Alina Strickmann

Quality comes first

Belgian customer testing substrate with wood fibre

Johan Hindryckx (Sales at Klasmann-Deilmann Belgium) pays regular visits to his customers. This time, he wants to ask a commercial grower about how he has fared with Greenfibre, as both supplier and user are only beginning to acquire experience of this alternative raw material for growing bedding plants. Jan Vanoverschelde (Sales & Marketing at Klasmann-Deilmann Belgium) accompanied his colleague and gave us his report.

By Jan Vanoverschelde

Hendrik and Els greet us in the greenhouse. Warmly. Together, the couple runs De Roose Etienne and Hendrik bvba, a wholesale nursery specialising in seasonal crops. We are here just after spring, so Hendrik apologises for the greenhouses being as good as empty. “In May we really do not have time, but then it looks nicer here. Now there is a lot of space…”

“If you come back in August, the chrysanthemums on stems are in bloom and the pyramids are looking good.” Everything the gardener tells you in the next hour speaks of his love for the profession. Care, attention and accuracy. Hendrik De Roose has a clear vision and keeps it in his sights. “We differentiate, focus on niche products and make a choice, which we try to turn into a strength. We distinguish ourselves from the rest. We are not big enough to play it the way the mass growers do. So our aim is to stand out in other respects. Form, quality, service and product range, these are our trump cards. And it’s this that gives us our seasons. First hydrangeas, geraniums, fuchsias and begonias, chrysanthemums in the summer and then the poinsettia. And within these specialisations the emphasis is on decorative plants. Not the traditional pot ‘mums’ for example, but the cascades and pyramids.”

100% of the substrate used here is from Klasmann-Deilmann. “We’ve had a lot of positive experiences with Klasmann-Deilmann. For me the quality of the substrate is paramount. Of course I sometimes get cheaper geranium soil offered. I always turn that down, because it’s product quality that counts. And I can tell you: using cheaper substrate and then having plants that don’t want to root? Those few pennies you saved turn – as fast as lightning – into loss on all fronts. No, I’m doing well with Klasmann-Deilmann. I use specific compositions, in consultation with Johan. We adapt based on typical characteristics present at my company, that way a relationship of trust grows.”

We visit the customer at the right moment, because Hendrik and Johan did some fine-tuning with GreenFibre the past year. “In the previous year, the geranium potting soil took too much water. That way the plant takes up all the water, starts to shoot and, for me, growth inhibition was not possible. I wanted to see a closer dry/wet ratio, so I tested a first order with GreenFibre. I’ve been using it all spring and the plants are keeping the moisture longer. There is a better water distribution.” Johan adds: “We replaced 10% of the white peat with GreenFibre. The rest of the composition has remained the same, because it was not intended to make the substrate much lighter. Hendrik provides water through a sub-irrigation system … These are all factors that you need to keep an eye on when you create a substrate. Hendrik further explains: “It’s a matter of optimising. Asking the right questions and keeping on searching until the result is there. A good bedding plant substrate which is a good sub-irrigation substrate at the same time, it’s not always that simple. As soon as you add GreenFibre, certain things change. It is the experience of the grower that makes the difference at that moment.” Johan concludes: “Searching for compositions, negotiating and – as far as I am concerned – listening well, that’s what it’s all about. That’s how you achieve improvement.”