Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Morning all,

After a disappointing few days on the wind front we are making up for it this morning with over 20 units an hour since 8.00. This will make up a lot if it carries on over the next day or two. First excitement of each day is to pull back the curtains to see if they are turning. Yes I am old.

So now the turbines are sorted, what’s next? Well we are still adding to the irrigation efficiency with our evapo-sensor control system to set up, which should reduce water use by adjusting application rates to each days weather changes more accurately than I can, and the new variable speed pump to plumb in which is energy efficient and will make irrigating quicker and more versatile. Then I’m off to the Four Oaks trade show in a couple of weeks to check out LED lighting for the lab growth room, bio-mass boilers for our propagation needs and any other helpful stuff I can find. We can’t do it all straight away as the cash flow is so tight but it gives us some things to aim for. We are still trialling box inserts for the wooden display trays we use to make it easier to maintain the stock in their display areas. They are very shallow inserts which just hold the irrigation water around the pot base a little longer to allow the water to absorb before draining slowly away. They are looking very promising, we are just fine tuning the sizing and longevity before taking the plunge.

Started shopping for a replacement 7.5 tonne van this week. The old one is getting more expensive to keep on the road and the newer models are that bit more efficient and cleaner running. Not only that but the new emission controls in London come into effect next year and we need a cleaner vehicle to avoid the huge penalty charges involved. I know it will be another added burden on the cash flow but we can’t manage without a reliable workhorse at the centre of a busy spring. We can always resort to hire vehicles in an emergency but having a purpose built van to hand is essential if we are to get everything done effectively during the busy times. The cost of using specialist trolley carriers is getting very expensive too with charges ranging from £45/trolley for very local delivery to £85 + fuel surcharges for East Anglia, Cornwall and the North Midlands. These costs are going to have a bigger impact on trade overall as the years pass and costs continue to rise. Buying from local suppliers is going to have a real financial benefit to all sides in the future, something to bear in mind as you plan for the medium term. ‘Free delivery’ doesn’t exist, someone pays and at the moment that will be the local customer rather than the distant one and that can’t continue as it simply isn’t fair or sustainable.

Off on our summer break on Sunday which I am looking forward too after a long sales season, turbine excitement and recent troubles. There is nothing like a day trip to the Isle of Wight! It has become an annual pilgrimage to sun worship on the beach with a sandy sandwich and a small beer. OK it did rain most of the day last year and I didn’t get out of my coat but we stuck it out, as long as we are with friends it’s a great day out. A change is as good as a rest and besides, I get a little holiday every day when I get on the web cam over looking Porthmeor beach in St Ives each tea time when everyone has gone home.

Eco News

Virtually all our stock now has MET 52 incorporated in the compost to give 2 season protection against the dreaded vine weevil. It is a bio-insecticide (a fungus) that infects the larvae in the compost as it grows. It has been shown to slow the effect of a few other soil living pests as well such as sciarid fly, onion fly, cabbage root fly and thrips so it could turn out to be a really useful and safe asset to have around. Naturally it doesn’t come cheap but with such beneficial results we should get a higher quality plant overall and less wastage from plant loses which will help cover that extra cost.

I had advanced notification from Floramedia (label printers) that they will be offering a wooden label printing service very soon. They have been doing a few for one big customer but are now able to offer it more widely for anyone interested. You may want to sit down before you read the price list. Still it is great to see more use of natural materials being taken up.

Nature notes

Biological rabbit control in full effect this morning. Spare Cat picked off one off the biggest ones and having dragged it off has now consumed most of it and can’t find a comfortable position in which to sleep it off. I’ve got to move him in a minute and I’m a bit anxious that something is going to give.

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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