Monday, 27 June 2011

Phew it’s gone all steamy here with the promise of a couple of days of hot summer in the offing. Luckily for us old folks who have hot flushes at any opportunity it should cool off again pretty quickly but BBQ sales should pick up again.

Potting here for next season is well under way with some of the slower growing lines settling in for a good summers growing. Without the distraction of production for the multiples this year it is great to feel that we are getting things done at the right time and we can concentrate on further improving everything we do. Unfortunately there still don’t seem to be enough hours in the day or days in the week to fit it all in but it’s definitely improving.

Among this week’s distractions was a tour of the nursery and farm organised on Saturday for the local village as their summer ‘do’. It was a great idea to show the villagers, who no longer have very much to do with their immediate local environment, what goes on locally. Several people said how they always wondered what went on under all our tunnels which they drove past every day. It ended up being over-subscribed with over 60 attendees and they all seemed to enjoy it although the kids were well ready for tea by the end. Sometimes it is easy to take what you do for granted forgetting how fascinating it can be for an outsider looking in. Must make more effort to do more.

We are enjoying our usual Glastonbury experience this weekend, a great way to see bands an old fart like me would otherwise miss. The BBC coverage is excellent although seeing more of the smaller stages would be good. Everyone looks to be having a great time which is quite contagious despite the wet and cold on Thursday and Friday. But for me a beer at home, some good ‘live’ music even on tv, home cooking, my own loo, a shower and a comfy bed with clean sheets is just fantastic. I’ve spent the last three weeks caked in mud from all the turbine earth works and trenches and I spend most of the year in the open, so the attraction of paying a fortune to do worse all weekend is lost on me. Long may it continue, there is definitely something very attractive about watching the antics of others having a good time, it’s a bit like the fascination of watching others work.

Eco News

PTT (Pre Turbine Tension) is building here as things sort of come together for the imminent erection of the turbines. Cables are now all in position if not quite all joined together, most trenches are filled in, the grid connection terminal is in and the erection team are primed and ready to go starting on the 4th. The inspection man from Scottish Southern Electric is booked in for the 7th to check all is ok to switch it all on and generate. However with only 5 working days to go we have no date yet for the removal of the overhead supply which has to go before the turbines go up and there is no word yet on the installation arrangements of the special import/export meter needed to measure energy going in and out of the system. We haven’t even been able to tie down contracts for supply and export as they need meter numbers allocating before paperwork can be done and we only have one at the moment, and the supply can’t be connected until contracts of supply are in place. It seems to be really hard to find a way through the maze of departments and teams involved in the energy system and the lack of communication is scary. With each passing day we make a little progress but I have no idea whether it will all come together on time as we get so little feedback from the teams involved despite numerous one way phone calls and messages.

At least we now have the outline contract quotes here even if I can’t understand them. There are lots of new sections in them on which I will have to get clarification but the importing rate looks frightening at the moment. Let’s hope the wind blows a lot!

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries
Our friend at Mabley Green Community Meadow get busy planting in their Hairy Pots, find out more at

Monday, 20 June 2011

I can’t believe it’s been only a week since the party and awards do. Still keep having flash backs but luckily all of them are good ones so far. There is nothing quite like an excuse to get a load of friends together and letting your hair down. In our youth it happened all the time and it only took a few hours to recover, sadly now the opportunities seem far apart and the recovery time runs into days if not weeks. Now it’s nose to the grindstone again to accumulate the necessaries to do it again.

So, lots more done this week with the potting for next year already underway and some more of the debris left from this year’s crops cleared away. We seemed reasonably under control at the start of the week although that can so quickly alter when the unexpected happens. Yes another puncture!
The microprop lab also had a surprise last week with the sudden change in supply plans of a major multiple outlet. Although we don’t supply them directly anymore we do supply young plants to those that do and a change in policy has resulted in a sudden loss of market for tens of thousands of plants. After the initial panic and a little more thought this looks like being in our long term interest after all. The usual scenario has set in of large volume but very low and decreasing margins and with demand for stock from the lab very strong for other stock, we will actually be left with capacity to take advantage of that. There may well be a short term penalty of a dent in the cash flow but it looks ok in the longer term. It is our customer I feel for, as the complete lack of understanding of the big buyers in how the horticultural supply chain works has completely messed up their plans, investments and cash-flow. Hopefully they will pull a new opportunity from the debris but it won’t be easy.

It is nice to see the ground damp again after all that dry weather although for us the timing could have been better. The massive trenching job for the turbines and mains cables has created a bit of a mess in all the wet. We had been hoping to get everything dug in and buried by the end of the week but a combination of weather and more archaeological hold ups has slowed it up a bit. The mains cable and biggest part of the turbine cable are in and mostly buried with just the cable jointing team to come in and do their bit connecting all the various ends together. We have two weeks now to get all the wiring and kit sorted out, foundations backfilled and track repaired to allow the turbine erectors access with a lorry and crane. In theory they could erect each one and commission it in a day to generate electricity although the way the admin is progressing I am struggling to see us having all the contracts and connections complete in time. This may delay commission and the commencement of generation by a few days which would be disappointing but it is just a few days and after waiting two years to get it all together that will be just a minor irritation. You never know it might all fall into place in the next few days, we live in hope.

