Our nurseries cover two sites in the prime agricultural lands of East Lothian and have been designed around the plant container unit so that we grow the healthiest root systems possible for our plants. We are focussed on quality from the start and so must source the best seed available for growing in the UK.
Getting The Right Seed
Jayne Greig, our Seed Manager, runs our sowing operation and is responsible for quality standards at the beginning of our trees life. Many seeds are sown through our modern Sowing Machine, however for big seeds like Oak, Hazel and Chestnut there is no alternative but to hand sow each tree.
Filling the Containers
We have 5 tray filling machines and use a variety of different growing media based on the individual requirements of different species. All our Broadleaves are now grown in a peat-free medium and we are moving more of our Conifer production into Peat-Free compost.
When the seedlings are large enough to be handled, they are transplanted into their final growing cell. We have just invested in a state of the art transplanting machine – and believe we are the first UK tree nursery to do so. This will be primarily used for Conifer species like Sitka Spruce and Scots Pine and give us capacity to transplant many millions more trees. Other species will remain hand-transplanted or ‘pricked in’ for species which need to be sown in a seed tray.
Establishment in the Greenhouses
Early spring crops are protected in growing tunnels until the risk of late frost is past, and species like Oak and Hazel need to spend their first months in tunnels whilst they germinate. Protected growing space is only used at the start of the growing cycle to ensure seedlings have enough warmth to establish within the container, our aim is to get our plants growing outside as quickly as possible to produce strong, hardy trees.
Growing On and Hardening-Off
We now have 4 sites, with a total area of over 80 acres of growing space. Nursery Manager Derek and his team monitor all trees weekly across these sites and supervise the growing process for between 1 and 2 years outside on our nurseries. All trees will experience a full winter of hard Scottish growing conditions, to ensure they are hardy and robust when they are despatched to planting sites.