Friday, December 31, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - January 1, 2011

As the cliché goes “All that glitters is not gold”, so too goes the “green” industry.

According to an article written by Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council that appeared in a recent publication of Ecowatch Journal, Akron’s First Energy Corporation proposed to clean up one of its dirtiest generating plants, the R.E. Burger plant by burning biomass that would also enable the company to meet its requirement under Ohio law to produce at least 12.5% of its energy with clean renewables which does include a sustainably sourced biomass in addition to solar and wind energy.

On the surface, the proposal is quite laudable until the details are revealed.

Mr. Shaner reports that in June 2009, the Ohio legislature gave First Energy a sweetheart deal that not only approved the plan but allowed First Energy to count its Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) at up to four and a half times that of solar or wind power projects.

The “extra” credits would enable First Energy to meet its mandate under Ohio law for renewable energy and possibly sell some credits to other investor-owned utilities.

Objections raised by the Ohio Environmental Council, Sierra Club and the Buckeye Forest Council at the hearings at the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) included that the biomass source for the Burger plant proposal was not sustainable because it would require 3 million tons of wood annually or the equivalent of 66,000 acres of trees.

Another objection was with the Burger amendment as passed by the legislature would squash development of solar and wind energy projects because of the extra credit provision for REC’s having to do with the Burger plant.

The PUCO approved the plan even though it was obligated under Ohio law to certify that energy sources must be reusable and sustainable.

On November 15th, the OEC appealed the Ohio Supreme Court on the grounds that the PUCO decision to approve First Energy’s Burger plant was flawed as the commission did not consider the sustainability issue of the biomass source and the fact that the exaggerated REC’s would disrupt the market for REC’s and thus interfere with interstate commerce.

Two days after the appeal, First Energy dropped the Burger proposal citing it was not economically feasible with falling energy prices.

Mr. Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council will go ahead with its appeal in order to force the PUCO to explain why it did not consider the sustainability issue of the Burger proposal.

Another concern is if there is enough “public” in the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio or is the agency merely a rubber stamp for investor owned utilities.

Dayton "Dirt" - December 31, 2010

With the end of 2010 upon us, my hope for you in the new year is that we will not have a repeat of last summer’s heat and drought.

Many plant problems I noticed started appearing in late August and September because of the lack of water.

In my opinion, the drought in the Akron area did not end until Thanksgiving Day with a nice slow rain of up to 2 inches that was followed several days later with a similar rain.

The recent snows this past month have helped to restore the water table and soil moisture.

On a more positive note, the holidays are over and you’ll have time to plan your garden for next year and assess your failures and successes of the previous season in order to move forward to a more productive garden.

Some of your gardening resolutions might be:

1. I will pull more weeds in the vegetable and flower garden this coming year before they get out of control.
2. I will grow more food for my family’s consumption and search out locally grown foods
3. I will involve and teach my children more about gardening and the natural world
4. I will review food labels on the products I purchase in the grocery store to understand the nutritional value and sugar content and the possible effects of my food purchase on my health.
5. I will learn how to freeze, dry and can more of the produce I grow at home.
6. I will beautify my property with trees, shrubs and flowers to improve my own yard and my community.
7. I will use less harmful pesticides and fertilizers loaded with phosphorus on my lawn and garden.

I could go on and on but I ‘m sure you get the idea.

By giving just a little more thought and planning the yard and garden, you and your family will be better off health wise and while enhancing your property. You may just spread the contagion beyond your own property line to your entire neighborhood!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - January 1, 2011

As the cliché goes “All that glitters is not gold”, so too goes the “green” industry.
According to an article written by Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council that appeared in a recent publication of Ecowatch Journal, Akron’s First Energy Corporation proposed to clean up one of its dirtiest generating plants, the R.E. Burger plant by burning biomass that would also enable the company to meet its requirement under Ohio law to produce at least 12.5% of its energy with clean renewables which does include a sustainably sourced biomass in addition to solar and wind energy.

On the surface, the proposal is quite laudable until the details are revealed.
Mr. Shaner reports that in June 2009, the Ohio legislature gave First Energy a sweetheart deal that not only approved the plan but allowed First Energy to count its Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) at up to four and a half times that of solar or wind power projects.

The “extra” credits would enable First Energy to meet its mandate under Ohio law for renewable energy and possibly sell some credits to other investor-owned utilities.
Objections raised by the Ohio Environmental Council, Sierra Club and the Buckeye Forest Council at the hearings at the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) included that the biomass source for the Burger plant proposal was not sustainable because it would require 3 million tons of wood annually or the equivalent of 66,000 acres of trees.

