Friday, July 31, 2009

Dayton "Dirt' July 31, 2009

Work is finished on our site preparation for our new building that will rise high on a hill when approaching the nursery traveling south on Cleveland-Massillon Rd.

The “barn” with a gambrel roof will be used for a meeting area for seminars, or a wide variety of gardening types and for flower shows such as those for roses, german iris, dahlias and such.

I’m really excited as the building will be heated with an in-floor heating system with hot water being pumped from a boiler with a series of tubes under the floor.

Many aspects of the building will be “green” with an R-60 insulation in the ceiling, R-25 in the walls and a special “E” glass that will keep out cold in winter and heat in summer better than ordinary glass.

A wrap around porch will have a green roof in which multiple varieties of Sedum will grow on the roof reducing runoff and absorbing the hot rays of the sun.

Another “eco-friendly” aspect of the new building is that I plan to use LED lights instead of fluorescent or incandescent as LED lights are up to 90% more efficient than incandescent. I don’t know for sure if LED lighting will become a reality this year as the technology is not yet quite there.

The runoff from the huge roof area will drain back to our irrigation lake so there will be no additional runoff to Van Hyning Run to contribute to flooding during heavy rains.

Even though our new building has all the modern construction and conveniences, it will appear to be in a style reminiscent of large dairy barns of 150 years ago and more as I wanted it to fit in with the home that was built about 1870.

Construction will start in the next 30 days and we hope to move in by Christmas.

Come by later and take a look.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Dayton "Dirt' July 24, 2009

As I mentioned before, our new crop of blueberries are now available including the late bearing Elliot, the early bearing Earliblue and the half-high varieties that grow low and compact.

Some scientists have coined the phrase brainberries when referring to blueberries as experiments using mice show that the brain’s cognitive abilities are enhanced with the gradual aging of the mind slowing down.

Its still not too late to spread Merit on your lawn to control Japanese beetle grubs but time is running out as the product will not be effective if put down too late (after Aug 15th).

The botanical garden, Wolf Creek Gardens, is shaping up with the construction of boulder walls to contain a hillside planting of dwarf conifers. Many of the boulders weight two to two and a half tons each!

A large island of topsoil with Sweet Peet was formed last fall for a perennial planting and will include coneflowers, Shasta daisies, German Iris, grasses, Happy Returns daylilies and Geranium Rozanne planted in masses in order to project a bold statement. This planting is just west of the shady Rhododendron-Azalea planting to which we added a few more varieties this summer.

Be sure to take advantage of the coupons available on our website for special “deals” on many different things.

We’re just finishing up on cuttings of different shrubs and will be waiting for them to finish rooting in about 4-8 weeks depending on the type. Some plants will over- winter fine without any heat but others such as Azaleas, Rhododendron and blueberries will require a minimum heat (above 40 degrees) in the greenhouse where they will grow roots all winter and then will explode into growth beginning in February.

Well, so long for now, I’ve go to get planting.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Dayton "Dirt' July 18, 2009

In all of my recent blogs, I have been silent about the progress of our botanical display garden called Wolf Creek Gardens.

The reason for my silence is that while we have made much progress in the plantings, installation of water lines and road building, there is still more to do. More plantings are going on right now in our dwarf conifer garden and Rhodoendron-Azalea garden. Another planting underway is a large island of perennials and shrubs to display ribbons of color in the summer!

Perhaps the largest project is the construction of a barn to be used for offices, produce market and a seminar room as a gateway to the garden.

The barn will be of a style of a Wisconsin dairy barn with a gambrel roof similar to the one that stood on the property for almost 100 years on the same site before it burned in 1963.

My hope is to open the garden by the spring of 2010 even though much work will still be in progress.

Much of the planting has been going on for 3 years so that some of the plants are becoming well-established.

The established plants include a collection of European Beech varieties, Dogwood cultivars, Eastern Redbuds, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, numerous pines, firs and spruce as well as a hedge row of tall western red cedar. The purpose of the garden will be foremost educational but my hope is that many of you that come to visit us will simply enjoy walking through the garden.

Back to work for me.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dayton "Dirt' July 10, 2009

I wonder how many of you have gotten the first ripe tomato of the season. I know I’m just about ready because my Earth Box tomatoes are growing like crazy! The scientifically designed box allows for maximum growth and production of the fruits due to its great soil mass and water reservoir below it. Its amazing how much food can be grown in a limited amount of space!

