Friday, August 28, 2009

"Dayton Dirt" Green Blog September, 2009

In many of my presentations over the years I have repeatedly stressed the importance of a healthy, vibrant soil as it is the foundation necessary to grown any plant well.

On a broad scale, proper management of soils rests on the shoulders of farmers who are in essence the stewards of one of our most valuable resources.

Since the beginning of farming, turning or plowing the soil has been an accepted practice.

The working of the soil makes the sowing of seeds of a particular crop easier or cultivating the soil helps to eliminate weeds that would ordinarily out compete the crop.

While working the soil does yield good crops, the downside is that the loosened, exposed soil is subject to erosion from wind and rain.

Another problem with loosened soil is that the existing organic matter that is necessary for a healthy soil is more quickly depleted because of the increased air present.

The decomposing organic matter is also releasing carbon dioxide which scientists give credit for a warming of the climate.

Many farmers know and have experienced the formation of a plow pan in which a layer of soil becomes compressed by a plow pressing against it at a depth of six to seven inches below the surface.

This plow pan becomes so hard the roots of the crop cannot penetrate it and water cannot permeate through to the deeper subsoil creating poorly drained fields.

Today, the solution to many of the above problems is a system of farming called no-till.

No till farming is accomplished by killing off weed growth through an application of a herbicide such as Round-up followed by drilling the crop seed directly into the ground without otherwise disturbing the soil.

No-till farming results in less carbon dioxide production, less soil erosion, no creation of a hard plow pan and less work.

No-till farming saves time and money which are valuable commodities to frequently overworked and cash strapped farmers.

No-till farming has been practiced for a number of years and seems to be another farming practice that fosters more sustainability of the production of a wide variety of crops and it is a win for the farmer’s budget and environment while elevating the farmer’s status as a steward of the land.


Dayton "Dirt" August 28, 2009

By now, many of you that are Garden Club members have received a post card via snail mail about our upcoming fall sale.

The sale is open to everyone after the expiration date on the postcard but is open only to garden club members first so that our members get first choice of the plants they may like to buy during the sale.

Be sure to check our online inventory for what we have in stock and what is on sale.

Inventory changes so rapidly during the fall sale that we advise you to call ahead before traveling a long distance as the online inventory is not perpetual.

We will gladly deliver and install your plants if you wish but remember that delivery and installation charges are not discounted from our normal rates.

Also good to remember is that we’ll be happy to help you with design questions or do a quick sketch for you free of charge in order that you may take fuller advantage of our plant sale.

Our Holland flower bulbs are just about ready to arrive from the Netherlands.

Its best to browse the selection or purchase them during September in order to get the best selection and then to plant them in October through November when the ground is cooler.

You must plant these types of bulbs (tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth) in fall as the cooler temperatures cause root growth and a chemical change in the bulbs after a 13 week cold period to “tell” the bulb to “wake up”, grow and then bloom in spring.

If you get busy, you still can plant bulbs until about February 15th with good results.

Get busy and prepare your bulb planting beds now!

So long,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" August 21, 2009

Fall is a great time to plant most trees, shrubs and perennials as roots will grow until the ground temperature falls below 40 degrees F.

Fall planted plants will act as if they have been established an extra year when they break growth in spring because of the massive root growth that occurred the previous fall.

Our garden chrysanthemums are ready and starting to celebrate the coming of the cooler fall.

Whats the scoop about garden mums? The truth is they are a somewhat tender perennial and will sometimes not survive the winter.

In order to get them better through winter, do the following:

1. Carefully loosen the outer root system of the mum to encourage roots to grow into the new soil and be sure to keep the plants well watered until they establish themselves.
2. Plant the plants in a raised well-drained bed of soil as soggy soils in winter will encourage more soil heaving that will damage the plant crown.
3. If possible cover the plants lightly with evergreen boughs after the ground begins to freeze
4. Do not cut the dead stems off the plants when blooms are spent. The old dead crown will help shade and protect the live crown near the soil surface. Cut off the old foliage about April 1st.
5. Protect new emerging growth of mums from severe frosts in early spring.

While doing all the above is no guarantee that you will be successful, chances are good that your garden mums will come up in spring especially if snow cover is adequate all winter.

Another way at looking at garden mums is simply to enjoy them in a pot or in the ground and take the attitude of Que sera sera.

A great way though to get them established is to buy them in spring as young plants.

In this way the root system will be massive and deep and not as prone to the fluctuations of winter temperatures.

Happy gardening,


p.s. I’d like to remind our Garden Club members to use their Dayton Dollars as they will expire near the end of August!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dayton "Dirt' August 14, 2009

Even though many of us are wondering “where did the summer go?” there is still plenty of summer left as autumn does not officially start until the autumnal equinox in late September.

Those of us with vegetable gardens are enjoying a bountiful harvest of heat-loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, beans, melons and so on. Sometimes the harvest becomes too bountiful in that there is too much food to use as fresh vegetables.

I still remember my grandparents and parents making ketchup with excess tomatoes, freezing beans, corn, and medium hot peppers. My mother would core the peppers and then stack about a one half dozen inside one another and place them in a freezer bag before freezing.

When using the peppers for a meal to make stuffed peppers, she would thaw the stacked peppers just enough to get them apart to stuff them. Waiting too long for the peppers to thaw would result in mushy peppers caused from the freezing.

I always marveled at the taste of the peppers as it was hard to tell if they were frozen or fresh from the garden!

Sometimes my parents would boil jars and vegetables for canning in the kitchen but it made the whole house hot and humid.

Later, we used an old cast iron stove in the back yard and fed it with seasoned wood. Now I know why years ago summer kitchens were in vogue.

In about 10 days to two weeks, start checking your lawn for grub damage, especially if you did not do anything to kill them earlier. Digging by skunks, crows or a discoloration in patches of the lawn can indicate grubs. Check to see if the turf pulls up easily where upon you should see several of the root-eating critters. If you do see them spread Dylox on your lawn and water it in as it will kill the grubs within one to two weeks after application.

Dylox breaks down quickly so do not apply it until you know you have a problem. The quick breakdown of Dylox is an advantage as this trait makes it very unlikely that it would contaminate ground water like Diazinon did.

Except for the two recent hot spells, august has been moist and cool making for a good growing season.

Our garden mums are almost ready with the early blooming varieties starting to show color and I expect them to be ready for sale around August 20th.

Hope to see you soon.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Dayton "Dirt' August 7, 2009

We just go through potting up our Hostas, Daylilies, German Iris, Hibiscus and Clematis for next year.

Many of the varieties will be new for next spring as we constantly add to our selection.

This month too is the month that I scour the internet and travel to find new plants that I think will “flip-the-switch” of our customers.

Its difficult to tell as I think I know what our customers will like but once in a while, I’ll pick a real dog that doesn’t sell very well.

I get so excited sometimes about a new plant variety that I have even gone to the length of ordering it 3 years in advance to be sure it is available!

We’ll be sure to show off our new waves at our winter seminars in our new facility.

Many of you wrote in our seminar surveys that our building was too cold on cold winter days.

The new building will have much more insulation with in floor heating that will keep everyone warm even when the temperature is well below zero.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see all the new stuff for next spring!