Friday, September 23, 2011

My love of Passionfruit

Damn near 25 years doing this job and still learning new things every day. Gotta like that but it also makes you wonder if I'm a bit slow. Last year we re-introduced Grafted Tomatoes and Grafted Eggpant to our product range. We did this because we found a supplier willing to supply us with young grafted plants. A brilliant product on their part, requires huge skill and equipment. There won't be many competitor's in this space. I'd also like to point out that they produce a beautiful product with a very strong graft with only the rootstock's roots in the soil. (If that raises another question, there is more than one way to graft Tomatoes. One method leave the roots of both the root stock and the scion in the soil. The superior graft and much more difficult requires removal of the scion roots altogether.  Done well it is both stronger and more effective at giving the benefit of the root stock to the scion plant.)

We wanted a Grafted Tomato on our list to complete the basket of products on offer to ensure our customers didn't have to go to our competitors for this essential product. That's not the best reason to grow a new plant but the crop of grafted Tomatoes served it's purpose, sold moderately well and we dumped very few. Here's the interesting bit, when we introduced the Grafted Tomatoes last year we were immediately asked if we grew Grafted Passionfruit. Now I didn't make the mental jump from Tomato to Passionfruit but as it happened the same supplier offered a grafted Passionfruit so what the hell, let's have a go. That attitude get's me into trouble at times when Mark and the growing team have to deal with my horticultural inquisitiveness. Any way I ordered 3 batches in about the same quantities as I had ordered Grafted Eggplant plugs, as good a guess as any.

Labels for our various Grafted Vegetables had been held up a little. We released the first of the Tomatoes and Eggplants with stock labels from our label manufacturer, these plants really couldn't wait. The Passionfruit on the other hand were going nowhere so we just allowed them to grow bigger and hardened them off quite thoroughly outside. Our labels arrived last Friday so I took a quick photo with my phone, let you know about them on my newsletter and prepared 6 pots each for Di and I to show off on our spec runs....

We have sold all of the first two batches and effectively pre-ordered all of the third and final batch! Passionfruit was not even added to our availability list and I have been roundly ticked off for failing to fill some of the first orders. I have never seen anything like it.

Once again I have to thank our supplier Highsun for the beautiful starter plants they supplied, the grafts are very neat and close to the roots, minimizing (if not eliminating) the number of buds on the rootstock. The trick now is to guess how many to grow next season.

Sadly I can't say the same for Choisya ternata. Great shrub for hedges and sunny positions. I think we have grown them perfectly well but we just can't get the season or the presentation right. The poor things just will not sell.  I have about 1000 x 200mm pots I'm happy to sell off at $2.00each (Ex GST) plus freight (unless you pick them up), minimum order 50 pots. I don't think we'll grow any more Choisya.

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