Another objection was with the Burger amendment as passed by the legislature would squash development of solar and wind energy projects because of the extra credit provision for REC’s having to do with the Burger plant.

The PUCO approved the plan even though it was obligated under Ohio law to certify that energy sources must be reusable and sustainable.

On November 15th, the OEC appealed the Ohio Supreme Court on the grounds that the PUCO decision to approve First Energy’s Burger plant was flawed as the commission did not consider the sustainability issue of the biomass source and the fact that the exaggerated REC’s would disrupt the market for REC’s and thus interfere with interstate commerce.

Two days after the appeal, First Energy dropped the Burger proposal citing it was not economically feasible with falling energy prices.

Mr. Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council will go ahead with its appeal in order to force the PUCO to explain why it did not consider the sustainability issue of the Burger proposal.

Another concern is if there is enough “public” in the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio or is the agency merely a rubber stamp for investor owned utilities.

Dayton "Dirt" - December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve is a welcome slow down from the Christmas rush and coming just after the winter solstice on December 21st. It reminds us that we’re entering the depths of the long, dark winter.

There is plenty to do in winter as it relates to gardening. Winter is the time to catch up on all your garden reading reviewing the new mail order catalogs and plan new projects in your garden.

At the nursery, we’re putting the final touches on our plans for spring which includes what we will grow in our new greenhouse facilities, what new plants we will stock and promote and the continuation of our winter seminar series in order to educate our gardening customers.

What better time to learn about the garden than winter when the garden itself is asleep!

In spring, there will be some new surprises for anyone coming into the garden center but will wait to give you a hint of what is to come late this winter.

Keep an eye out on our website for updates about the seminars and other items of interest.

Remember that we will be open next Monday-Thursday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and will close Friday, New Year’s Eve at 3:00 pm and will remain closed (except for seminars) until March 1st.

We will still be here working and ready to answer your phone questions and e-mails.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - December 17, 2010

Last week, Santa’s visit was a big hit with the children and parents alike.
The specifically built bench for Santa was big enough to hold Santa with a parent on each side and a child on Santa’s lap.

We’re low on cut trees now but still have a few beautiful 8-10 foot Fraser Fir and
several 6-7 foot Scotch Pine.

As I wrote formerly, we’ll have grave blankets and wreaths ready for pick up or delivery right up until Christmas Eve.

The remodeling of the original store is almost done as well as our new production greenhouse that will be used for a whole host of annual flowers for May sales.

Keep an eye out for my later blogs as I’ll give you hints on some of the new items that will be here next spring in perennials, annual flowers, roses, trees and shrubs.

Another way to find out about all the new stuff is to visit our seminars that begin late January and finish up in late March.

See you at the seminars!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - December 10, 2010

We’re already winding down on our fresh cut trees! Scotch pine (6-7 feet) and Fraser Fir (8-9 feet) are the only trees left of any number.

The 8-9 foot Fraser Fir are exceptionally nice since the grower just delivered more fresh cut ones last week.

Remember that Santa is here this Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 3:00 each day so that you’ll want to bring your children or grandchildren for a photo op as it’s completely free. Be sure to bring your digital camera!

Santa will be sitting on a very sturdy garden bench that Brad (AKA Mr. Fix It) just made that we’re sure will hold Santa and a child on his lap.

We’re still making and delivering grave blankets until Christmas Eve.

I almost forgot… we have tree delivery and set up available of a real cut tree that will relieve you of the hassel of mounting the tree in the stand straight.

A seven foot tree delivered and set up is only $20 with trees greater than 7 foot at a $35 charge.

Hope to see you in the Owl Barn this weekend!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - December 3, 2010

Even though the shortest day of the year is the winter solstice , December 21 or 22, it surely seems that the shortest days are now and that’s because the sun sets earlier in early December then it does on the solstice.

No wonder that Christmas is filled with lights from the lights on the tree, to the star of the wondrous Star of the East.

This year is the 500th anniversary of the first Christmas tree that was cut and erected in Riga, Latvia in the year 1510.

Thankfully for us, the Hessian soldiers defending Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey were busy celebrating Christmas and not expecting the sly fox George Washington to attack them and take these two towns!

Don’t forget that if you’ve been thinking about a real Christmas tree, that we can deliver and even set it up in your stand for a very reasonable fee. All you need to do is decorate the tree to your liking!

