So what's happening on the nursery at the moment, while the chilly wet weather is keeping most people indoors we are busy in the greenhouses keeping our plants happy and propagating ready for spring. At this time of year the heated propagater is constantly full as we juggle things around to just squeeze a few more cuttings on - sometimes you wonder if it should have been built from elastic so it could stretch to requirements - would make our lives so much easier!
Our propagaters use electric soil warming cables to provide heat below the cuttings to encourage them to root, this is usually set for about 70f as this is the best temperature for getting the cuttings to root. We also give weekly sprays of SB Invigorater as this feeds the plants and we find it helps speed rooting. We still lightly water as and when required as it is suprising how the plants will dry out on sunny days, but there is no hard and fast rule to this it is purely a case of looking at the plants, what the weather is doing and making a decision - years of experience helps though!
A few weeks ago we went through all the mother plants and removed all the flowers, buds and older leaves, it is a time consuming job when you have as many plants as we do and although they are all looking a bit "naked" - the plants really benefit from it. This is especially essential in the Pelargoniums as it helps the plants produce better cutting material and also prevents any diseases forming such as Botrytis (keep reading, we cover this in a bit).
Our pinks are fully hardy and they simply have a cover over the top of the tunnel, this is to keep excessive rain off the plants and the staff happy when it's raining. The sides of the Pink house is open to allow lots of air movement, again this helps prevent botrytis - the scurge of the greenhouse at this time of year.
Our pelargoniums and succulents need to be kept frost free so they are treated to a heated house with big powerful heaters to make sure the temperature never drops below freezing. It's a constant battle between the weather and my desire to save oil as on a cold night each heater can use 10 liters of heating oil an hour maintaining the required temperature. Fortunately the sun during the day warms the greenhouse air quite quickly so usually the thermostat turns the heaters off during daylight hours. We also open the vents as much as possible to allow some fresh air in and to prevent botrytus.
‘Botrytis’ or the commonly known name of ‘grey mould’, is a fungal disease that can be problematic if left unchecked, but with regular removal of finished flowers and leaves and good ventilation around the plants it can be controlled and potentially eradicated. Botrytis thrives in humid conditions so greenhouses are the perfect hosts, it is an ubiquitous fungus, whose airborne spores are always present, it thrives on dead organic material but can also infect living plants under the right conditions, for example on green plant parts a wound or other stress is usually needed for infection, but on flowers and fruits it can infect without wounds.
Picture below on left shows flowers & leaves if left on the plant can form ‘grey mould’. Picture on the right, shows plant tidied up and all old plant growth and flowers removed, leaving nice healthy stems.
In the office Emma has been busy organising the 2020 spring plant catalogue and giving the website a make-over, we think it looks great and welcome any feedback good or bad. Regular customers who have ordered in the last year should receive a spring catalogue during mid January, if you don't receive one and would like to have one posted to you then please let us know and we will happily pop one in the post to you. There is no charge to UK residents, oversea addresses will incur a delivery charge.
We've got some lovely plants coming on ready to make your garden beautiful next summer and in our upcoming blog Emma will be telling us all about the exciting new varieties we have added to our range. 2020 sees us celebrate our 110th Anniversary and we are really looking forward to what the year has in store.
So, if the art of a good speech is to know when to shut up I guess it's the same with a blog so I'll stop now and finish with wishing you a Happy New Year and look forward to supplying your plant needs for 2020.
Happy Growing and thanks for reading