Optimise crops now there is light at the end of the tunnel
With Welsh and English Garden Centre having now opened their doors and Scottish centres due to follow suit very soon, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for production nurseries says Technical Area Sales Manager, Ian Todd.
With many retail outlets having been closed for almost two months and alternatives routes to market limiting levels of business for most nurseries, now is the time to optimise herbaceous nursery stock to take full advantage of these welcome opportunities.
The weather has generally been good and customers are crying out for plants and compost to enable them to garden and get out of the house. Remember, customers buy with their eyes and good quality is essential.
With this in mind, I’ve set out several options to help maintain and optimise herbaceous nursery stock to protect your investments.
It is a good idea to start with a crop walk. This overview lets you see what’s looking good, what needs cutting back and / or requires additional feeding and maintenance. While doing this, also be on the lookout for pests and diseases as its easy for these problems to go undetected, especially in the middle of nursery stock beds.
An everyday process normally, water can easily be overlooked in these challenging times. Be on the lookout for dry areas, outside rows on beds have a higher water demand and bear in mind conditions have been quite dry.
Pots that have been left dry for a period of time may need some help. An application of H2Gro wetting and water conservation agent will help ensure consistent wetting throughout the whole pot. This not only aids nutrient availability but will also help improve shelf life – which could be prudent with possible reduced staffing levels in some garden centres.
For more information on wetting agents etc, click here to read the piece by my colleague Steve Chapman.
As the season has been effectively pushed back a couple of months, stock that should normally have already left the nursery, may be running out of nutrients.
Universol Blue, a balanced product for steady growth recommendation, provides a cost-effective way to maintain crop quality. To improve plant size and for good leaf colour, an application of high nitrogen Universol Green is recommended, while to promote compact growth and flowering I would suggest Universol Violet high potassium. All are simple to use and should be applied once or twice a week. (Link to products)
A simple one-time top dress fertilizer application can nurture plants for between two to five months depending on the product. As temperatures start to warm up, using a topdress fertilizer based on a controlled release technology (CRF) gives greater crop safety and better results than more traditional products based on slow release.
Depending on the growth type required, ICL offers several mini granular CRF topdress options. From quick green-up and growth in shrubs and trees, depending on the longevity required, use Osmotop (2- 3 month) or Osmocote Topdress FT (4- 5 month). To maintain compact growth and encourage flowering in perennials or shrubs use Osmocote Bloom (2-3 month).
I very much hope these options will help you manage your growing situations to enable you to capitalise on the opportunities that surely lie ahead as lockdown restrictions are lifted.