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August 2021

The Secret Life of Plants - Roots to Market

If you’ve read the previous articles in this series, entitled ‘The Secret Life of Plants’, you’ll have seen that we covered taking cuttings from Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote', which were then propagated and transferred to plugs in trays before paying a visit to our potting shed, where they were duly ‘potted up’.

Once transferred via our automated pot loading system onto a series of trailers in the potting shed, the trailers are then attached to a tractor before being taken to their next destination, in this case our vast glasshouse. Like any stock management system in a warehouse, the nursery is mapped out with hundreds of location codes to easily locate the product.

 

Biosecurity is crucial and the area where the plants will spend the next part of their time on the nursery will have been thoroughly cleaned, measured out and then the new stock set out in rows, allowing for foliage expansion, irrigation and ongoing maintenance.

The next task is for labels to be printed and inserted into a special slot in the pot. These contain identification information along with details of the compost mix used and the week number in which potting was carried out. The plants are then entered into our SAP stock management system; but depending on the development stage of the roots may not be deemed as ‘ready’ at this stage, and so are given a projected saleability week number on the stock database.

 

The computerised irrigation system will be programmed with a target, frequency and duration, plus the foliage may be trimmed to encourage growth, depending on the species and cultivar.

Once the plants reach the stage where they are ready for sale the stock database is updated, allowing the sales staff and the website to ‘see’ the live stock availability on their screens.

This enables the sales team to supply customers with estimates based on the actual available stock.

 

Unfortunately, if another estimate has also been supplied based on the same stock and that customer places an order, the available numbers reduce significantly. This is when things start to become interesting…

In the next instalment of The Secret Life of Plants we look at how orders are confirmed and passed to the picking and dispatch teams.