From the Nursery

Fungus flies Apply nematodes to avoid fungus flies on cuttings on heated beds during the winter months. The bottom heat will ensure effective prolonged activity.

Compost tea Review your tea applications this year. Make notes on any cultural changes carried out this season and put together information on specific brewing techniques so staff can get the brew right first time. Is your machine as clean as it could be? Experience has shown that the cleaner you keep your equipment the more effective the brew will be. Implement a thorough cleaning regime after each brew to include all the filters and the bubbler. Any ingredients that did not get thoroughly mixed in and are not removed will contaminate the next brew. Check the bubbler sock and main tap sieve each year and replace as required.

Lighting Light levels have not been high in some areas of the country this autumn so why not consider supplementary lighting over selected crops? The benefits from lighting stock plants for earlier cutting production or seedlings for quicker establishment can soon pay for the investment. Lighting should be used in conjunction with adequate heating to get a balanced growth. The use of LED lights is very popular in Holland and they have opened up a whole new opportunity for UK growers with limited power availability. You can run systems from a single phase electricity supply that would not have been possible with SON-T lamps.

Undercutting This process is frequently left out of the summer jobs. It has several distinct benefits that are most visible during the lifting season. Consider the inclusion of undercutting next summer on the final-year plantings. It reduces long feeder roots and encourages a small, active dense root system that will establish much quicker and with less risk of failure when planted out and makes lifting easier by creating fissures in the tightly-packed soil profile. It also improves drainage in the soil during wet autumns, making tractor movements easier.

Planning Use the darker nights to look back over the pest and disease successes and failures and modify your spray programme accordingly. Look at biological control programmes and integrate where practical. Review growing media recipes for next season to maximise plant growth. Plan the use of growth regulators in 2010. Reducing the amount of trimming and increasing bud set are just two benefits that more than outweigh the additional costs of application.

John Adlam is the managing director of Dove Associates


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