Friday, October 30, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog November, 2009

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, some aspects of the green energy industry are not so green. Most notably, it is that windmills are killing our birds!

The most notorious wind farm for bird killing according to the article is located at Altamont Pass, California in which estimates are as high as 10,000 birds being killed every year.

Michael Fry, of the American Bird Conservancy, estimates that wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year.

Environmental groups are pushing for a twelve fold increase of generating capacity from wind by 2030 so that we might possibly expect a twelve fold increase in the slaughter of birds from wind turbines.

Oil companies that have been found guilty of killing birds that come into contact with crude oil or other residues from oil operations have received stiff fines under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Even electric utilities such as Pacificorp have paid fines for electrocuting 232 eagles in Wyoming over a two year period because of poorly designed power lines.

What is interesting about the wind turbine industry is that there have been no prosecutions for killing birds as required by the 1918 law. According to Mr. Fry, “Somebody has given the wind industry a get-out-of-jail-free card”.

According to the wind industry’s website, the number of birds killed is small when compared to the number (about 1 billion) that are killed by cats every year.

Robert Bryce, the author of this article, notes that the lawn does not require cats to appear in court and be prosecuted as it would the wind industry.

Rob Lee, of the Fish and Wildlife Service was a lead investigator of bird kills in western oil fields. According to Mr. Lee, solving bird problems in the oil fields was easy and cheap whereas the fix for the wind turbine industry is not easy or cheap.

A larger question according to Robert Bryce who is also the managing editor of Energy Tribune, is why a federal law is being applied with a double standard as federal officials turn a blind eye to the harm done by “green” energy while slapping heavy fines on other industries for bird kills.

Dayton "Dirt" October 30, 2009

With the generally wet and cool October, it has made it more difficult to get all the fall gardening chores done.

At the nursery, we’re just about done potting trees and shrubs for this season. Some new plants that we bought and potted in our greenhouse won’t be ready for sale for at least two to three years such as a new red Mountain Laurel called ‘Firecracker’, a compact yellow Rhododendron called ‘Big Deal’ and a deciduous Azalea that is orange and yellow called ‘Arneson’s Gem’.

These items are just the “tip of the iceberg” of what will be new for 2011 and 2012.

Another nursery chore is putting the trees and shrubs to “bed” that we grew this summer for next spring’s sales. The plants will go into an over-wintering Quonset type structure that will be covered with white polyethylene plastic that will keep the wind and extreme cold off the plants even with no heat in the structures.

Some young stock such as our rooted cuttings from the summer will require a layer of ¼” thick foam to keep them a little warmer so that the bark does not crack on the young plants.

The green roof on our new building has caused quite a stir as many of the persons coming off the street try to figure it out.

I have even heard a comment from the local hardware that some think there are leaves on the porch roof!

Green roof’s are not really that unusual as they city of Chicago has a green roof on city hall as well as scattered green roofs in Columbus and Cleveland State University.

In fact, Stuggart, Germany requires a green roof for projects exceeding certain limits of size.

I’ll be sure to do a more detailed explanation of this roof when I see you at our winter seminars this winter.

Happy Gardening,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" October 23, 2009

The construction of our new barn is going well and I’m particularly excited about the completion of our green roof porch. The multi-colors of the Sedum’s foliage will make the roof appear as Joseph’s Coat, the coat of many colors.

This green roof will reduce water runoff as it will absorb the water and release it slowly.

The other practical aspects of this type of roof is that it evens out temperature extremes on the roof liner which extends the life of the liner.

With the green mass, the inside of a building will remain much cooler due to the evaporation of water from the plants and the absence of a baking hot surface as is the usual case.

We’re in full sway of putting away our backstock of plants and will be putting away the stock for sale next week so that we may start covering our storage houses with white overwintering plastic in early November.

We’ve bought and grown a lot of stock for next spring’s opening and have to be very careful to ventilate the houses and to even water them in the depths of winter.

Rodents can be a problem even though we catch many in mouse traps.

I prefer the storage of plants even with all its headaches as I am able to hand pick the best stock in the fall for later spring sales.

Enjoy the fall as soon Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" October 16, 2009

I was very grateful for the soaking rains in late September and early October as it has been over three weeks since we have had a decent rain.

The rains certainly make it easier for new plantings to get established and that’s what we’ve been doing (planting) in our botanical garden, Wolf Creek Gardens.

Some of the plantings have included a collection of native and hybrid Witchhazels, Dogwoods, the native Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin), various Spruce and Pine as well as multiple shade perennials.

I can’t wait for the mass plantings of white and pink Old-Fashioned Bleeding Hearts to come up.

We had these left over from spring sales as going into summer they have no marketing appeal in that they turn yellow in July as they go dormant and wait for the cool days of April to come up again.

With all of the Rhododendron, Azalea, Mountain Laurel, Eastern Redbuds, Dogwoods, Daffodils and other spring blooming perennial, it should be a glorious show!

Another bed that we planted consists of 25 each of 6 varieties of the large bearded German Iris that will show off their blinding plumage in late May an early June.