If you have not done it yet, trim back your shrub roses and spireas now to get spent flower heads out of the way of new growth to allow for more flowering a little later.
This “trick” will not work with spring flowering plants as they are “programmed” to bloom only in spring. However, removing spent flowers or a light trim will mean more new growth and thus, more blooms for next spring.

Right now, we’re taking cuttings of Azaleas, Blueberries and many different shrubs that will start to be available two years from now. It’s a long process from a cutting to a saleable plant, but one that’s rewarding and enables us to control the production process. For example, years ago I attempted to purchase small Azaleas to sell but the plants always seemed to be pot bound.

Other items that I tried to purchase were not trimmed to my liking.

Also, many new plants that we introduce are patented and are not available in a larger size from local wholesale nurseries. In this case, we buy the plant liners from licensed growers and grow them on to a saleable size.

Another advantage to our propagation and growing operations is that we learn what production techniques make the plant “happy” and then we can pass along what we’ve learned to our customers.

Later on, I’ll let you know what new things were working on!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tom Dayton's "Green Blog" July 2009

Sometime ago, I told you about a lawsuit near Portland, Oregon that resulted in plant nurseries and other agricultural interests not allowing runoff water from their land flowing into waterways, more specifically the Tualatin River.

Even though there are now no regulations of runoff from plant nurseries (more than I know of) the time is coming when the EPA will regulate this runoff which pollutes streams and rivers with fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. We’re fortunate in that we recycle all our water and collect rain water and snow melt water to store in our lake so that almost no water leaves the property. I am especially interested in water pollution issues as water is the essential “life blood” of our business as well as to all of us.

While this case in its scope has significant implications across the country, I think a more interesting scenario is about to unfold right here in Ohio.

The case involves a well known retailer in which the runoff water from the parking lot is laden with salt during winter and flows into a retention basin so that the water may seep into the ground without contributing to flood waters from the added runoff from the black top parking lot.

A plant nursery which is located “downstream” from the aquifer running under this retention pond is causing high salt levels in one of their irrigation ponds to the extent that the pond is unsuitable for irrigation.

Tests have revealed that the salts are originating from the property of the retailer.

What makes the case so interesting is that road salt is not regulated as a pollutant by EPA but can have profound negative effects on ground water.

Already in New England, there are areas of increasingly saline ground water due to road salt as reported recently on National Public Radio.

From my own experience as I’ve told you before, we cannot use the seemingly clear water from the Van Hyning Run that runs through the nursery property to irrigate our plants because of the high levels of salt, presumably from road salt.

The implications of regulating this or the elimination of road salt as its use as a de-icer are vast as most of us want to drive on winter roads as if it were summer and without worrying about the safety hazards to ourselves and others when roads are treacherously icy. It will be interesting to watch as the future unfolds on this salt issue.

The owner of the nursery told me that he has hired an attorney to take this case as far as it will go even if it must be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court!

I’ll keep you posted as this case unfolds.


Dayton "Dirt' July 4, 2009

Happy July 4th! I’m sure we are mindfull of what this birthday celebration of our nation really means. July 4th too reminds me of fireworks, family picnics, fishing, boating or whatever else you may enjoy.

I’m sure many of you will be harvesting vegetables right out of your garden for your family picnic.

This day for me was also the last day to plant warm season vegetables from seed as any later planting may or may not “make it” because of the declining day length and cooler nights.

In the flower or vegetable garden, July is a good feeding time for various types of caterpillars from the insect order called Lepidoptera. These little critters can eat up a tomato plant, perennial Hibiscus or Hollyhock in no time. A good organic control is to spray with a bacteria known as BT (Bacillus thunbergiensis) or Spinosad. These organic products are safe to use for you and the environment.

If you have not applied a grub control to your lawn and have had trouble before please do it quickly by using a product containing Merit. This product must be applied soon to achieve the maximum effectiveness to kill the lawn killing grubs that will hatch out around Labor Day resulting from the egg laying activities of Japanese Beetles and European Chafer adults.

Now would also be a good time to fertilize, stir and water your mulch beds to prevent the colonization of the shot gun fungus which can shoot its resin to stick on the siding of your home.

When bacteria are active in your mulch from moisture and nitrogen, they out compete and prevent the formation of this nuisance fungus.

Another application of Preen Weed Preventer to your landscape would be wise if it has been 3 months or more. Remember, Preen is a weed preventer and not a weed killer.
Also, Preen will not control the common ragweed or Canada thistle. There are other herbicides that will control these two nuisance weeds but these herbicides are not safe to use on many plants.

Oh well, I guess we can’t have everything. I’ve got to go, I’ve got lots of weeds to pull.