Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Plant Climate Protection System


How many of you have lost that precious plant you should have kept in the greenhouse during cold spells?. Or if you have no greenhouse and intended moving your tender container plant to the garage but forgot and one nights frost was one too many. Maybe the container was too large to move, was forgotten or you were away that weekend.
Together with Swedish company, Living Plant, MyPlant® has been working on this problem for a few years . To cut a long story short, after years of research, visits to the testing centre at the University of Agriculture Alnarp, Sweden with more on site testing here in Ireland, a solution for a number of levels of cold tolerances has been developed. Out of this work has come our PlantinPod strategy. The advantages of the shared knowledge of such a wide temperature range and how such temperatures affect various plant species has been invaluable. This cold protection system for plants is not just a product its a group of different elements and knowledge brought together to deliver the PlantInPod system. This simple system is for people who love gardening on the edge of their climate zone or for home owners with a flair for the best plants the world has to offer. PlantInPod brings more opportunity to maintain those plants which you always want to have but fear your climate zone will kill. Now you can stylishly and professionally create the climate zone your plants need in their own safety pod for those periods they will be at risk. With the decorative finish and an light we have also created a night time garden feature giving a magical glow through the frost laden environment.
All plants are sensitive to cold of a certain extreme or other. Some plants immediately die at a temperature below -1 to -3 degrees Celsius while others can tolerate a few short spells of cold. With our PlantInPod system such plants can survive temperatures down to -20 degrees C. The system has a built in control which ensures that the warming starts before the critical damage temperature is reached. This creates a "micro climate" which can give the plant a comfortable temperature of around plus 5 degrees Celcius for the entire cold period. Also with our customisable root insulation material plant roots are protected from over heating against the direct drying and burning summer heat of clay pots. The protection system is efficient for plants permanently in your garden border as well as your container plants.
As we container plant enthusiasts know plants have two main parts that need protection, roots and shoots. No roots no shoots, you can protect the shoots all you like but if those roots get killed its curtains for the shoots. Many perennial plants can survive dessication of the top growth and re-grow but for most plants survival from year to year depends on maintaining the stems, branches and foliage through the winter.
The new PlantInPod system consists of three different parts which can be used independently of each other. In the most severe weather conditions all three parts used together will protect a very wide range of plants in the most extreme weather conditions. As I write this blog piece I know all you experienced plants people out there might be of immense help to give some initial critique. Am I crazy? Is this system going to be of use to you in a meaningful and practical way? Has anyone been looking for this kind of one stop system? Any comments help or advice will be welcome! I am hopeful that this system will also be useful to botanic gardens and other specialist institutions so please feel free to spread the word about this work we have done.
In the first weeks of 2010 I will be doing a follow up blog article before the launch of the PlantInPod system. I am working on some alternative uses I am testing for the soil and air heater. I will post data from our final pre-launch winter testing. The first public and trade viewing of the system will be at IPM Essen 2010 Our stand number at IPM is Hall 2 Stand 509.
I look forward to any comments you might have or even seeing you at IPM 2010. If you would like to buy a system from us they areavailable in limited numbers fo European delivery. You can Contact me through our FitzGerald nurseries website

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Industry Promotion idea

Most of us are all involved in the promotion of the great pastime of gardening and make a living from the endeavours of gardeners and consumers who buy plants.
A possibly nutty, naive or optimistic idea came to me this time last year and instead of compiling a newsletter as I had intended I thought I would focus a January mail shot on this one idea, not much else is happening in plant retail sales this time of year in this part of the world and it's time to prepare rather than promote. Instead of burying this idea I thought I would use this opportunity to share it.
Maybe it has been done already, maybe it's a standard in some industries or maybe there isn't any appetite to try it. Many of us come up with seemingly Eureka ideas in the middle of the night but we don't act on them or beat ourselves down thinking if I think or say this out loud others will laugh or simple smile understandingly. Now that we have many well proven commercial craziness in the world there are far better more infamously accomplished people to laugh at so it's safe to be a little bit risqué. The idea I am trying to push is quite simple. Thursday I was sitting in the dentist's waiting room aware that she was having a problem with her current patient that meant my time for the chair was 15 minutes away. I started shuffling through the magazines to see if there was anything interesting. I realized there was no gardening magazine but there was a golf , fashion and tourism magazine (our competitors) and guess what? Some daffodils! When I got over the disappointment that such a simple thing such as a garden magazine was not available it occurred to me the reason there was no magazine there was that my dentist isn't a gardener. The tourism magazine actually helped relax me a bit. On the way home I thought someone better sort this out but I admit I had forgotten to mention it to my dentist or her receptionist when my turn came for the chair. As you all know professionals charge a professional fee and they are business people like us. I am sure when I go back with my idea it will not be taken as negative suggestion from one business person to another such quid pro quo is the lubrication of commercial life in small towns.
Based on this gap in reading material, I am making the following proposition to anyone with the same ‘vested interest' in increasing awareness of gardening. This includes our service providers both personal and company suppliers. I am proposing we collect last years good condition gardening magazines and make some beneficial use of them instead of hoarding them. Why not distribute these magazines into as many hair dressers, doctors, chiropodists, dentists, nail bars, beauty salon waiting rooms as will be agreeable to accept them. It's a win, win situation. Maybe this has been done already but think of the cost of printing these publications, how fantastically crammed with pictures and information they can be and we just read them and stick them somewhere or dump them. We can surely make further positive promotion usage of garden magazines by increasing their circulation figures 5 or even 10 fold to many people who probably would not have been exposed to them already. You can pick up a 12 month old gardening magazine and its as valid as one printed yesterday. If in time this proves to be increasing awareness maybe industry organisations can even prepare custom made information publications for giving away in a similar manner.
To go one better we intend to slip the MyPlant leaflet into the ones we distribute as if it were originally part of the magazine. Ok it is a bit sneaky but its our business and we have to tell people about it and our budget isn't big because we are pressed on prices. You're welcome to download one of our leaflets also and pop one in your magazines . Ok nice try I guess!!
I see a lot of magazines collecting dust in this office so I am getting rid of them in this manner, recycling the well presented information as well as clearing up clutter. This can be do-it-yourself that doesn't require major industry conferences or meetings to get going its simple and up to each of us to find ways to promote our industry even if this isn't the idea for everyone. I am not sure to what extent this particular idea will work towards increasing awareness of plants and gardening benefits but we here will be sure we worked the idea to find out. I don't see how it can hurt unless it increases the levels of paper cuts reported in doctors surgeries, now that could hurt but not much.
Maybe all of us in the industry need to be more inventive in times like this this idea above is no more than that, an idea, however we all keep depending on the weather a bit too much and we have no idea for changing that.. We can change attitude however.