Monday, 22 August 2011

Morning all,

Plenty of weather last week. We measured over 50mm of rain here on Thursday, it was wet. The drains just couldn’t cope with the volume of water and there was water everywhere. Luckily as we are on a slope and thin chalky soil so it doesn’t take long to soak away and the next morning the sun was out and you wouldn’t have believed it had happened. Hopefully there was not too much damage down in Dorset where it was even worse. I was at a meeting near Swanage on Thursday and drove through the worst of it which was exciting but a little scary, the power of nature to create chaos so quickly is humbling.

The meeting was our quarterly gathering of our NBIS group (Nursery Business Improvement Scheme) in which we look at our relative performances, analyse a few figures and focus on specialist topics to try and make things better. It’s always an inspiring session starting with a close check-up on the local hostelry for lunch to get us warmed up. The discussion of our mistakes and successes over the past few months is very honest, refreshing, and therapeutic. It is the horticultural equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous and the key thing to getting it to work for everyone is that key moment when you are able to face the group and admit ‘I am a nurseryman, I make it up as I go along, I don’t make any real money, I work ridiculous hours, I need help but it is what I do.’ Once you get over the embarrassment hurdle and you get to hear of everyone else’s problems it is much easier to make real improvements. Everyone is insecure and a bit frightened of life out there, we all just find different ways to hide it and sometimes finding a sympathetic ear on a similar wavelength is just what we need to push us onwards and upwards. Watch out for those ears.

A very unusual feeling at present. Southampton FC always have rubbish starts to the season but here we are riding high on top of the championship table with four wins out of four. We only got promotion at the end of last season and this was a little unexpected. We always start the season full of hope, which usually lasts about 45 minutes so we are not quite sure what to think at the moment, we are very pleasantly dazed. We got so carried away that we have entered the Lowaters Nursery 5-a-side football in late September, a decision I hope not to regret as I haven’t kicked a ball for many years. Hopefully some of our youngsters will prop me up and it won’t be too embarrassing.

Eco News

Turbines have been running for a few weeks now, but the weather hasn’t been very windy yet. We also had a set up problem with one turbine which needed another visit from the installers to adjust some of the sensors. There are several safety measures in place which involve various sensors and computer controlled cut-out/ braking procedures and we suspect they weren’t quite right on installation. It ran for a couple of days before registering a fault and we then lost several days output from the one turbine until it was reset. It seems to be running fine now so hopefully that will be it. Since August 1st until this morning (21st) we have averaged generation of 145 units a day (would have been 175 if all three going) and we are aiming for 240 units as a daily average through the year. Not too bad considering the fairly still weather. We have had one brisk days wind when we generated just over 400 units and I have seen an individual turbine producing at close to its maximum output of just over 12 kW an hour although only for a very short burst.

Originally we were hoping to generate the same amount of electricity as we use and this we are close to achieving already as we have managed to reduce a little further our consumption (replacement air source heat pump which is more efficient than the 7 year old unit it replaced). Our daily use since Aug 1st has been 195 units, so at a rate of 175/day generation we aren’t far short.

I have managed to break into my You Tube account and put on a video of one of our turbines being lifted into position if anyone fancies a look. There is one of the turbines running too.

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.

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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