Monday, 23 December 2013

Morning all,
Merry Christmas to all. Just got back from the grocery shop and it looks like all hell is breaking loose already. We tend to go in early in the morning and have the shop to ourselves which is just right, but no such luck this morning. Doesn’t everyone else realise that this is our shop and this is our time for a quiet wander round. Lashed out on a packet of crisps and a small pack of smoked salmon as a Christmas treat, so that’s us all set up for the festive break.
Not brilliantly festive weather at the moment and more wind and rain forecast for the coming week, still at least it gets it out of the way before the spring and pushes up the turbine output.
We started consumption of the nursery cake early this year as we are a bit thin on the ground at the moment but we seem to have cleared up most of it already, delicious stuff. The decorations are back up and looking suitably traditionally tacky and well loved, another great recycling success.
Life on the nursery goes on with some great work cutting back the summer grown stock, preparing for the upcoming spring and getting some essential maintenance sorted. Greg has spent most of the last couple of weeks doing some vital but invisible work re-securing the tunnel covers. We had noticed over the last couple of months that in the strong winds the tunnel covers have not been splitting but the mounting rails have been detaching from the tunnel sides instead. This is a new issue for us and turned out to be due to the screws rusting away. I have invested in a large number of replacement screws and Greg has been removing the old ones one at a time and slipping in a new one. Sounds simple enough but with almost 3km of tunnel sides to secure and 8,000+ screws to get through it takes a while. All the oldest fixings are done now and it’s a shame the visible results are not more impressive for the effort put in, but at least I can sleep in relative peace now as the gales batter the nursery. Don’t we seem to be getting a lot of particularly strong weather systems at the moment?
Shortest day today so the evenings will be drawing out tomorrow which means spring is not too far away, hurrah. We are having a big push on the production of stock in bud or flower in 2014 and hopefully the 90+ extra lines in the catalogue will help us fill those shelves with exciting, colourful and quick selling stock. We are off to a great start with the Snakehead Fritillaries this spring. We had given up on these over the last couple of seasons after mega mouse attacks had completely destroyed the crops before they even emerged, but so far we have outwitted the rodents by keeping the pots on trolleys until they emerge and getting on top of the population with a rigorous trapping regime over the whole nursery. There are still a few about but the weekly capture rate has dropped to low single figures which is brilliant.

If you would like to see a quick preview of the new 2014 catalogue try the following link which takes you to a downloadable version or visit our website which has the up to date version;
Short of something to do? Image links for the ultimate in recycled design;
Kirton Christmas tree Mk2, (pre new lights)

Ok, time to go and brave the crowds again to get my little bit of special shopping done. It’s a bit early I know, Christmas Eve is still a couple of days away but I’m just hoping they haven’t sold out of hoover bags yet. She’s a lucky girl.

Have a great break and hope to hear from you all in the New Year.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Morning all,
Christmas time nearly upon us. We already have a couple of staff already off on their Christmas break which is slightly scary. Luckily Caroline says she doesn’t want anything much for Christmas so just the tree to put up and we are there. Everyone is off to the farm for a big family Christmas lunch so not too many sprouts to peel either. My homemade tree, conjured up from an old wooden venetian blind and a length of 2by2, is still going strong. Just been checking back on the photos and it dates from 2007 when it took over from the shorter lived Mk1 version. Mk1 involved screwing deciduous branches to my 2by2 but storage breakages usually meant a time consuming rebuild each festive season. I have updated the lights to leds but other than that the Mk2 is just as perfect as was then. Not much profit from me from all the Christmas decoration promotions I’m afraid but it still makes a distinct impression on any Christmas visitors!
It’s been an exciting couple of weeks with the financial results back from the accountants which were unsurprising in their content after two springs on the bounce of dodgy weather and a visit from the bank manager to discuss the results and sort out the overdraft for the next year. Luckily we do have an understanding chap who was surprisingly upbeat about all the things we have managed to do over such a tricky time. He wasn’t too worried about the figures and certainly focussed on boosting confidence rather than adding to the accumulated pressures of 2 seasons of slow sales and another cashed strapped winter. We must have pushed plenty of the right buttons so we got away with that again!
I had my interview with the Carbon Smart people last week to review the year and check up on our advances. Not a huge amount to report as we didn’t have much to invest this year, just a few replacements and upgrades to help efficiencies. The nice thing about having already done a lot of the donkey work over previous years is that we don’t have to do quite as much now to still be top performer. The great news is that we have been told we will retain our Gold certificate for 2014, I just have to wait to get the image file to update all the stationary etc.
I have been putting together the 2014 catalogue over the last few weeks but it turned out to be a bigger job than I planned. Just wanted a bit of an upgrade really, put in a bit more info, swap a few pictures about and pop in the new varieties we will be stocking (over 90 new or returning lines). I thought I might play with the paper size a bit too. All in all it turned into a marathon, but all is now complete and the hard copies will be in the post shortly. As usual it was the computer and printer challenges that hurt most, using a non standard paper size might not have been the best decision but I beat it in the end and who needs hair at my age. If you want a quick preview try the following link which takes you to a downloadable version or visit our website which will have the updated version any minute;
Short of something to do? Image links;
Christmas tree Mk2, (pre new lights)

Must go and dust off my baubles.
Box returns
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 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