I have listened to various customer feedback along with my own desire to make changes for 2020 and find ways to do the orders better along with MUCH better customer service and have already made some big decisions for next year.
The First issue was I didn’t sow early enough this year for growing under polythene for the first time as opposed to under glass as I had been for the last 10 yeas although that in part was partly down to the issues I had with the delivery of the propagation greenhouse that was sent back thanks to a lying courier and the requirement then to find an alternative.
So for 2020 I will sow the Aubergines and Peppers in late December to Early January at the latest and the Tomatoes at the end of January to aim to start deliveries in mid March. The plants will then be potted on and grown on as your order so when it comes to the time for it to be dispatched we can just lift it and pack it without the need for picking orders from thousands of plants which is hugely time consuming if you cant find them.
The next major change is I will be bringing in a fixed delivery slot by way of adding a plugin to the website which will allow you to select the day you want your delivery I would have preferred as selecting a week for delivery but don’t think I can do that I wont know until I add the plugin so whatever delivery day you select it will come that week as we tend to do large orders that need to go by courier at the start of the week and smaller orders on a Thursday
So there will be at least 20 delivery slots available each day for every Wed/Thur/Fri per week every week from mid March to the Mid May as that’s our delivery days (subject to the delivery method But it will for that week and subject to growing conditions) It will work like you would do to select days to stay at a hotel or book travelling times on a website.
So customers who want to get their plants early will need to get their orders in very early. Once all the delivery slots are filled which will be approx 600-700 orders that will be it until much nearer the end of delivery season when I may open them up to more orders in April/May once we are sure we have delivered all the orders from the daily delivery slots, This will help me to plan much better and will mean you get the plants the week you want them and cut out the need for people to e-mail me as to when their orders are coming as you will know in advance also with set delivery dates for each order I will then be able to pick up and inform you of any issues with that order much sooner. All in all it will help me build a complete flow from sowing to delivery and have the right plants growing at the right time for those orders, You may well ask why I have not done that before well the simple answer is until this year I have not had a website that I can add plugins too to do such things. Or the growing capacity/Room to able to do it this way
Because at the end of the day I am passionate about the tomato varieties I can offer and just want you to enjoy the tomatoes I grow as I do, Believe me it really upsets me when I fail to deliver orders on time or when ive completely failed that I have to refund you that’s not what I am here to achieve I’m here to help people grow the best tasting tomatoes in the world so any failure on that really breaks my heart So anything I can add to the order process that will enable me to achieve the aim of you growing tasty tomatoes is a must.
As I said I plan to sow early enough to enable us to make the orders up well before dispatch, so we can just lift them to pack I had hope to do that this year But the delays with the new propagation tunnel and getting everything in place after the move meant it was not possible this year But everything is in place now for next year.
Also, growing over 700 varieties brings its challenges But that’s also my USP and makes me so unique, so I don’t want to dilute that But there are varieties I don’t sell which I will probably drop once ive used the seed up and a good few we don’t sell many of so what I am considering although that’s still in development is to only have the top maybe 150 -200 or maybe up to half the varieties in the website shop with full descriptions etc depending on how how many ive sold of them when I download the final sales figures and the rest as a list on a seperate page that you can order by e-mail and I will send you an invoice for those and they are then grown specifically to order and may only be available until say Feb to give me the time to grow them to order . This will cut down how much I need to sow, pot and grow on whilst still giving you the biggest choice available and cut down on wastage.
The next thing is how the plants have done this year The Petri dish method of sowing I have used so successfully for the last 4 years when I sow on blotting paper and cover the seed with vermiculite has not been so good this year I have found the plants have struggled more in the heat of the polytunnel and when potted on they have struggled and not grown anywhere near as fast as in previous years so that’s caused some delays to orders too I am not sure if it’s the difference of growing under polythene to glass or just that the tunnel at the new place is in full sun whereas the greenhouses at my previous nursery was surrounded by tall trees so was shaded some of the day I’ve also found the plants are struggling a bit in the Coir pots possibly for the same reason, and they are drying out much quicker. It may be that I may have to grow everything in 9 cm pots again
All in all I have a lot of positives to take from this year But A lot to learn and improve on !!