Please purchase a stand such as Cinco brand that is the right size for the tree as it’s not a good idea to shove the tree trunk down the middle of a small stand as the tree will no longer take up water to remain fresh.

Remember, Santa is coming next weekend between 12:00 and 3:00 Saturday and Sunday (December 11th & 12th) and will be available for photographs.

Be sure to bring your children, grand children and even great grand children as Santa is very convincing even though he is actually a Nortonite named Tim Crawford who is well known in Norton and throughout Summit County.

Remember too that all the excitement with Santa is free!

Hope for snow,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - December 1, 2010

In a recent Akron Beacon Journal article, Bob Downing reported of a proliferation of toxic algae blooms on Lake Erie and in various Ohio inland lakes and ponds.
In Ohio are seven native species of algae that produce toxins.

One such toxin is called microcystin which is a known nerve toxin. At high enough levels the toxin can sicken or even kill humans and animals as such was the case this year in Ohio with 29 people sickened and three dogs killed.

There is a moderate risk to those who use waterways for recreational purposes when levels of microcystin are at levels of between 10 and 20 parts per billon.

The biggest problem is with bodies of water used for swimming and those used for municipal water supplies.

Only once, very low levels of the toxin were found in Akron’s city water supply as the water department’s carbon filters remove any of the algae toxins.

The algae problem could not exist without phosphorus from animal manures, farm runoff and lawn fertilizers according to Dr. David Boher of Heidelberg University’s National Center for Water Quality Research.

Recently, many lawn fertilizer manufacturers have greatly reduced or totally removed phosphorus from their new product formulation.

I suspect that as more and more problems become associated with water runoff loaded with fertilizer that the industry believes that EPA regulation is very near.

Another possible scenario too is the escalating cost of phosphorus that has seen prices triple or more since last spring!

At least from lawn fertilizers, the resultant phosphorus runoff problems will largely be cleaned up from a much more limited use of the element just as when phosphates were removed from detergents years ago.

Riparian buffers along creeks and streams will help to reduce polluted runoff from lawns and farms as these buffers act like a filtration system.

As of now, I know of no EPA regulation (state or federal) that limits phosphorus use; however, the lawn fertilizer industry appears to be regulating itself very rapidly.

Water polluted with toxic algae caused by phosphorus runoff is a problem we cannot afford and one which can and will be corrected either from market forces due to the now high cost of phosphorus or government mandates to reduce phosphorus runoff.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - November 26, 2010

It’s finally time to pick out a real Christmas tree for an old-fashioned Christmas.
No, a real tree is not as convenient and easy as a pre-lit artificial tree but then that’s the fun of it.

The “fun” is the search for the perfect tree with just the right shape, needle length, color, height and width.

Getting outside in the fresh air and maybe snow with the entire family and you might just have to make a “day of it” instead of family members going his or her own separate way.

Our trees are all Ohio-grown and as I’ve written in earlier blogs, ours are very fresh!

The Owl Barn is filled with trees, gift items, poinsettias and such that give the inside of the building a Christmas glow.

You’ll have to come by to see the 11 foot Fraser Fir decorated against the north wall.

Its lit up with more than 800 LED lights that cut power usage by as much as 80% compared to the old incandescent types.

I like the LED Christmas lights as they are cool to the touch and don’t tend to dry out the tree.

For nearly 30 years, we’ve been making and displaying quite an array of grave decorations that are ready for pick up or delivery.

Live and artificial wreaths, door swags, roping and greens are displayed inside and outside the Owl Barn.

Come on down to take a look at our beautiful trees and displays and visit the new Owl Barn Market.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - November 12, 2010

Without a doubt, the holidays are coming fast!

Our cut Christmas trees will be ready for sale by November 24th so that if you want the “pick of the litter” that would be the day to come over toe pick out your tree and have it held until you’re ready for it.

Our trees are from a small family operation in southern Ohio and are extremely fresh and of high quality.

I pick out about a dozen trees per year for customers that let me know the type and shape of tree they want.

Generally I do well except with rare exceptions on satisfying the customer.

The grave blanket business will be in full swing this week as we just cut our branches.

I will be delivering many of the grave decorations just before Thanksgiving although deliveries or pick ups go on until Christmas Eve.

In addition to the live greens and wreaths, we’ll also have many artificial wreaths, trees and grave decorations made up.

On the nursery front, even now is a good time to plant your favorite tree or shrub and we’ve got plenty in stock.