Another appeal of interest in spring will be our new daffodil-narcissus planting of at least 20,000 bulbs strong flanked by almost 200 multi-colored creeping phlox that will cascade down the large boulder walls in April and May.

As I have said before, the garden is coming along but it will be awhile before it is at a more finished state due to the constrictions of time and money.

Anyway, I think we’re going to have a spectacular fall show of colors as the rain will actually help with the honing of the various pigments in the plants leaves resulting in this northeastern wondrous show!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" October 9, 2009

Now is the time to be thinking about next spring. I already have mentioned that spring flowering bulbs work great when planted in October and November but if you’re planning to landscape your home or form a new perennial or annual flower bed it is wise to get the beds ready in the fall even if you’re not going to plant next spring.

It’s still early enough to spray existing weeds with Roundup, especially perennial weeds that will go into overdrive at the first sign of spring weather. Also adding soil and/or soil amendments is a good idea in fall as sometimes the weather in early spring is not agreeable as it is sometimes far too wet.

Forming a landscape bed now and covering it with a thin layer of mulch will prevent any soil erosion or mud splash on any structure.

With the beds finished, planting can begin much earlier in spring than if beds needed to be prepared in spring.

Another advantage of the fall preparations for a new garden works especially well for a vegetable garden is that weeds are under control for the most part and early planting of cold tolerant crops could begin in mid March if the ground is not frozen.

I’m taking my own advice as we are planning a major planting for an annual flower bed to test new varieties of proven winner annuals.

Another project that we’ll be working on are getting some raised beds amended with sphagnum peat on the east side of the irrigation lake so we’ll be ready to plant blueberries next spring for a pick-your-own operation that will be ready in a couple of years.

Don’t forget to try sweet peet as a soil amendment as it improves the tilth of the ground and accelerates the activity of beneficial microbes in the soil to give you the results in gardening you expect.

Seriously thinking ahead in your garden planning will make your tasks easier and gardening for you will be much more enjoyable.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" October 2, 2009

With the cool, crisp October days and the brilliant leaf colors, many of you have told me that fall is your favorite time of the year. I prefer springtime with its growing day lengths and everything coming to life. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe in spring especially to Keukenhof to see the bulb gardens. Unfortunately I cannot get away as it is our busiest time of the year at the nursery.

There is still a lot of weekly chores to do as we are transplanting azaleas that we rooted from cuttings last summer. Another chore is planting more flower bulbs in Wolf Creek Gardens and out by the road. Fall is a good time to landscape your home as a flurry of accelerated root growth occurs when the top growth of plants shuts down so that the plants will be well established.

October is a great month for planting spring bulbs as the soil is warm enough in order for the bulbs to develop roots before winter. If you arrange a planting of bulbs correctly, the cascading bloom will occur from mid March through early June.

Next month we will be putting up wind breaks for our rhododendron garden. The Rhododendrons did very well this year and seem to have budded very heavy for a spectacular spring bloom.

Already I cannot wait for spring as Wolf Creek Garden will finally be open for your viewing and will be a mass of spring flowers from early April through at least June.

Well, I’ve got to do work in the garden.


Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog October 2009

A while back I had mentioned a nursery in Madison, Ohio called Roemer Nursery that has water trouble related to an extraordinary rise in salt levels in one of their main irrigation ponds.

Anyone that knows anything about the nursery business realizes that not just water but good quality water is the most important component of growing nursery stock especially container-grown stock like Roemer.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has made it public that Roemer Nursery is suing Wal-Mart for five million dollars as Gied Stroombeek, the owner, believes that the salt troubles with his pond are due to Wal-Mart’s salt applications to its parking lot collecting in a drainage basin with the resultant salty water filtering its way to Roemer’s pond causing the high salt level.

Mr. Stroombeek founded his nursery on Green Road which is about ¾ of a mile north of US Route 20 in 1959.

In conversation a few years ago, Mr. Stroombeek told me that the water table filling his wells and ponds does not come from Lake Erie but from inland aquifers coming from the North Ridge or Route 20.

Lisa Ungers, who has an option to buy the nursery, has said that they have tried to work with Wal-Mart for two years to correct the problem but Wal-Mart has refused based on the fact that Roemer Nursery must prove that the store (Wal-Mart) is the cause.

At Dayton Nursery we have a similar situation as the always-flowing Van Hyning Run that cuts through the nursery property is unfit for irrigation due to high salts and very high colifom bacteria counts.

Van Hyning Run has a short course of only a few miles as its source is Loyal Oak Lake Park and its end at Wolf Creek which in turn empties into the Tuscarawas River in Barberton.

Even with this short run failing septic tanks and road sides laden with salt diminish the water quality in a kind of no-point, multi-point source of pollution.

Salt contamination of our precious water sources has not yet been addressed and it remains to be seen how the case Roemer Nursery vs. Wal-Mart as salt used as a de-icer is not currently regulated by the EPA.

Mr. Stroombeek is somewhat “up in years” and may not live to see the outcome of this case; however, he did tell me in conversation that he has retained an attorney that will take the process as far as it will go. This case could have very wide implications that go well beyond Roemer Nursery and Wal-Mart as EPA may very well regulate salt use because of the damage caused to aquifers and streams.

Stay tuned,