Monday, 12 February 2018

Hairy bristles

Morning all,
Not quite perfect spring weather yet but we had some delightful sunny days last week, if a bit nippy, happy days. Between sending out quite a few orders this week we got stuck into a few winter chores this week. Some jobs that had been hanging around for years rather than months. The tool/machinery shed had gradually sunk into total disarray, the more disorganised things got the quicker things deteriorated, to the point where we struggled to get in and out ourselves let alone park up and charge the electric buggies. We have been waiting for the perfect day to get it done, dry, still, not too frozen and free from too many distractions. Wednesday turned out to be that day and we hit it hard, 4 of us cleared it all out into the yard, sorted out what we were going to keep, rearrange, reuse, recycle and chuck. It took all day but the results were impressive, not only is the shed looking super clean and apparently nearly empty, but the buggies got serviced and 40 new bug houses (now hung up in the tunnels) got made from bundles of old canes and cut up waste plastic pipes, All very satisfying. While we were on a roll we cleared the potting tunnel, serviced the machine and cut up all the waste wood built up in despatch from the wooden box repairs. Nearly ready for the spring mayhem. Just need to print another 100,000 labels and we’re done!
Another part of the spring readiness campaign is refreshing some of the hand tools around the site. Brushes, dustpans etc all fall into disrepair after a while and need replacing to keep production efficient. This time round we have taken to heart the anti- plastic mood of the moment and replaced most of the worn out plastic kit with wooden handled, naturally bristled and metal stuff. It wasn’t quite as cheap as the plastic alternatives but not too bad. Hoping the extra feel good factor will create even more positive vibes than usual. We live in hope.
Finalised the pest predator introduction programme this week. Slightly scary the amount of introductions to go in over the year with a 3 weekly cycle of releases of multiple bugs. It’s a lot of money to just let go, but to be fair they do drastically reduce any spraying we might have to do in spots where the predators can’t keep up. We have extended the season of releases, adjusted the mix a bit, trying out a few extra different bugs to increase the range of pests controlled. Fingers crossed they don’t fly away.

Winter delivery minimum orders
Until mid February (last week for this offer) we are able to drop the minimum order quantity generally to 15 trays and possibly, at a push, to 12 trays if you are very local to Winchester.

Availability highlights
Despite the winter weather the Erysimum are looking great. All the green leaved varieties are in tight bud already, leaving the two variegated forms slightly behind on the budding front. Attractive finely cut bronzed foliage of Polemonium Heaven Scent looking fab. The odd bud in sight already, many more will appear very shortly. More of the Pulmonaria are showing bud now, with little splash of colour in the Blue Ensign, a stunning dark blue, the others aren’t far behind with their nice tight variegated/silvered foliage showing nicely.
Euphorbias are looking good, retaining attractive foliage through the winter months before bursting into flower in early spring. Another evergreen early spring flowerer currently looking smart are the Bergenias in two white varieties.
There are two Lamium varieties flushing into a bright early show with their fresh silvery foliage. Some of the spring bulbs are making a break for it, the Alliums are well up (3/pot). Others putting on a spurt are Scilla, Camassia, Tulip, Muscari, Fritillaria and Ipheion. I haven’t marked the Fritillaria as being in bud yet but there are a few about. Primula veris are budding up well as they emerge. We changed suppliers this year to get a more true wild veris strain, after last year’s slightly disappointing over selected bright yellow ones. Live and learn.We have grown a batch of Primula Wanda this year which we haven’t grown for ages, an old, traditional and tough variety with early purple/red flowers produced year after year. They are mostly showing buds and a bit of colour already, on stocky strong plants, although I am hesitant to send them out just yet as I would quite like to see just how big they are going to get! Maybe best if they did this with you and your customers rather than satisfying my curiosity!
Spring is bursting despite the cool temperatures and our Lupins have all made delicious vigorous shoot growth from around the plant base. They seem to do so well as an overwintered crop, producing so many new chunky basal shoots with the potential for so much flower later in the season. We do need to sell these fairly early so that they don’t get too big for our pots, although the early cool weather should help to stop them running away on us.

Wooden box returns
We have collected the majority of our wooden boxes up now from last season, but please do drop us a line if you would like us to pop in and collect any more up. We aren’t up and about too much at the moment, but you will be in our thoughts and on the list. Thanks.

Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

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