Friday, September 9, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - September 9, 2016

Finally, with a few cooler nights the chrysanthemums are showing more color. There have been other years too when bloom has been significantly delayed such as the hot, dry year of 1991 that ironically became abnormally cool in early November when temperatures plunged to 12ยบ F! Although some relief from the drought has arrived in rainfall and somewhat cooler temperatures, more rain would be needed to end the dryness deeper into the ground.

With the hot weather, insects have been producing more generations of young which in turn has caused problems with plants. One significant insect is the lacebug which attacks azaleas (deciduous and evergreen) as well as small-leaved rhododendron such as PJM. The adult which appears  to be a small clear-winged fly, can be found on the undersides of the plant’s leave’s. The nymph stage of this insect does the real damage as they pierce the underside of the leaves to extract the plant’s fluids while it turns the leaves to a bronze-like color instead of the usual verdant green. This invasive bug was a problem for the south for years as it was first observed in mobile, Alabama in 1927. About 10 years ago, I first observed an infestation of this insect on some beautiful Azalea Boudoir in Barberton, Ohio.

For heavy infestations, spraying the plants now with an insecticide containing the active ingredient called acephate will kill adults and nymphs with the acephate’s systemic qualities. A follow up spray about 10 days later will finish off the second generation that will hatch from eggs as the eggs are not affected by the acephate. Afterwards, the plants must be sprayed right after bloom in spring and another repeat spray about ten days later to keep them free of the lacebug. One such trade name for acephate is called Bonide Systemic Insect Spray that is a concentrate to be diluted with water at a rate of 1½ fluid ounces of Bonide to 1 gallon of water to be sprayed on the plants to the point of runoff. Other brands of this insecticide might have different dilution rates due to varying amounts of concentration so that with any insecticide it is imperative to follow the directions on the container.  Another plus to using acephate is that it is not a neonicitinoid that will harm beneficial pollinators such as honeybees and bumble bees that might visit blooming plants.

For sure the chrysanthemums will color beautifully but it remains to be seen if Ohio will be painted with colorful changing leaves or if the dryness of this summer will affect the color.

Que sera sera.

Tom

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - September 1, 2016

Friday is the first day of our fall sale with many items (but not all) marked down 50%.  Almost all perennials, roses, some trees and shrubs are in the sale and those that are not are from this spring’s and summer’s production so that these plants are for next spring’s sales although they can be sold this fall.  As always, the first four days of the sale will only be open to garden club members only and then everyone may take advantage of the sale prices after Labor Day.  Many items are limited so that on Friday , many or most desirable specimens probably will be sold.

How strange it is that even the Igloo mums are barely showing color as these Dendranthemums typically are in peak bloom about a week after Labor Day.  For many varieties of chrysanthemum, it looks as though the bloom period will be two or even three weeks later so that mid September  through October will now be the riot of color these plants will display.  At the nursery, colored signs accurately show color on the Igloo mums with the individual plants tagged according to variety.  Even our large 12" garden mums will be tagged according to color.

The storms last Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday nights have dropped almost two inches of rain that surely does give relief from the drought.  Some more of at least another two inches would be great but this weekend at least looks sunny and not overly hot.

Enjoy the good weather this Labor Day weekend!

Tom

Friday, August 26, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - August 26, 2016

Late August is the time that many trees and shrubs have been brought out of the growing area to the sales area that will give the nursery the appearance of a full look that has not been seen since last June. The first of September will bring another flush of trees and shrubs such as arborvitae, pyramidal boxwood and Green Giant Western Red Cedar in a variety of sizes.

Our biggest sale of the year will start Labor Day weekend on Friday, September 2nd and as always garden club members will have the first pick of the sale items including trees, shrubs, roses and perennials. This garden club member sale only will run through Labor Day with the sale open to everyone after Labor Day. To become a garden club member, just fill out the form in person or online to get the sale price the same day even if you’re not currently a member. Please remember to use any of your Dayton Dollars by August 31st as afterwards the value will be zero.  While much will be on the 50% off sale, some items will not be on sale because they just came out of back stock or have been freshly dug. Please look for the 50% off sale signs to indicate which items are on sale as those without the sign will be the price as stated on the tag.

Mums, (including Igloo types) asters, ornamental kale and cabbage will be in good supply although most of the chrysanthemums will not be in full color due to the warm nights which has caused the phenomenon known as heat delay. Compared to last year, the heat has delayed flowering from about 10 days to 2 weeks! Most likely, mid September will be the time for brilliant mum color. Remember too that Chrysanthemum morifolium, known as the garden mum, is a tender perennial and may or may not return again in spring. A more reliable, almost sure-to-return mum is the Dendranthemum or more commonly called the Igloo mum which is much more winter hardy than the garden mums. New colors in the Igloos are available this year so that this color palette keeps growing in the genus.

The approaching month of September will bring sowing of new lawns and lawn renovations as September is the month for it.

Happy planting.

Tom

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - August 19, 2016

As August rolls on, all garden club members should remember to use up their Dayton dollars they have received as they are no longer valid after August 31st. These dollars can be used to purchase product just like cash as they are our thanks to you for your past purchases earlier this year. This time of year the inventory selection is not as wide as in spring; however, stock on perennials, trees and shrubs is still quite broad as more and more stock comes out of the growing area in back.  This coming week will begin mum time as the plants begin to show color from cooler nights and shorter days. Then too are perennials asters in their mainly hues of pink and blue which are a favorite of friendly honeybees. Chrysanthemums are defiantly a way to enliven any landscape with color especially after a hot dry summer has been rough on annual flowers.

