Friday, June 10, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - June 10, 2016

Soon it will be the summer solstice with its long days pushing growth on all kinds of plants. The vegetable gardens will make phenomenal growth with maybe the first ripe tomato appearing by August 1st. There are 15 elements at least that must come together to accomplish that fresh-picked tomato taste that cannot be found in those that are greenhouse grown or shipped thousands of miles. The Cleveland area was once known as a major area for tomato production in winter with acres of  plants growing in glass greenhouses. Sadly, the energy crisis of the mid 1970's and the resulting spikes in fuel to heat the energy inefficient houses all but shut down the greenhouse tomato industry.

At the nursery, more shrubs and trees from the production area are becoming available. This week, perennials from Michigan have arrived that will be potted up next week and will not be available for sale until April of 2017. Early planning is necessary to have a steady supply of some plants as their development sometimes is painfully slow.

Flower beds around the nursery are just being worked up in order to plant annual flowers at the nursery. Sweet Peet again will be worked into the beds to give them that consistency of “chocolate cake”.

In Akron, one of our customers that gardens to the “max” spent thousands of dollars on just bed preparation and drainage before planting roses, annuals and shrubs. The results are evident with healthy growth and  vibrant and prolific flowering of the plants. As the search for a vaccine for tuberculosis began at Rutgers university in New Jersey, one scientist believed and was later provedcorrect, that the answer would  come out of the soil. So too is good gardening: The answer is in the soil!

Tom

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 27, 2016

A cool May has now suddenly become a summer with warming soils pushing the growth of vegetable plants and flowers. 

Tomatoes and peppers just love the warm nights, too. There is a noticeable growth sprout that plants undergo as their cells divide and expand quickly.

Especially important at the nursery is a necessary constant check for blocked or maladjusted overhead sprinklers around the nursery stock as the 80º+ weather and wind increases the transpiration of water through the plants leaves.

So far, the irrigation water supply is more than adequate although at least one inch of rain per week would be enough to keep it replenished with collecting all the runoff from rain and irrigation.
Memorial Day strangely has been the signal for the start of summer even though summer is more than 3 weeks away! Memorial Day rituals not only include picnics, visiting and decorating the graves of loved ones passed on but also includes planting the veggie garden.  In fact, the entire month of June is ideal for vegetable planting except for maybe the cool loving crops of broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

At the Seiberling Farm in Norton, successive plantings of sweet corn continue even a few days after July 4th!



Coming up in June, too, is strawberry time with roadside stands full of quarts of freshly picked Ohio strawberries only to be overlapped and continued with luscious raspberries and blackberries.

Then there is August for planting turnips, parsnips and carrots as these root crops store nicely in the ground with a layer of straw over the tops to protect them from the bitter cold of winter.

Happy Memorial Day and planting everyone!


Tom

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 20, 2016

Last Sunday morning was certainly cold but was devoid of frost as the wind kept the air from stratifying and leaving frost on the plants.  Again, Monday morning only a very light frost was avoided as the temperature dropped to only 36º F at the nursery and again because of a light wind.

The powerful 20 horsepower electric water pump again came in handy with its 670 gallon per minute pumping capacity that keeps the frost at bay as the warmer irrigation water keeps the plants from freezing and “burning” the new growth on the stock.

The tea, floribunda and knockout roses are budding up nicely and without a hint of disease or unwanted bugs.  The greenhouse too seems to be largely free from mildew and the dreaded botrytis blight thanks to the extra ventilation during cold dark days that favor disease.  Unfortunately, heaters sometimes do automatically turn on but the extra expense is worth it to have higher quality flowers.  The larger annual flowers and huge geranium will have the weather to finally come out of the greenhouse to the display area in front of the store.  Beautiful, compact plants are the norm with an abundance of several radiant colors.  The geraniums from which several batches of cuttings were taken are now about 2 feet wide and full of bloom.  How strange that only 6 weeks ago the plants were cut back to nothing but stubbs and now are gorgeous.  Perennials too have “fluffed out” with more and more different varieties coming on stream from the new Salvia ‘April Night’ and more almost foolproof Igloo mums in the 4½ inch pots that will bloom early this fall.

Soon more of the ever popular Chicagoland Green boxwood will come “out of the oven” as it is growing faster than expected.  Maybe just maybe, there will be no more frost.  We can only hope.

Tom

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 13, 2016

With a couple of cold nights coming up and a danger of frost in open rural areas, gardeners will for sure be covering susceptible plants or at least rising early in the morning to soak the plants with water to preserve the plant cells from freezing and bursting.

Tropical plants and hanging baskets should be brought inside as even if they are not coated with frost, the bloom and new growth production could be stunted for a short time.

Almost everything that we could possibly bring out from the growing area in back has now been displayed so that more stock to fill voids must come from Ohio's nursery belt in Lake County.

