Most people probably don't know what goes into producing high quality, ball and burlap trees. So much happens behind the scenes. Here is a little peek at what goes on.
First of all, our arborist goes out into the field and flags the trees to be spaded with different colors of plastic ribbon. He knows what sizes they are, because we mark them when we inventory them. Evergreens get a color-coded zip tie and deciduous trees receive a colored mark on their trunks. After all of the trees are flagged, the guys head out into the field. They use whichever spade corresponds best to the size of the trees they're digging at the time and place each tree in a burlap-lined wire basket.
Here are some action shots that I took a couple of years ago. The date stamp is totally wrong. I am pretty sure this was 2013 or 2014.
Once the trees are spaded, they are loaded up onto trailers and hauled out of the field. After that happens, they are shrink wrapped and placed into sockets in the ground. Then they each receive and irrigation emitter that keeps them properly watered until they are sold and planted.
We have fancy equipment for moving our trees around that makes everything much easier. It's almost like playing a video game, except you are in a Bobcat for hours...and hours. You can see our nursery jaws pretty well in this picture. The weather was really nice in early April a few years ago when this picture was taken and the guys wrapped trees outside. Sometimes, it is too cold and windy to do that...like this year.
I hope you enjoyed my little snapshot of our world! Now you know a little more about what goes into producing a B&B tree.
This spring has me feeling like I'm stuck on a seesaw here at the nursery. The weather fluctuates drastically from day to day, puzzling even the most accurate prognosticators. Last week, I was planning on uncovering all of our overwintered shrubs and perennials today. My how things change! With lows in the mid to upper 20's predicted for Thursday and Friday, I am forced to wait another week. Our flowers have been flourishing under the plastic and their new, succulent growth won't tolerate the less pleasant conditions beyond their cozy foam blankets. I only hope that they don't cook under there; as most gardeners prefer their plants raw. Gambling is not my thing and this is the time of year when I'm forced to roll the dice. Quite a few peer-owned nurseries have already taken the plunge and uncovered their plants. Some theorize that doing this will slow down growth and harden it off. All my mind's eye can see when I contemplate this strategy is my happy new growth turning black from frost. Only time will tell who's approach was the best.
In the greenhouse, however, things are going splendidly! While it looks a bit empty at the moment, more plants should be arriving today and next week. Folks in other areas are dealing with weather related ramifications too, so some of our plants were back ordered. When you consider that we began planting bare-root shrubs on March 15th, I would say that we are making good progress. Our Alpine Currants are already loaded with tiny leaves and our Standing Ovation Serviceberries are blooming!
Another of this year's early victories is the addition of a potting annex to our big greenhouse. In the past, we have potted just about everywhere. At first, we planted shrubs in our equipment shop. This didn't really work for anyone. The guys hated having their shop messed up and the crew hated having to move all the plants to the greenhouse. Eventually, we started potting in the big greenhouse. This kind of worked, but only one of our skid loaders barely fit through the doors with buckets and pallets of potting soil. We gradually had to work our way out of the greenhouse as we potted and quarters were tight. Now, we have this!
I owe a great deal of gratitude to my boss, Jesse Kahnke, and all of my co-workers who worked on this project. They have spent over two weeks fixing everything that wasn't quite right with both greenhouses and our outdoor production areas. We are really ready to go now! Each year, we refine our processes a little more. When you work with living things, you never really perfect your techniques because the variables keep changing. Adaptation is key! With any luck, Mother Nature will be content with our willingness to cater to her whims and we will be able to uncover plants next week.
My name is Connie Kratzke. I have worked with Kahnke Brothers for 16 years. During this period, I have done everything from watering the plants to designing our website. My role at the nursery involves selling stock, managing inventory, marketing plants and overseeing the production of shrubs and perennials. Sometimes I sit at a desk and other times I can be found in a Bobcat. During my career here, I have become a MNLA Certified Professional. I am also an at large member of the Minnesota Grown Promotion Group/Minnesota Grown Advisory Committee. Currently, I serve as City Arborist for Silver Lake, Minnesota, and a member of their planning commission. My focus is on helping our clients succeed with their landscaping efforts. Education is a huge factor influencing that success. Keeping it real is my strategy. Through sharing my experiences at the nursery and at home, I hope to debunk myths and eliminate concerns. At the same time, I want people to be aware of what doesn't work. Living things are somewhat unpredictable, but they all have basic needs. Understanding how to fill those needs while simultaneously achieving landscape goals is a process that I want to share with as many people as possible, because I truly enjoy it.