What should be of great interest to our customers is whether or not we are still acting like we are in business. In response, and the short answer is, that we had 154 people on the payroll last week. And I am hoping that they were all working. We do not want to get to technical here. This is about fully staffed for us. Come summer when pachysandra season is going strong—July through September—we will try to get another 20 or so people on. I do not know if that makes us a little time, a medium time, or a big time operation. What it means is that we produce one and a half million number one pots of perennials a year, which is about half of our market. The other half is tray material—groundcovers and grass/perennial liners.
Being as we think we are big time we now have a social media person on the staff. We think that puts us over into the big time category. The fact that I have never looked at our social media presence makes things a little awkward and now I worry about it. One of the things that I think our computer internet presence does is to provide real time inventory updates. I was happily thinking about this the other day when I broke into a cold sweat thinking that all of this work might be costing us sales. And the reason is because we are continuously potting up containers from February one on through November one and so our real time inventory does not show what we will have a month down the road and the customer may think that we are about to run out of product. That would make me feel real bad, if all of our work ended up sending out the wrong message.
Therefore, try to think like we do for a few minutes—we are always analyzing the historic market and trying to remember when we ran short of inventory and taking that into account. I know it is cheating, but if anyone knows of their plant needs a few weeks or months in advance, we can use that information.
Speaking of groundcovers, that has been a volatile market. When it hit the market a few years ago we were growing Houttuynia cordata ‘Variegata’ like mad and then our conscience started to bother us (the fact that the market died about the same time made that easier to do) and so we have dropped it. The same with Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ which we used to not be able to grow enough of. And now we are looking at way too much Waldsteinia ternata. At least it is not a garden terror like the previously mentioned plants. A few years ago we got a big custom grow order for the native form of this plant, known either as Geum fragarioides or Waldsteinia fragariodes. And so I made a big cutting bed to be ready for the massive demand that we expect for native plants; and the fact that we cannot tell the two varieties—European and native—apart was hopefully not a detriment. No one, and I mean no one has figured out how attractive this plant should be. It should be a hot seller, Geum fragarioides is a native, its common name is Appalachian barren strawberry, and North Creek says that it is carefree. We need to hire whomever they have who writes these descriptions. We are turning our left over Waldsteinia into a very large cutting bed in some obscure corner of the farm for in case we get that happy confluence of events, that lining up of the stars, that long hoped for miracle, of someone with both money and no taste showing up. In the meantime we are here working like there is no virus, no political turmoil, no government going broke, nothing, everything normal.