Growing Methodology | Alpine Nurseries

Alpine Nurseries approach to production and stock maintenance is based on the slogan “Quality Matters”. It is an integral feature of our business, part of the Alpine fabric. Alpine is determined never to lose sight of its quality culture, with expansion of production capability, through development of Alstonville (18 hectares), Alpine Arcadia (8 hectares) and Alpine Advanced (over 1,000 200ltr and 400ltr trees), Alpine has continued to maintain its reputation for quality stock.

This has been achieved by constantly matching the resources and staff ratio at a rate consistent with the rate of development. Keeping this balance in check means existing growing practices can be continually improved as discussed below:

Potting Mix

Several custom made and scientifically formulated potting media are used; one for exotic ornamentals and the other for sensitive native trees and shrubs. Alpine’s potting mix is produced off site using high quality materials, pasteurised, to guard against soil born pathogens and weed seeds that may otherwise lay dormant in the soil, proliferate in the pot and possibly be transferred when planted. The soil has a high AFP rating to promote a healthy vigorous root system and the plants are top dressed with slow release fertiliser to provide all nutrients required for strong healthy growth.

Space

From smallest to largest container size, all Alpine plants are spaced from birth. Space is money and to maximize return some nurseries grow plants pot to pot. Adequate spacing allows light to reach the sides of the pot and from all angles as the sun moves throughout the day. It is sunlight that stimulates growth and the result is an evenly shaped well proportioned plant. Space also breaks the transference of foliar disease such as botrytis. What this means for the nursery is a higher yield and plants that are consistent in height and shape with maximum foliage density for any given species.

Watering

Alpine is an environmentally conscious company and collection of all irrigation runoff is one of many environmentally sound practices undertaken. Collected water is tested and treated before being reused. Irrigation is controlled by hi-tech computer systems that can adjust to changes in temperature, rainfall and time of year. Drippers are used on all advanced stock for greater water efficiency. The Alstonville site is one of the first production nurseries to attain “Ecohort” certification. Ecohort is an environmental management system developed by the Nursery and Garden Industry Association of Australia and endorsed by Horticulture Australia.

Staff

The most significant, practical quality assurance system in place at Alpine is the quality culture that is embedded in all aspects of its business including stock production, stock selection, maintenance, sales processes, human resource management etc.  This culture is embraced by all staff members and continually reinforced by senior management.

Head count is another indication of the quality imperative. Simply put, the greater the ratio of staff per hectare, the better the outcome. With over 100 staff members the ratio of staff per hectare exceeds the industry norm. Our experienced production teams all share a great passion for the horticulture industry and are experience rich. Our production or nursery managers are supported by team leaders, responsible for a particular section of the nursery and great pride is taken in the stock they produce.

In-house Propagation

Propagating plant material gives Alpine ultimate control; the history of product batches is known from the beginning, which is particularly important in efforts to grow to Natspec guidelines. Plant development is at Alpine’s fingertips, enabling selection of plants that demonstrate better vigor or more pronounced foliage or flower colour, and of production batches that are consistent and genetically superior. There are dedicated propagation facilities and trained prop staff at the main 3 sites.

Pruning

Regular pruning and the right technique is a fundamental part of plant maintenance and has a long term bearing over the shape and structure of the plant. A great understanding of the behavior and characteristics of individual species is needed to carry out correct pruning practices. This is another compelling reason why experienced and knowledgeable production staff play such a pivotal role in the quality of Alpine plants.

Natspec

Supply of trees to major Council projects and large scale commercial work is a big part of the business. Natspec features highly on these jobs and Alpine is forever striving to grow to Natspec standards. This is done by constantly refining growing practices. Alpine has already taken many steps to provide conforming trees; all tree stock is root pruned at each potting stage, support staking is removed at an earlier stage and replaced with storm staking allowing the stem to move freely, a squat bag is now being used to encourage a wider and shallower root plate, formative pruning is conducted to achieve good trunk clearance. Alpine is able to complete Natspec assessment forms for any stock grown and welcome customers to visit the nursery and conduct on site inspections.