Again, come on in and spend those Dayton dollars before the expire!

Tom

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - August 12, 2016

The weather this past week has continued quite hot so that the end of August and September will undoubtedly give some relief from the scorching heat. The owl Barn market is stuffed with produce from the local farms especially Seiberling Farms where the sweet corn is developing so quickly that the staggered patches of sweet corn that were meant to ripen in succession are running together. Tomatoes are in abundance as well as beans, cucumbers, onions and new potatoes. Harold in the Highland Square area of Akron has planted grafted tomatoes into a pot with nothing but the product Sweet Peet used as the planting mix. Sweet Peet is nothing more than mainly composted horse manure that has a slightly alkaline nature. Would Sweet Peet be okay for other potted  vegetables? That remains to be seen after more experimenting is done. It’s strange that the local manufacturer of Sweet Peet does not recommend its use as the sale component of a potting mix. The proof is Harold’s experiment in which we have photos on our website showing his fantastic success.

Until early last week, the shade portion of Wolf Creek Gardens was doing  well for water but then the various trees and shrubs planted on the high gravelly soil began showing signs of water stress. A good 3 hour soak from the automatic sprinklers seemed to bring the plants around. For days on end water is still coming in from Van Hyning river to supplement our collected rain water for irrigation. Three inches of rain would lift the water level in the irrigation pond to almost 18 inches but still would not quite fill it. Keep on watering!

Tom

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - August 5, 2016

By now, most gardeners know that a favorite shrub for summer color are the myriad varieties of hydrangeas with their kaleidoscope of colors of summer blooms for full sun or partial shade depending on the variety.

Along the road at the nursery next to the white post and rail fence is the paniculata type hydrangea known as Vanilla Strawberry. Vanilla Strawberry will eventually attain a height of about 6 feet and a width around 4 feet. These hydrangea were planted 3 years ago in November and this year have finally come into their own. Just this past week the pure white flowers have begun to take on a partial strawberry-colored blend; hence, the name, Strawberry Vanilla. Behind the fence are about  20 perennial hibiscus of white, pink and the ever popular deep red color. Some of the plants are big and bulky having been planted almost 10 years ago while others are a mere 2 or 3 branches having been planted only last fall. Soon, all the hibiscus will just peek over the hydrangea and provide a multicolored back drop for the Vanilla Strawberry. Annual flowers are in the foreground to display another riot of color.

At the nursery, another exciting development is the soon to begin installation of solar panels on the main store building. The first phase of construction will cancel out one of the two electric meters on  the building. Within 3-5 years, another phase of construction will eliminate all the other charges from the meters on the property. Even with a long payback period of about 9 years, the solar energy produced will greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the nursery operations and move things closer to the ultimate goal of true sustainability. The solar energy makes good business sense too as the ever more costly electricity from the First Energy Company is becoming too much of a burden on operations. After 9 years, the solar panels will pay nothing but dividends. The hope is that in a few years, an affordable safe battery that can store large amounts of excess power generated in the day will be able to provide power at night to enable the possibility of getting off or almost getting off the grid. Ultimately, the goal here at the nursery is to provide products to beautify the environment without placing a burden on that environment.

Tom

Friday, July 29, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - July 29, 2016

The Cicada damage to trees is quite evident with branch tips of several species of trees dying as a result of the female of the species slicing the tender branch with her ovipositor in order to deposit eggs that will hatch into larvae for the next generation. The spottiness of the cicada presence was amazing as many areas had some to none of the critters while others had a quite heavy presence.

While the media reported and somewhat sensationalized this 17 year phenomenon, it is unfortunate that the same attention was not given to the ash tree killing, non-native Emerald Ash Borer that now has just about completed its spread throughout the eastern United States. Fortunately, the woods surrounding the nursery mainly consists of the wild black cherry and maple with only a small percentage of ash that are now dead or nearly dead from the larvae of this borer feeding on the  phloem tissue of the tree. Another native tree susceptible to this borer is the White Fringe tree that is a native of southern Ohio. This tree was first noticed as being attacked in Yellow Springs, Ohio as fringe trees planted along the road were dying and were found to have this borer. Other replacement shade trees for the ash would include maples, oaks Tulip popular, American Elm (disease resistant strains), Gingkos and many others. The health of forests with life giving trees is not a common topic of concern of the general public. The loss of any species of trees is a natural disaster as it is well known that trees produce oxygen, provide food for wild animals (American Chestnut) store water by preventing excess runoff and resulting floods and provide shade and oxygen for us.

A more efficient and quick reporting system of governmental action must be developed (with adequate funding) to combat future infestation of non-native pests as the present government bureaucracies are too slow to attack a problem in its early stages. In the presence of the constant din of other threats to the national interest, any meaningful change most likely will come very slowly unless billions more of our trees are attacked. As Theodore Roosevelt stated in his 1907 address to the school children of the United States on Arbor day which is partially reproduced here below:

For the Nation as for the man or woman and the boy or girl, the road to success is the right use of what we have and the improvement of present opportunity. If you neglect to prepare yourselves now for the duties and responsibilities which will fall upon you later, if you do not learn the things which you will need to know when your school days are over, you will suffer the consequences. So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal, whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life. A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless; forests which are so used that they cannot renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits. A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it were, a factory of wood, and at the same time a reservoir of water. When you help to preserve our forests or to plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens. The value of forestry deserves,  therefore, to be taught in the schools, which aim to make good citizens of you. If your Arbor Day exercises help you to realize what benefits each one of you receives from the forests, and how by your assistance these benefits may continue, they will serve a good end.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT