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1. (WO2003082710) PROCEDE DE CONDITIONNEMENT ET D'EXPEDITION DE PLANTES ET DE BULBES, ET CONDITIONNEMENT UTILISE A CET EFFET
Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

Title: Method and package for packaging and shipping plants or bulbs.

The invention relates to a method for packaging and shipping bulbs or plants and a package for use in such method. More in particular, the invention relates to a method for packaging and shipping bulbs, which are already, or are on the verge of growing roots and/or a neck and/or stem.
It is known to nurse bulbs at one location and ship them to a next location where they can grow further and bloom. One problem encountered during shipment, in particular when the bulbs or plants have already started to sprout, is to package and protect the bulbs in such a way that they will not damage during shipment and subsequent handling and furthermore, at the final destination, can be easily removed from the package without causing any damage.
It is an object of the invention to provide a method for packaging bulbs or plants grown from bulbs, wherein these bulbs or plants are held for preparation, storage, shipment and display, as well as for growing.
It is another object of the invention to provide a method as outlined hereinabove, wherein the preparation and early development stage of the bulbs or plants can be separated, in time and place, from the final growing and blooming stage of these bulbs or plants.
It is another object of this invention to provide a method as indicated hereinabove wherein a plurality of bulbs and/or plants can be accommodated and shipped in a single package.
It is yet another object of the invention to provide a method for packaging bulbs or plants, wherein said bulbs and plants are held sufficiently securely so that they will not be disarranged and damaged during shipment and further handling.
It is another object of the invention to provide a method for packaging bulbs or plants, wherein the bulbs and plants are held in position and allowed to grow a neck and/or stem.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a package for the preparation, storage, shipment and display, in which a neck and/or stem is allowed to grow, without causing damage to the final product-performance.
Another object of the invention is to provide a package as indicated hereinabove, which is relatively inexpensive to manufacture and has an attractive appearance.
It is another object of the invention to provide a package, which, at a final destination, can at least partly be removed.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a package which allows for simple removal of the or each bulb or plant from the package without damaging it, especially the roots.
These and other objects and advantages are achieved with a method according to claim 1.
With a method according to the present invention the bulbs are sandwiched between a bottom part and a cover part, which parts are pressed towards each other by means of suitable closing means, such as, for instance, a strap, tape or an elastic band. The bulbs are thus secured in a position-retaining manner and effectively protected from external forces and shocks, which may occur during shipment and further handling. The bottom and cover part are designed such tiiat the bulbs are allowed to grow roots and/or a stem and/or a neck, while sufficient space is provided for these growing parts in order to develop from their early sprouting stage into their final planting stage, at which point they are ready to be dug into the ground.
The invention further relates to a package according to claim 6, suitable for use in a method according to the invention.
To explain the invention, exemplary embodiments of a method and package according to the present invention will hereinafter be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
Fig. 1 shows bulbs in a package, halfway into a cardboard box;
Fig. 2 shows a package from the top side of the cover part;

