At Palmstead we’re proud to be able to say that the majority of the plants we sell have been grown on our nursery, here in the ‘Heart of Kent’; propagated by our young plants team with cuttings taken from selected stock items.
In the course of the current year, we aim to have propagated more than 875,000 plants in this way; next year we’re hoping that number to increase to up to 1,000,000 to cope with what has been (at the time of writing) a period of unprecedented demand.
The process begins with a series of meetings between our sales, purchasing and production teams. As you may imagine, we have a considerable lead-in period between initially taking cuttings and delivering finished plants to our customers, and demand for certain species can, and sometimes does, change.
Trends are carefully analysed and the information scrutinised, but sometimes even a feature on one of the many TV gardening programmes can throw us a curve ball. It’s therefore a testament to the professionalism and skills of the team that we’re usually able to predict and meet demand.
Once a list of requirements has been created, the supervisor at the young plants Unit, Fernando Puerto-Garcia, collects the required number of cuttings from a specially allocated batch of stock - in this case Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote' - before taking them to the propagation room in the young plants unit.
Each of the 2,000 cuttings is then trimmed and placed in a tray of plugs prepared with a specially selected compost mix containing an organic controlled release fertiliser before being laid out in the misting chambers, where they will stay for three weeks. This will encourage healthy roots and make for a stronger plant.
In the next part of this series of features, we will find out what happens to our young lavenders as they continue their journey through the various stages of growth and finally potting, before becoming ready for sale.