Monday, 9 January 2017

Small and Hairy

Morning all,
Nearly back into the swing of things after a nice break. It was a bit of a nippy week for the return to work and staff numbers were a bit low with a combination of extended breaks, cold weather days off, winter bugs and jury service but we still seemed to get through lots of bits and pieces, including a few small but highly valued orders.
The new lab store and cold room are soaking up the hours at the moment as we try and get it fully operational. The cock up (not mine this time!) of fitting a freezer unit (-15 to -25C) rather than a chiller (+6C to -10C) to the cold room was rectified on Friday although it still isn’t actually running yet. It should get commissioned on Monday with luck and then we are off, all guns blazing. I have already completed the shelving and LED installation in the cold room and quite a bit of plant stock has been moved in. Next is the racking for the 56 crates of media storage to assemble. (The media is agar jelly poured into the little grow tubs and kept for a few days to check no contaminants are growing in it), It is just 120 pieces of metal angle salvaged from the old dismantled store which I’m hoping will naturally all fit nicely together. After that there are just the other storage fittings to go and we can move in all the other dry stock which is stacked in the growth room and despatch. At this point we should then have enough space for a week or two to fit the remaining new LED lights in the growth room and clear despatch ready to sell some plants. Then there is just the drainage system to develop, acid store to upgrade, track- ways to resurface, gravel weed suppressant to lay and, oh yes nearly forgot, all the plants to cut back and tidy ready for the Spring sales. I always look forward to the quiet winter period to recover from the pressures of a long sales season!
Our little 3.5t van has now clocked up over 270,000 miles and is need of a little rest so we are shortly to put it into semi- retirement and get a new version. I have been researching all the new models which is really tricky as many of the manufacturers share chassis’s and engines making picking out the best for what we need, a real challenge. Happily I can say that it appears that they are all improving their performance as each year passes and after seeing a report on diesel cars earlier in the week the reason this is so is that they are governed by more stringent rules than their domestic equivalents. It’s something to do with the way emissions are tested and it turns out that commercial vehicles have to be much cleaner burning than the cars by a huge amount, as they are tested in real world conditions rather than in a lab. We have a small diesel car ourselves and I now feel total misled into making what we thought at the time was an environmentally responsible purchase, but there you go, so much for believing the big boys.
Availability highlights
We have a few winter performers on offer and if anyone would like to make up a smaller order we will do our best to get it to you asap. Ideally a 15 tray minimum is best but we could stretch to 12 trays if you are fairly local or we are passing by. The Hellebores are coming on well and a few are ready to roll. Helleborus niger Advent Star is a very early flowering form and has plenty of flower and bud showing already, so don’t miss out on that one. We have a great new range of orientalis with several colours and forms (singles, doubles and spotted). We have already spotted the occasional bud, so hopeful of some good sales to come there, They are certainly looking strong at the moment.
The ever popular Erysimum Bowles Mauve are already in bud, it will be a while before the colour shows but the plants are strong, hardy and bushy. The other varieties look good too, but it should be a few weeks before bud appears on those. The Pulmonaria are coming one well with a little bud beginning to appear on a few. Blue Ensign is the most forward and the variegated Opal is looking smart.
Our own saved seed of local wild primrose from the farm wood are looking chunky and not far off flowering, the odd bud has opened already. Ajuga have attractive evergreen foliage and look good through the cooler months, we have a good range ready now. The other varieties we have listed are looking green and full of promise, many staying evergreen despite the cold. Although some plants may look sad for a while after a hard frost, they soon perk up again if left to recover in their own time. Ideally they benefit from a bit of protection from the harshest conditions to keep up the good looks, but try to avoid too much warmth.
Wooden box collections
We have been collected up lots of wooden trays in recent weeks, so if you have any needing collection just drop us an email and we will add you to the list of destinations.
Have a good year and week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

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