Monday, 29 September 2014

Hairy cover up

Good morning all.

Sun is still out but the house martins have flown south now for their winter break. Looking forward to mine with a long weekend booked on Tresco. Or was that Tesco. Times are still tough.
Still have some winter interest stock, including lovely Asters and Hellebores, scooting off to new homes but the impending cash-flow lull is looming and it’s nearly time to batten down the hatches until sales start to pick up again in the New Year. Lots of winter projects pencilled in but all on a tight budget so lots of recycling and imagination on the cards.
One big change this winter will be the new colour perennial labels threaded on their bamboo skewers. The specially designed skewers are due in during October and the printers are busy preparing the set up for the bespoke coloured part. We have managed, ahead of schedule, to gather together the final list of plants for them to print and generated individual barcodes and QR codes for all varieties. So well done us! Now we just need to generate about 450 pages of plant info on the web pages so the QR codes actually show something when they come into use in the New Year.
We are hoping to develop a bit more water collection from some of the tunnels, but it’s a tricky thing to balance with the price of water still being fairly cheap and the water recycling installations not. I’m sure we’ll come up with something.The cash-flow took a bit of a beating this week with a couple of those sneaky bills coming in that you hope not to get. The routine checks on the forklift showed a worn bearing, no longer a standard available part of course, and they have had to take the truck away, more cost, to get done as they couldn’t get the pins out on site. Then the propagation area environmental control computer needed repair after it stopped holding on to all its settings when the power went off. One of those specialist bits of kit that needed the maker to come out and deal with. Just £8 for the replacement backup battery but £400 for labour and travel costs. The battery was a soldering job so I would have struggled to do it myself and the engineer did do several other checks of the attached kit and resetting of data but still a bit of a bitter pill.
What did go brilliantly this week was the recovering of 3 tunnels which got damaged and temporarily repaired after last winter’s storms. I ordered 7 sheets late the previous week which arrived very promptly, thanks to Fargro & XL Horticulture. We then had one very still day on which we covered two and a short window the following morning when we slipped over another. The second day was touch and go as the wind picked up as soon as we got the sheet over. It can get pretty tense when that happens, as a sheet 50m x 11.1m with the wind under it is a very powerful thing. However in favourable conditions, once the cover is over, it only takes 4 of us about an hour or so to fix it down but as so often it’s the preparation and tidying up t hat takes most time. The warmth in the air meant all three are on nice and tight and I am hoping we get another couple of warm still days in the coming week when we can get the rest done. That would be quite a relief going into the winter.


Fresh stock is growing well and the range is picking up again for the autumn surge!
Asters are showing bud and flower and looking great. Particularly good are Rosenwitchel, Starlight, Lady in Blue & Snowsprite. Hellebourus are just starting to come ready with a few new additions to the range. We are trying a new H. orientalis selection called Crown Dark Purple which is reported to flower after its first winter, it is certainly coming on nicely at the moment. We have a few H. niger Praecox to try out and three great new H. viridus varieties which are looking very smart and distinctly different from each other. ‘Silver & Rose’ has attractive silvered foliage, ‘White Green’ has deep green leaves with strong cream veining, and ‘Rose Green’ has a more glaucous green leaf with pretty flush of pink in the stems and some leaf veining. Nice short varieties looking enthusiastic in their pots.
Flowers showing on the Erodium Bishops form which never seems to stop once it starts. Evergreen Bergenia’s are now making a tidy pot ready to produce their early spring colours. Ajuga’s looking smart, nice pot full’s of coloured foliage.

Another winter interest group are the Pulmonaria’s. We have extended the range this winter with the white edged leaves of David Ward (pink flowers) and the pretty white spring flowers of Sissinghusrt White held above white spotted leaves. The regular stunners are still there, Blue Ensign (pale leaves but the best blue flowers) and the fabulously variegated/white blotched leaves of Opal with its lovely delightful pale blue flower in spring.

Wooden Box Collections
We have had a really good round up of trays over the last couple of weeks but if anyone still has any of our wooden boxes ready for collection please do drop us an email and we will pop in and retrieve them. We can then prepare ourselves for some winter whittling and repairs. Thanks.

Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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