First week in October and we are still basking in the good weather which has now lasted a full 5 weeks.
Only 36mm of rain in September compared with 52 last year and 62 in August this year. A really good rain in the near future would do no harm at all.
The autumn planting season will soon be with us and we need more moist conditions to lift plants out of the ground with a good root system and also to get them to re-establish well. Autumn has always been the very best time to plant as the soil is at its warmest and young roots will make significant new growth before the winter sets in.
I understand that salads, fruit and vegetables have done well again this year, they got off to a really good start with the lack of any late frosts, and potatoes have shown only limited blight symptoms with the lack of continuous wet spells. In some areas slugs have been a problem, they were certainly anticipated after the very wet January and mild winter, but appear to have been variable in the way they have affected different areas.
Nursery stock has done well through the summer, we have used about the same borehole water as in recent years and growth has been good with few weather related losses. Whilst shrubs did well in early summer the increasing demand for herbaceous plants through the summer is very marked. Fortunately, we have been following this trend within our production, and our current ‘looking good’ weekly colourful list features a majority of herbaceous plants. Lavenders still remain a key plant and we never seem to have quite enough at the right time! As we continue to reduce production for Homebase we are increasing the number and range of herbaceous plants and the overall production of amenity landscape plants.
Sales to landscaping projects continue at a level in excess of last year, both by small businesses and the really big projects. When planting in current mid-summer conditions it is important that plants are really well watered before planting and watered frequently until they get established. Square planting holes are best in order to prevent spiralling of the root systems, and ensure the compost surface is just below soil level so that water will not be wicked out of the root-ball. As we use long release fertilizer in all our compost it should not be necessary to add feed at the time of planting.
The plant disease Xylella continues to affect more host plants in northern Europe and we try to steer clear of them. There are now 92 plants on our list of plants which cannot be sold without a plant passport although not all are affected by Xylella. I have not heard of any recent sightings in the UK.
The Chalara Ash disease continues to spread slowly across the country, but it appears that growers and landscapers are diligently following instructions not to sell or purchase ash trees. The recent Arboricultural Association Conference heard that trials of resistant specimens are ongoing, with some 155,000 trees currently being grown in Southeast England. Dr Peter Thomas said. “We still need diversity because otherwise a mutation of the pathogen could still wipe them out. We know there are more virulent strains in Japan.”
We continue to come out of the recession, garden centre orders have increased again this year from all over the country, and amenity landscape orders have also increased significantly, with big projects in all areas of the country doing much better than in previous years. Last year was reasonably good, but this year has been even better!
Sales through the wholesale cash and carry have shown a significant increase, and sales through July, August and September, normally our quietest months, confirm that at last we have got over the bad years of 2008 to 2014, but what Brexit will eventually do to plant sales, none of us have a clue! The collapse in the value of the £ against the Euro must mean that production costs will increase across the board. We appear to have forgotten the slow increase in oil costs is having on UK plant trading.
Watch out for the next instalment!!
Posted 4th Oct 2:54pm
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