Mini March Newsletter

Mini News. March 2021

Well, welcome to Choice Plants Mini News, a short news letter I hope of interest!!! We reopened on the 1st of March after two months closure, not wasted as I cleaned and tidied the nursery which was really a once in twenty year event!!   We are all ready for potting which starts in earnest in mid March.   The cafe, crafts and ice cream parlour won’t be open for some time, probably mid May depending on the governments edicts.

Nursery News.  I am increasing our production this year in the light of our experiences last year and what I can see happening in our industry.  There will be shortages of plants in 2021.  Demand in 2020 was unprecedented and as a result a proportion of plants destined for sale in 2021 were sold in 2020.  As a result of brexit we have “taken back our borders” resulting in (quite rightly)  tighter plant health controls for European imports – most notably from the Netherlands.  There is a very nasty disease on the continent called Xyella which must be kept out of our country and these tighter plant controls are part of the defence.  It takes time to produce plants from seeds and cuttings and in time the UK industry will fill the void but for the short term there will be gaps.  So, we will be more self sufficient this year producing a greater range of plants and more of them, quite exciting really!!

Retail News.  I suppose the big issue for retailers this year is one of supply.  If you can remember compost was in very short supply last year – partly a result of production stopping last April at a crucial time as workers were furloughed and partly due to massive demand as we all turned to our gardens in lock down.  Well, pretty much expect the same again, not quite such shortages but unless as a retailer you are very well prepared, supplies will be disrupted.  I took the decision in Jan and bought my spring and summer supply of retail compost in one go rather than spreading it over 4 months, so we have 150 pallets of compost stocked up!!  I had a phone call this week from one of our suppliers letting me know lead times for supply are now 4 to 5 weeks and we have hardly started!! The same will apply to feeds, canes are in short supply already ( I’ve got loads!! )

Prices are going up!! Not by much here but in the bigger garden centres by significant amounts.  An opportunity to use the demand/supply curve equation and Brexit excuse.  There are going to be shortages and costs are definitely increasing as shipping costs have gone up from the Far East by a factor of x 5. It will settle down eventually but I bit like decimalisation all those years ago it was the catalyst for a hike in prices!!

Horticultural Tips:  Seeds, such fun to grow.  A couple of tips.  Firstly DONT plant your seeds too deep.  They should only be sown as deep as the depth of the actual seed!! Bean seed 1-2cm.  Tomato seed pretty much just under the surface.  Secondly,always make a seed bed even if its compost in a pot or tray.  Gently flatten the compost with a flat surface to make it smooth so that seeds don’t get lost down some great chasm in the compost! Lastly – do not overwater and do not sow them so early that you have plants in your kitchen stretching for light!!

Spring is the time to feed.  Long term slow release feeds are more effective in the garden, such as blood fish and bone, chicken pellets.  Feeding has a profound affect and is good value!! Always make sure the feed finds its way slightly underground by raking it in if you can as it needs to be moist to work.

Don’t be tempted to buy basket and bedding plants too early.  Garden centres have them for sale from early April, it’s too early.  Leave the purchase of these until at least the first week of May, nothing gained by early purchase but all to loose.

Hope to see you soon.