Now been back on site for a week after our annual break to sunny St Ives and just trying to get back in sync with reality.
Luckily it is a very quiet time of year so not too much backlog of stuff to catch up on, in fact considering how few of the crew were in there was a huge amount of stuff done. We now have a lovely collection of empty tunnels, cleaned and spruced up all ready for the spring potting to go into, a feat we always dream of each winter but rarely achieve. In the past the demand for space for the overwintered crops or lack of hours has defeated us but with tighter control of stock levels and a decent summer things are looking a lot more sensible. After two very challenging years for everyone we are all hoping for a ‘normal’ 2014 and we are certainly better prepared for it.
St Ives was brilliant, lots of weather, walking, archaeology, waves, arty bits and birding all punctuated with visits from friends and the inevitable associated food and drink. Feeling relaxed and ready for another year but I am going to have to watch consumption levels after an 8lb gain in two weeks! Can’t understand it, I had a salad on the last day.
Although the nursery itself is now relatively quiet other pressures slipped back in place fairly quickly with discussions with the accountants to sort out the annual accounts over last week and a meeting booked with the bank manager to discuss the past season and plans for the winter and the coming season. Oh it’s so good to be back.
On the positive side the new pallet inspired wood store is up and running, and very nearly filled too. The wood burner is running more or less 24/7 now the cooler weather has arrived and for this winter it looks like we have plenty of scavenged fuel to keep it going. So, no central heating yet and hoping to keep it that way for a few weeks yet. I suspect we will have to succumb to pandering some Christmas guests but I can live with that, ‘tis the season to be jolly after all.
Busy day on Monday with the big van in for a service at 7.00 in Southampton, so a nice early start, ending up with a gig at The Joiners, again in Southampton, to see our current favourite Marcus Bonfanti. It’s all go. It’s also review time for our Carbon Smart accreditation and we are hoping to retain our Gold Certificate status although I can’t say we have spent a lot on eco projects this year with a chronic shortage of funds. One slight problem we have is that we started our journey quite a few years ago and we have done most of the things that everyone usually does at the start of these carbon initiatives and it starts to get quite hard to make continual mega strides to improve carbon performance. Hopefully it is the thought that counts and the little steps we continue to make hold equal status.
We had a Nursery Business Improvement Scheme meeting while I was away, but luckily it was at Kernock Plants in Cornwall so I was able to slip away and attend as I was actually the closest nurseryman in the group to the venue. A very impressive nursery to visit with a mega pair of woodchip boilers to heat the glasshouses. One 4 megawatt which had been installed a few years ago and a newer 1Mw one which was installed under the recent Renewable Heat Incentive. The older one had already paid for itself in saved fuel costs and the smaller one with its RHI payments was covering most of the cost of the fuel for both boilers. A very generous incentive to kick start a new market in the UK but which I doubt will hang around for long. I felt wholly inadequate with my weeny wood store in comparison to their huge stock pile of cut logs awaiting chipping and enormous chipping storage barn with moving floor holding, feeding the chips into the boilers. They could use up to 20 tonnes on really cold day! I can see why the poinsettia growers are reducing production to await the installation of this type of boiler to remove a large proportion of their costs and get their crop back into profit. Just a slight concern my end that over generous incentives can encourage inefficient energy use but I suspect that once the market gets kick started the level of help will drop away quite rapidly as it has on some of the renewable electric generation.
Lots of boxes have been successfully repatriated so thanks for the great response to the appeal I sent out for their return. I know there are still a few out there so please do let us know if you have any ready to collect and we will schedule them in for collection when we are next close by. Alternatively if there aren’t too many we may elect to pick them up on the next delivery in the up and coming spring rush!
Please feel free to continue to keep what you need to keep our stock on display, but a gathering of our boxes used for other displays would be appreciated. If you do love the display boxes and you desperately want to keep up that image for other parts of your plant area then why not consider getting in your own stock of trays. Our supplier is C. Jackson www.cjackson.co.uk/plant_trays.htm and they can make you your own plain or branded/printed trays at a very reasonable cost.
Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries