Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Hairy Equinox

Morning all,
Autumn panic all round as we try and get all the potting finished. Just a few of the more vigorous types to go and the spring bulbs which are due in any minute. Still clearing up from the summer production and sales in advance of the potters. This is always a satisfying job, regaining control, tidiness and order from apparent chaos. Holidays are being taken left right and centre after the school hols are over and prices fall, which is great and well earned by those taking it but adds an extra layer of pressure on those left trying to get on top of things. Luckily only another couple of weeks of production pressure on the nursery and then we can relax into the quiet of the autumn and winter (see below).
The lab work meanwhile is beginning to gear up as they get started on another big production year. In an effort to reduce the impact of the living wage increases (11% this year) we are trying to spread the lab production peak over a longer period which seems to be working ok, the only downside being that there is little let up in work to draw breath, relax and take stock. The lab output starts much earlier in the year than the nursery and is now finishing later so no pressure there! I now drawn up a monster list of all the projects that we ideally need to complete over next few ‘quiet’ months.
  • We have a new roof to go over the lab and growth room to stop the rot (literally). 
  • We are looking to replace the remaining 120 fluorescent lights in the lab growth room with LEDs which means remaking shelves, rewiring and mounting. 
  • The cold store has dissolved in damp and decay over the last few years so it needs replacing (new super insulated shed with a small internal cold store on the wish list).
  • New drainage channels for the nursery for flood prevention and water collection/recycling.
  • Install a small acid bulk tank to treat our hard water, replacing the more hazardous multiple drums currently used. 
  • Ground cover to install to further reduce herbicide use.
  • The list goes on.....
Luckily the bank manager wrote last week saying how he would like to lend more. Let’s hope he means it.

Availability highlights
The little hardy Cyclamen coum are just getting started now, with a few flowers open and loads of bud to come. This range flowers from now until April, a real winter star. The Hellebores coming on well and a few are ready to roll. We have a great new range of orientalis with several colours and forms (singles, doubles and spotted). They should be flowering from their first winter so hopeful of some good sales there, They are certainly looking strong at the moment. We still have Erigeron karvinskianus  in bud and flower. Prettily scrambling away it flowers for ever. We have a late flush of bud on many of the Anemone japonica varieties.
We cut back and potted a few more Echinacea a while ago and we now have a nice bonus crop of a couple of varieties producing a flush of bud and colour. Lovely plants but they won’t hang around long. A wide range of Asters are appearing with more and more bud and colour showing. We have several new varieties, many mildew free/resistant (ageratoides and frikartii types).
There is a very pretty fresh crop of Tiarella in flower at the moment, should look good for a few weeks yet. We have a few pink Erodiums in flower which are looking nice and should keep going until the frosts. Some of the summer potted Achillea are showing bud as they bulk up before their winter rest. There is also flower on the Anthemis Charme which is a bright new compact variety with numerous pretty small yellow daisies which flower for an age.
I’ll just whisper it quietly that we have a few Schizostylis (Hesperatha) in bud and showing the odd bit of colour. They are quite early this season and not many left I’m afraid so don’t tell everyone. We will try and grow extra of all varieties, but especially our red form next year. I have a couple of the red left which are just opening and they are spectacular, great colour and big flowers. It’s a specially selected form which we propagate in our microprop lab so it comes true to type, the only issue really is the crop timing, it usually tends to be a bit late flowering for most but it is well worth waiting for.

Wooden box collections
We have been making a concerted effort to collect up lots of wooden trays in recent weeks before things get too damp and cold so if you have any needing collection just drop us an email and we will add you to the list of destinations. Lots collected and cleaned up already but always room for more.
Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

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