getting stuck with one squirt of WD40. Sorted, although I still can’t believe the price of a new one, it is so tempting to chuck away and start again, but what a waste of resources.

Eco Update

Wind turbine planning app has been processed and is now being considered. All the details and dates etc are on the Winchester City Council website and there is space there to send in supportive (or not) comments on the application. If you would like to take a look follow this link;

It’s quite interesting to see the lack of detail in the councils published details, there is much more in our stuff on our website. They have put a scale photo montage of the scale of the turbines in comparison to a big one and a pylon which does indicate nicely how small they are. They are also only notifying by letter, ourselves and our two immediate neighbours which was a surprise. Consultation ends on the 16th June and decision due on 7th June! (I think they mean July) Let’s see what happens now. Suddenly it seems real.

Nature notes

Baby birds all over the place, lots of wagtails crashing about in the tunnels.

Don't forget to do your bit. Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Monday, 17 May 2010

Good Morning,
Although sales volumes are lower, it is still astonishingly busy here and the promise of a spell of warmer weather should keep things moving along nicely. We are in that slightly scary period of the season when the amount of stock to pot gets critical. It is so tempting after a period of high demand to get on and pot anything green or remotely plant like, but we know a change in weather and the changing seasons can seriously knock back the sales volumes and we could get caught with a nursery full of stock with no home. Both herb and perennial sales went on well into, and in fact, right through the summer on selected lines last year, so we hope this will happen again, the interest in all things green certainly still seems to be there. I suppose as usual a lot will depend on the weather. At least now we have had some income to get over the cash-flow peak to pay for the extra input needed, which makes life easier.

Excitement has been building this week with the imminent arrival of a replacement toilet block on the nursery. We hired a temporary set 10 years ago which had gradually slid into a rather sad condition, so with the postponement of our barn conversion we have decided to get in another temporary set to recover a degree of comfort and dignity! It was still quite a shock to see the old block flying up onto the back of the lorry and many a tear was chocked back by some staff with the memories triggered by the event! There were all the tales of how things used to be, before the arrival of the old block, it’s surprising how the loss of a knackered old bit of kit triggers all this stuff. The new set arrived on Friday so I’ve spent a jolly weekend plumbing it all back in again ready for start of play on Monday. I had all the usual hiccups with a ‘simple’ job like this. The old set had all services entering in one corner (electric, water and outflow) but the new one had them going into 3 separate corners (with different fittings), the doors are in different positions and the whole thing is higher off the floor. This has meant lots of trench digging, re-plumbing and visits to builders merchants, but at least it has meant a trip off the nursery! Naturally everything fitted together perfectly. I managed to flood the outside with a leaking universal water fitting joining our plastic water pipe to the copper of the new block and flood the inside with the first trial flushing (one loo outflow got disconnected in transit). Luckily everything was pretty clean so a full change of clothing and a shower was all that was needed to clean me up. I suppose we ought to celebrate it’s arrival on Monday, perhaps we will have a toast with some lime juice and chocolate doughnuts!

Eco Update

Wind turbine planning app is still waiting to be processed. Apparently they are still getting through the March applications and ours didn’t go in until very early April. We will just have to be patient. Having heard nothing from the locals for a bit, we did get a request for a site visit yesterday from a lovely lady from the local village. She has friends coming over for the bank holiday weekend and they thought it would make an interesting visit for them all. I wonder if I should bake a cake?

Nature notes

4 House martins are here and the swallows are sitting on the nest in the donkey shed.

Don't forget to do your bit. Have a good week,

from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Sunday, 9 May 2010

What a week. We were hoping for a lull in proceedings to allow us to catch up a bit, but despite doing a Monday shift we didn’t get as far as we had hoped. We have even more staff in (when not off ill) and another starting on Monday, but it just seems that everything was against us to get very far.
Sales took quite a dip after the poor weather last weekend and I suspect will continue to be limited with the continuing coolness. We are quite relieved as it does give an opportunity to catch up, at least in theory!
The week started badly with a virulent cold sweeping the nursery (hitting me particularly hard!), I haven’t can a cold for ages and I usually save them up for holidays anyway, so this one was a surprise and the head numbing features make running the nursery even more of a challenge, although Caroline says she hasn’t noticed any difference.

The other weeks hiccups included the potting machine dying just when we need it most. Every now and then the wear in the chains reaches a point when the adjusters can’t cope and one of the chains jumps a cog or two.  This messes up the timing of the drill and makes it start drilling into the machine rather than the compost in the pots! So potting comes to a standstill while I dismantle everything, remove the chain and shorten it by removing a link. All went swimmingly until I tried to refit the chain which was now about 2mm too short to fit back together, oh fiddlesticks. After much stretching, nut loosening, hammer hitting and words of encouragement we got it back together, only to find I had knocked over the crate where I had put the chain link retaining bits and they had disappeared somewhere on the compost covered floor! That took another 20 minutes with a magnet being waved over the debris before they were reclaimed. Anyway it’s all up and running again now.
Later that day I managed to get bitten by a local dog just above the knee, when redelivering some post (I ignored the sign on the gate!) and ended up with a hole in my best work trousers (the least ink covered) and a leaky sore leg. Looking on the bright side, at least the dog wasn’t taller.
Other than the wonderful nursery life this week, the highlight was going to see The Beat in concert at Salisbury Art Centre. For those too young to remember they were a ska band from the late 70’s early 80’s (Mirror in the Bathroom, Best Friend, Too Nice to Talk Too among there many hits) and they were brilliant. Lots of sad old folk there reliving their past and judging by some of the outfits and kids in tow some still living in the past! The support band were a very talented young ska band, attired in a more up to date fashion and I must admit to desperately wanting to answer the call for any requests with ‘Yes, pull your trousers up’!

Eco Update

Still no news on wind turbine planning, but they have cashed the application fees so it must be in there somewhere.

Nature notes

House martins have been spotted, arrived on Saturday, so summer is here.

Don't forget to do your bit. Have a good week.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Rain at last. We were getting very dusty down here and a drop of rain is great for freshening everything up. Not brilliant for gardening today, but at least not everyone has gone to the beach this bank holiday.

Just a short one this week as I’m in a bit of a rush and we are going to make the most of a day of no work shifts, and I have got my mum & dad down for the weekend so we need to spend some quality time with them. So anyway, I’ve just spent a couple of hours doing the stock update, then it’s a few hours label counting together, followed by a seed sowing session and trolley wrapping! Hoping to manage a half day and finish by 5.00! They usually come down at this time of year to deliver our bedding plant display to go in the troughs outside the office so are luckily quite used to mucking in at a busy time. We have a big gang in on Monday to get the week started as soon as we can so hopefully the 4 day week won’t be too upsetting.
Hope you all enjoy your bank holiday as well.

Eco Update

So busy this week I missed my PLATO Sustain meeting, so unable to boast about our energy savings and recycling improvements, let alone let them know about my podcast exploits of last week, although that’s probably best kept between you & me.

Wind turbine planning application is in, hurrah. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get it all processed and the public get their chance to have a final say. Overall the responses so far have been very positive which is heartening in itself.

Nature notes

Ducks and a Moorhen seem to be attending the nursery regularly again, although not seen any nesting evidence. I suspect the Mallards are evictees from Crawley pond, where only ducks of the sufficient class are allowed. A stunning thatched duck house has been erected on the village pond in the last few months (I suspect that it is actually a property investment and before long it will be on the market as a small contained thatched residence in a lovely rural location) so meanwhile we are supplying the duck version of affordable housing.