Fig. 3 shows a package from the side;
Fig. 4 shows a bulb, growing in a package according to the invention;
Fig. 5 shows a bottom part with a bulb being pressed out through openings in the bottom part;
Fig. 6 shows a bottom part with bulbs and one free bulb showing roots and a stem;
Fig. 7 schematically shows a packaging method and growing process according to the invention, in top and side view; and
Figs. 8 and 9 show the packaging of a package according to the invention.
Fig. 1 shows a package 1, which is partly enclosed by a cardboard box 3 and filled with bulbs or plants 2 for shipment to a customer or final growing location. The plants 2 may be grown from rootstock or from bulbs such as tulips, narcissus, amaryllis and the like. The package 1 comprises a bottom part 4 and a cover part 6, which are held together by closing means 7, such as for instance an elastic or sealed strap or adhesive tape. The bottom part 4 has a substantially rectangular shape and may be manufactured from various materials such as, for instance, cardboard, papier-mache or a plastic material, in particular foam, such as for instance E.P.S or combinations of these materials.
The bottom part 4 is provided with two rows of frustoconically shaped holes 10, as can be seen in Fig. 7. The holes 10 are accessible from at least one side 12 of the bottom part 4, which side 12, in use, faces the cover part 6. For reasons which will be explained below, the holes 10 are preferably also accessible from the opposite side 14, for instance by means of openings 15 (as illustrated in Fig. 7) or by means of weak, easy to penetrate or removable zones in the bottom part 4. The cover part 6, at least the one shown in the embodiments of Figs. 1 - 3, is identical to the bottom part 4. Preferably, the top side 16 of said cover part 6 is provided with similar openings or weak spots 15 as the ones described in the bottom part 4, for reasons which will become clear hereinafter.
The package 1 can be used in the following manner. The bulbs or plants 2 to be shipped can be placed on top of or at least partly in the holes 10 of the bottom part 4. Prior to this, the holes 10 can be filled with a growing medium such as soil or a suitable substitute, thus creating rooting cups 10 in which the bulbs or plants 2 can grow roots 20, as illustrated in Fig. 7.
Subsequently, the bulbs or plants 2 are secured in place by covering them with the cover part 6. The cover part 6 itself may be firmly pressed onto the bottom part 4 by means of the aforementioned closing means 7. The holes 10 in the cover part 6 allow for the bulbs and plants 2 to grow a stem and/or neck 18 and at the same time support and protect this stem or neck 18 against detrimental external influences. The openings 15 or weak spots in the top side 16 of the cover part 6 allow unhampered growth of the stem or neck 18 of the bulb or plants 2 as far as outside the package 1. This is particularly advantageous when, having arrived at the final destination, the bulbs 2 are put in the ground with the package 1 still around them.
Figure 7 shows an alternative embodiment of a cover part 6', in which the cover part 6' is formed from a single sheet made of, for instance, cardboard or plastic material. In this embodiment, after the bulbs 2 have been placed in the bottom part 4, the sheet 6' is simply folded around the top side 12 of the bottom part 4, thereby covering the bulbs 2, and is subsequently attached to the sides of the bottom part 4 by means of, for instance, nails or glue. Like in the previous embodiment, preferably, the cover part 6' is provided with openings 15' or made of weak material, which, during growth and preparation of the plant or bulb 2, gives way to the pressure of, or provides space for the growing shoot 18.
After the bulbs 2 have been packed in the bottom and cover part 4, 6 as described hereinabove, the package 1 can be placed in a normal cardboard box 3 for further shipment, as shown in Figs. 1, 8 and 9. Having arrived at the final destination, the package 1 is removed from the box 3 and the cover part 6 or 6' is lifted. Subsequently, the bulbs 2 can be removed from the bottom part 4 without disturbing the rooting, by extending a finger or some tool, like a pencil, through the openings or weak spots 15 in the bottom part 4, for pushing the bulbs 2 upwards, out off the holes 10, as illustrated in Fig. 5 and 6. The bulbs or plants 2, which will then look like the one shown in Fig. 4, may then be planted into a final planting medium.
Alternatively, when planting the bulbs at their final growing place, the package 1 can be left around the bulbs 2. In that case the bottom and cover part 4, 6 should be made of suitable material, which, on the one hand, is strong enough to keep the soil and roots 20 in position during transport and, on the other hand, allows for growth of the roots 20 and stem 18 once the bulbs are planted at their final growing place.
In an preferred embodiment, at least the bottom part 4 and preferably also the cover part 6 are made of a decomposable or biodegradable material. In that case, after arriving at the final destination, the plants or bulbs 2 can be placed in the soil in the package 1, without any part of this package 1 having to be removed. This may save a lot of time and prevent the bulbs 2 even better from getting damaged during handling, since no package 1 or parts thereof need to be removed.
Thus, a package 1 according to the invention can effectively hold and protect bulbs or plants as from their early development stage, during storage, display and shipment, throughout their final growing and blooming stage, at which point the package can be. either removed or be left around the bulbs while the bulbs are dug into their final growing place.
Preferably, a package according to the invention is substantially block-shaped, so it can be manufactured and stacked in a simple manner, requiring minimal space.
By using an exterior package, in particular a closed outer package, the advantage is achieved that the box is closed and no sand and the like can escape therefrom. As a result, the package is particularly suitable for use by, for instance, mail order firms and supermarkets. A cover part according to the invention is preferably designed such that, in use, it both presses the bulbs into the bottom part and offers protection to the bulbs and the stem, at least plant parts growing therefrom in the package, while, preferably, the packages are stackable. It has appeared that with a method and package according to the invention, the bulbs are well protected against, for instance, damage and dehydration, and therefore, in a simple manner, allows plants and flowers growing therefrom to bloom in areas which, normally, would not be suitable to that end.
The invention is by no means limited to the embodiments as described. For instance, the dimensions of the bottom and cover part 4, 6, the number of holes 10 provided therein, the position of these holes 10 and the shape thereof can be varied. The shape can for example be cylindrical, rectangular or pyramid-shaped. Also, the parts can be made from various materials or combinations of materials such as cardboard, papier-mache or plastic.