Monday, November 30, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" November 27, 2009

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.

I remember the Thanksgiving of 1970 in which all of our family traveled to Rural Valley, Pennsylvania near Kittanning to finish cutting, bailing and loading cut Christmas trees. There was no turkey and stuffing that year as we got so behind on the work and we just had to work in the field to catch up.

Poinsettias are coloring up nicely as the bracts, which are modified leaves, are just about through expanding and donning their crisp colors of red, white, pink, marble and burgundy. Poinsettias, like Chrysanthemums, are sensitive to day length in that short days signal them to bloom.

Poinsettias will not bloom if held over from the previous year if they have interruption from a light at night.

In fact, years ago when Yoder Brothers of Barberton used to grow poinsettias along Van Buren Ave., I remember an article in the Akron Beacon Journal in which the city of Barberton shut off street lights adjacent to Yoder’s greenhouse so that the red light emanating from the lamps would not prevent the poinsettias from blooming.

Its okay to hill up your more tender teas and floribunda roses with bark mulch to at least a depth of 10-12” for winter protection of the bud union near ground level. You will not have to do this mounding with shrub roses such as the knockout series as they are on their own roots and perfectly winter hardy.

Years ago Melvin Wyant of Wyant’s Roses in Mentor, Ohio told me that no matter what you do for winter protection of tea roses, you should expect to lose at least 10% of them.
In fact, his observations led them to believe that yellow roses especially are weaker by nature.

In Wolf Creek Gardens, some of our Rhododendrons are in wind swept areas so that we have put up some burlap screening to break the force of the wind to prevent leaf burning.
You see those big leaves transpire a lot of water and the plants cannot take up water from frozen soil.

It’s not too early to shop for a cut tree as you’re able to get the best selection and we’re able to hold it for you for later pick up or delivery and setup if you’re not ready yet.

I’ve got to go!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" November 20, 2009

Even though everything has just about shut down for winter, our Azaleas, Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel “youngsters”, many of which we propagated last summer, are doing well in a cool greenhouse as they are developing quite a root system.

We give them a low concentration of a liquid feed we mix up ourselves that is a “dark weather” feed as it is high in nitrate nitrogen as opposed to the ammonium form of which is commonly used in the warm growing season. Your houseplants would do well with a fertilizer low in ammonical nitrogen too at this time of year as there is less chance of root injury.

We’re in full swing now into making grave blankets and I’ll be delivering many to local cemeteries just before Thanksgiving.

I always call my customer after I deliver their blanket or grave pillow and I remember on one occasion that I delivered one to Greenlawn cemetery in which the customer called me back to tell me that there was no blanket on the grave!

I remember specifically placing the blanket on that particular grave then when I returned to check out the problem, someone had dragged the blanket 300 feet to the east to another grave as evidenced by the snow trail.

Fortunately, the above problem is rare, at least at Christmas time.

This year I’ll miss my uncle George as we traveled together to Burton, Ohio to decorate the graves of my great grandparents Susan and George L. Dayton and then drove south about a hundred miles to Coshocoton to decorate the grave of my great uncle Hughe Dayton. Unfortunately, my Uncle George will need a blanket on his grave as he passed away in March.

Maybe you have potatoes and some other root vegetables in the ground or stored and some canned goods or frozen vegetables that came out of your garden. Just think how wonderful it will be when you can show off your own produce to your extended family and friends at Thanksgiving!

Our cut trees will be her next week and will start setting them up for sale the day after Thanksgiving.

Even though for most of us, 2009 hasn’t been that great financially. Just remember to count your blessings as they almost always outweigh the negatives.

Happy gardening,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" November 13, 2009

I guess it seems foolish to some at the nursery but I am all excited about storing our creeping phlox and German iris in a winter storage house with roll up sides for cross ventilation. You see, these two types of plants are notorious for getting a rot known as botrytis that is difficult to control when conditions are dark and humid in the storage house. I’m excited because I’m confident the plants will love it and our customers will benefit from better quality stock.

Another item that we grew are laceleaf maples in a 7 gallon container that will explode in growth in May due to their huge root system. These maples are grafted at about 30” in height so that their finished height will normally be between 4 and 6 feet and just about as wide.

They’re full and robust and we’ll be able to offer them at less cost than a comparable balled and burlapped size.

Next spring, almost all of our fruit trees will be established in a 7 gallon container with two varieties of apples that are red and delicious tasting called Liberty and Pristine. What makes these two varieties special is that they are resistant to many pests and diseases that affect other apple trees so that they would be great to plant for you organic gardeners out there.

Our pick-you-own blueberries are closer to becoming a reality in that we have prepared the ground for next spring’s planting of Patriot, Earliblue and Hardiblue varieties. Once they get going, we’ll sell them already picked in our new barn with other home-grown produce with plenty of healthy “brainberries” left to pick yourself.

I call blueberries “brainberries” sometimes as scientists have proven by experiment that blueberries help to maintain one’s cognitive abilities.

I think even better is that they just taste so good!

Just a reminder, remember to give any of your plants underneath and overhang a good deep watering, as if they go into winter on the dry side, they may not live until spring because the cold air of winter has a profound drying effect on evergreens especially.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Dayton "Dirt" November 6, 2009

The days have grown short and its time to finish your fall gardening chores before the winter snow sets in.

This weekend is the last time I would put on a winterizer fertilizer on your lawn as putting it on later might negate the beneficial effects of the nitrogen and potassium portions of the fertilizer as they are readily leached through the soil because of falling ground temperatures in which the lawn grasses cannot pick up and store these nutrients.

You still have plenty of time to plant Holland flower bulbs as they will have plenty of time to root in this fall and then produce their promise of spring which is already inside the bulb.

It is still too early to cover tea and floribunda roses with a heavy mulch for winter protection but you can trim any rose now (except climbers) to prevent wind whipping.

A trim to about 2-3 feet is all that is needed for shrub, tea or floribunda types.

We’re now in the process of collecting branches for grave blankets and have already cut scotch pine for our cascading types of blankets.

We use Colorado Spruce for other types of blankets but we don’t like to cut the branches too early as they tend to shed needles when processed inside the greenhouse.

Our Christmas trees will be coming from southern Ohio again this year but will not include any Douglas Fir or Concolor Fir due to a late frost that killed the new growth on these trees.

The dead growth is just hanging on the trees even now and doesn’t make a pretty picture although the trees should look fine next year after a flush of growth in May.

We’re just about buttoned up for winter and planting, mulching and building in Wolf Creek Gardens and our new building is going strong.

Already I’m excited about this coming spring as I know its around the corner once February has passed.