Some greenhouse product is already running short from vendors and from our own greenhouse. This is surprising especially since the prime planting season has not yet begun.

The evergreen Azaleas are now on the downside as far as bloom in concerned.  The Rhododendron and Mountain Laurels now just coming into bloom and taking up the lack caused by the Azaleas.

The Korean Lilacs are coming into bloom with their heavy fragrance that soon will be followed by blooming roses of all kinds and colors.

Next will come the pink and blue tones of the macrophylla hydrangeas to be followed by the white and pink tones of the panicle group.

For the next 2-3 months at least, you could say its nothing but a bloom fest at the nursery!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 6, 2016

While the weather has been somewhat cool with cold nights the first week of May, unusual it is not.  What is unusual is that most areas here have not experienced a severe frost which may be creating a sense of “planting” security for more inexperienced gardeners.  Normally, the last for sure frost free date for northern Ohio is May 30th which about 2 weeks earlier for southern Ohio.  While seeds and cold tolerant vegetable plants such as broccoli and cauliflower should go in now,  tomatoes and peppers are better planted at least after the middle of May.

In the greenhouse we had a very localized infestation of an insect called a thrip which we were able to wipe out over a two week period by isolating the plants and treating them.  This nasty insect can quickly get out of control and ruin flowers and even kill plants.  Our scouting program in which we search for insect, disease and spider mites makes it possible to react quickly to get the problem under control as one of the worst aggravations for a customer is to have purchased plants with bugs!

With Mother’s Day weekend coming up and expected beautiful weather, the nursery should be quite busy so that we’ve opened up at least 20 more parking places and have extra help on hand to help customers load their vehicles.  The month of May is everyone’s favorite gardening month as  the cooler weather, usual sunshine and the incredible beauty of spring is on display that excites everyone.  Almost 100 years ago, the spring was much cooler as photos of the old farm house dated May 10, 1923 show children standing on the north side of the barn with their winter coats  and boots on which appears to be at least 6 inches of snow! It is unlikely we’ll experience anything like a deep snow in May although I’m not betting on a frost free may either.  Let’s just enjoy the weather whether it’s rain or shine.

As we all know, gardening can be addictive but as always. It beats watching television!

Tom

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - April 29, 2016

The end of April has finally seen the opening of the annual flower greenhouse. The fulfillment for us is the evidence of all the hard work that began last September with the rooting of flower cuttings, the transplanting, the trimmings, the spacing, the removal of old flowers, the insect and disease control. Well, I think the picture is evident as John Ravenstein, the famous propagator for Losely Nursery in Perry, Ohio once stated “ a greenhouse is worse than a baby. If you have a kid he goes away in 20 years but the greenhouse is still there!” What he was referencing is the fact that annual flowers in a greenhouse must be tended constantly and very carefully or the results will not be good.

The azalea in bloom are gorgeous with the colorful blossoms creating a huge kaleidoscope of color that will be followed by blooming rhododendron, later blooming azalea and gorgeous mountain laurels. Then too, the Eastern redbuds continue to bloom along with flowering crabapples and emerging dogwoods.

As one of the nursery’s radio commercials touts, “there are flowers everywhere in every nook and cranny! Come see for yourself this beautiful display of spring.

Tom

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - April 22, 2016

Needless to say it but the weather factor, for mid-April, has definitely had a “ wow” factor in it. At least 2 inches of rain fell on April 11th that was quite a blessing and more has fallen this past week among the long stretches of sunny weather. Cool nights in the upper 30's and 40's have made it ideal hardening-off weather for the perennials so that they are able to get used to the cold nights when they are planted outside in their new homes.

The annual flower house is bursting with growth with the sun and warm temperatures but will not open until Saturday, April 28th which even then I think is too early. A few years ago I received a call from a Wadsworth resident that planted out flowers on April 20th only to be distraught that it looked like the several flats of annual flowers she planted appeared as though they were dying on April 24th. I replied that it is from the hard frost we received on April 23rd. She asked what she should do and I said “nothing”. Fortunately, she did not buy the flowers from the nursery as the greenhouse did not open until May 1st of that year.

This week and through mid-May seems to be creeping phlox week as the ground cover has exploded into bloom with shades of pink, purple, blue and pure white! In 2009, the boulder wall on the north side of the colorful groundcover was planted and every year since then sets the hill ablaze with patches of pink and blue. What’s so amazing is that this seemingly delicate groundcover has taken the blasts of winter directly from cold northwest winds in the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 with never a problem. Creeping Phlox is even salt tolerant so that it can be planted close to the road!

The azaleas are showing color now also which is a week earlier than normal but I think plenty of color will be displayed for Mother’s Day.

At the nursery the behind-the-scenes activities seem to be never ending!

Tom