The archaeologist was back on Monday and Tuesday to see the turbine cable trenches cut into the chalk. We had hoped for a quick run down the hill but complications appeared pretty quickly with the finding of a field boundary ditch followed by more possible ditches. The first one was fairly obviously man-made and he found a burnt flint and a small animal jaw bone in the bottom to prove it but the next four or five dips in the chalk profile on the top of the hill turned out to be natural but had to be checked out. Then there was another man-made ditch and a pit, both with very small shards of pottery (yet to be dated). It was all a bit time consuming but at least he now has some dating evidence of sorts and we were able to get on with putting the cables in eventually. The mains cable trench also showed up three ancient ditch profiles, one of which we already knew about and when we turned to look up the hill we could see the ditches sweep up the hill highlighted in crop markings. We hadn’t noticed them before although Caroline's Dad said that in dry years they had seen the crop marks from the adjacent hill. Hopefully we will be able to get a better idea of who was working and possibly living on our hill when the report comes in, but it does give a real feeling of continuity, history and commitment to working on the nursery. We and the turbines are just another step in the long story of people living their lives on this hill. Sitting on my desk in front of me now is a heat shattered flint I found near the bottom of the furthest trench, possibly used for cooking someone’s dinner on our field over 2,000 years ago.

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A tasty lunch and a flat tummy too - Who could ask for more?
Find out why herbs are some of our best flat tummy friends at

You can even win some of our lovely plants in their super competition, check it out at

Monday, 13 June 2011

Trenching for the cable to carry the green electricity to the grid.
Check us out in our posh togs at The Business Excellence Awards Ceremony....

And the award for Green Innovation goes to......

Very short one this week as it has been a very busy few days and I’m feeling a bit fragile.

Lots of trench digging for power cables this week so plenty of cut pipes and cables short outs to deal with. More to do next week and hopefully cables in and buried by the end of the week. With the current fashion for night-time cable collecting the cables only come on the day they get buried to reduce losses!

On Friday night a gang from the nursery got all dolled up to attend the gala awards dinner at the Winchester Guildhall, everyone turned up looking fantastic, virtually unrecognisable from the usual nursery attire. It was a long and very enjoyable evening and well worth it in the end as we scooped the Green Innovation award for 2011. We made the final of the Business of the Year but missed out on that one. Highlight of the evening happened when we were all gathered together for a group shot for the local paper. All the excited winners huddled together and I felt a reassuring stroking and cupping of my right buttock, I turned expecting to see Caroline but it was the hairdresser who had won the main award. He was a lovely chap but a little forward for my taste. Still nice to know you’ve still got it at my age! Maybe?

Last night was Caroline’s big party night which is the main reason my eyes keep closing and my legs don’t work anymore. We had a great time drinking lots of shandy and dancing the night away to the Ben Waters band. Anyone still not heard Ben play
should checkout his latest CD ‘Boogie for Stu’ which is a tribute album for Ian Stewart who was one of the original Rolling Stones. All the Stones are on the album and proceeds go to the British Heart Foundation, but best of all it is a great recording!

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Monday, 6 June 2011

Yet another eventful week, not sure how we fitted it all in with only 4 days.

We managed to get one of the vans back into the garage again this week. This time it wasn’t for tyres but a suspension issue from a couple of weeks ago when they replaced some parts. We were stopped by a very helpful off duty policeman who pointed out that the van was travelling in a slightly crab-like fashion and perhaps we ought to get it checked out. He was quite right and the garage repositioned the suspension in the right mounting hole and we were cured. So a big thank you to the policeman for helping out and the embarrassed garage for getting us back on the road very quickly, although I’m sure it would have been spotted at the next regular check-up.

I need to press on as I’m due in Stafford for lunch and time is slipping by. So another quick summary of another hectic week. We got our three electric buggies serviced by a pro as they were all in need of a refreshing overhaul of the electric leads and a couple were due a new set of batteries, ouch. They are whizzing about so no excuses for lack of mobility now. We had our ace box making experts in to take a look at making a shallow tray/insert to create a bit of a reservoir in the bottom of the wooden trays as a further watering aid. We are hoping it will hold on to enough water to absorb more thoroughly into the free draining pots on watering rather than running straight away. They are coming up with several options and we are hoping to trial some very shortly.

On Friday we are attending the local business awards dinner to see if we have pushed any of the right buttons with the judges. We are finalists in the green innovation category for our product, overall business sustainability and the turbine project which will be the biggest of its kind in the area (although it is weeny really). We have also been selected as a finalist in the overall business of the year which was great, although we are up against some very stiff competition. We will enjoy the evening as an excuse to dress up with a few of the staff who we rarely see all poshed up. Luckily we are not particularly competitive so it will be nice to just to have some little bit of recognition for what we are trying to do.

The wind turbine foundations got finished over the week which was great, lots of digging, steel weaving and concreting. I got the irrigation system programming sorted so it is almost back in automatic mode which is a relief as it means we can get off the nursery again for a several hours at a time, even if the sun's out and we can water out of hours which means fewer of us getting wet!

Eco news
Foundations in and looking good and I'm sure that you have already spotted the pics! Trenching for cable should start next week for a couple of weeks, then we hang on for the grid folk to fit the new transformer/substation thing and the turbines to arrive in early July. It’s all go at last.

Nature notes

The nursery and garden are all full of newly fledged youngsters, swallows, greenfinches, goldfinches, starlings, great tits, jackdaws. It all seems to have happened this week.

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Friday, 3 June 2011

1st foundation kit

 1st foundation kit install

Concrete done 1st site


Concrete in 1st site 2

Digging in lightning wire