Archive for May, 2008
Life for a mum begins as a cutting that is sliced off a stock plant usually located somewhere in Central America. The cutting is packaged in plastic bags with its brothers and sisters and shipped to us.
Upon arrival the cuttings are unpacked and the tips of the stems are dipped into a rooting hormone powder to stimulate root growth.
With in a few hours of unpacking, the cuttings are stuck into plug trays, placed on tables and rolled into the greenhouse.
Once in the greenhouse the cuttings enter their most critical stage. They are sprayed by an overhead watering boom about every 5-10 minutes to keep the foliage saturated until the stems become calloused and are able to take up water from the soil. If the cuttings are allowed to dry out for an extended period of time they will burn and/or die.
We stuck about 55,000 cuttings today between stocking and loading. The rest of our cuttings should be here on Tuesday.
Here is a video of part of the process. I need a better video camera than my smart phone. The video looks like they are moving in slow motion. They aren’t but they are not moving very fast either.
Don’t you just hate it when your mum cuttings get here a week early? I sure do. It just ruins my whole day. As usual, Yoder Brothers yanks us around and instead of shipping our mum cuttings next week as requested, they arrived today. So instead of having a moderately busy day shipping, we have had to cram in disinfecting our plug house (where we root the cuttings), putting shade cloth on the plug house, setting up the line for planting, testing the AC in the plug house (the cuttings hold best in cool temperatures) and several other details that have to be done before we can start. Last year they delivered them on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, and we spent Saturday morning sticking mum cuttings. I didn’t get any Best Boss awards that week. So enough of my griping. Starting tomorrow I will begin the riveting blog series “The Mum Chronicles” that will show an intimate peek into the details and the every day life of garden mums from unpacking and sticking to flowering and final sales so check back often and catch the drama.
Sales are slow this week. I hope things pick up next week. We still have plenty of availability on popular summer annuals like sweet potato vine, purslane, vinca (some colors), gazanias, zinnias and lantana. The problem we are running into is that the blooms are starting to go down on some of these items, and it becomes a catch-22 to either clean them up, incur more labor and hope to sell them or trash them. Some items like lantana and purslane will hold a long time but other items will only make it another week or two. Unfortunately from what I am hearing, a lot of the landscapers and home owners have not planted yet which means when they start, there will probably not be enough plant material available.
On a separate but similar note, one customer was complaining today that due to their practice of buying in discounted plants late in the season and selling them at a discount, they have conditioned their customer to wait until the discounts kick in before they start buying. That seems to be a prevalent problem. I have retail customers here that drive all the way out to our location, look around then ask, “When will you put stuff on sale?” This emphasizes two problems our industry has. The first is that consumers view our products as cheap commodities. And the second is that our prices are too low. We have all been selling at rock bottom prices for so long that any price increase is viewed as temporary. All the consumer has to do is wait for the discount.
Finally, here is the latest availabilitymay29.
Don’t forget to check back for (in that movie announcers voice) “The Mum Chronicles”.
Now that things have slowed down a bit I have more time to blog as frequently as I should. From what I hear from around the region the spring was not one of the better selling seasons. Most every one experienced poor sales in March and April and have yet to make up the deficits. For us sales are not down as much as I expected and, thankfully, we chose to cut back on a few items that would have really hurt our numbers had we not.
What sold well for you? I would love to get some feedback on what’s working and what’s flopping. Better communication between us and our customers can make sure that we all have a great spring in ’09!
Also here is an updated availability with updated numbers on vinca and begonias.
We will be closed Monday for Memorial Day and back in the office on Tuesday ready to get rolling again. Here is next week’s ready list. i hope everyone has a great weekend and stays safe!
No pictures this weekend. I’m ready for a day off. I will try to get around Tuesday and get some then.