The large Maples we received just last week are gorgeous!

Hope to see you at our holiday open house November 26-28.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - November 5, 2010

Today the rain and/or snow is a welcome sight as the ground is still on the dry side!
Soil moisture is especially important for broadleaved evergreens as they tend to transpire water more than other evergreens so that adequate soil moisture is important while they are in the dormant stage.

We just received a large shipment of different varieties of Maples in a 2 1/2 “ and 3” caliper size and in the range of 12 to 16 feet!

This size of tree tends to be a size that you could call “instant” shade.
We have finished up covering our own overwintering houses with white plastic film and now are anticipating a run of mice in the houses that will eat bulbs, perennial roots and even bark off trees and shrubs.

Our way of dealing with mice is a good old-fashioned mouse trap baited with a single sunflower seed.

Its not unusual to kill 30-40 in the fall and winter season!

Well, its back to unloading trees and setting them up.

Arriving next week is a load of beautiful Cleveland Select Pears as they could not be dug until all the leaves had fallen.

I just don’t like wrestling around the 500 pound plus root balls!

Back to work,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - November 2010

The debate about energy consumption, cost, carbon taxes, “clean” coal, wind and solar energy is sure to rage on for years to come.

One note of good fortune for most of us that heat our homes and businesses with natural gas is that the supply seems to be great and the cost relatively low as compared to just two years ago.

At the nursery, lower natural gas costs are a blessing as we typically use about 1400 MCF of this fuel to mostly heat our greenhouses for the production of annual flowers to be ready for sale in May.

Before the last surge in natural gas prices, heating the greenhouses was typically about 20% of the total production costs.

Even though gas costs seem to be declining, our goal is to increase production of annual flowers with less gas or at least using no more than our current consumption.

Three ways that we will achieve our goal of less natural gas use is from the 93% greenhouse heaters we installed last spring, heat curtains that close over the greenhouse crop at night blocking heat transmission through the roof, and by growing “cold crops” in a separate greenhouse where the minimum temperature for a quality plant is as much as 20 degrees than many other plants.

Some experts believe that at the current rate of consumption, the United States has a 62 year supply of natural gas with never drilling techniques.

You would think no one would question the lower natural gas cost but think again.

Debate is raging over the practice called fracking in which water and chemicals are injected at high pressure deep into shade rock foundations in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia & Ohio.

The concern is that such techniques to extract the gigantic locked up reserves could damage ground water supplies.

If wide spread contamination of ground water does occur due to drilling, the jubilation of new found suppliers of gas at a lower cost will be short-lived.

How our water supplies will fare during this drilling boom only time will tell.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - October 29, 2010

At the nursery, we’re just about wrapped up for winter and already getting ready for Christmas.

Next week two truckloads of gorgeous Maples, Cleveland flowering Pears and a few Red Oaks will be coming in that can be planted yet this fall or spring; however, fall is the best time as the root system will have a growth spurt in order to get the trees established before the next hopefully not-too-hot summer.

This year, our new structure we call the Owl Barn will be open that will give a better Christmas ambiance for the season instead of our main store that is filled with the smell of fertilizers.

The Owl Barn will be complete with decorated trees, gifts and more as well as our standard fare of Ohio grown cut Christmas trees, wreaths and greens.

Grave blankets will be in our perennial house on display where they used to be more than five years ago so that all of our “Christmas stuff” is altogether.

The Owl Barn is currently closed in order to get it ready for the holiday season but will open in mid-November.

Hope to see you soon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - October 22, 2010

With several medium frosts behind us, the plant life is really beginning to "shut down" for winter.

Much of the nursery stock that we bought for next spring as well as the stock we grew this summer has now been "put to bed" in the winter storage houses where even though there is no heat, the full force of the winter cold and winter winds will not kill the root systems of the plants since they are above ground.

Keep in mind that although most of our stock will be put away after the weekend, we will still have the material available should you wish to do some landscaping even through November.

Some nice Maples, flowering and other trees will be arriving in early November as they will dig safely when their leaves have fallen and will be ready to plant in your yard until the ground freezes solid!

Our new production greenhouse for annual flowers for spring is proceeding on schedule so that we'll be able to offer better quality at prices less than last year on 4.5" potted plants, hanging baskets and many combination pots.

Let's hope for some significant rain yet as still the ground is dry deep down.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - October 15, 2010

Fall’s colors are ramping up for their peak display and it looks like this weekend will be a spectacular show.

The Autumn Blaze Maple that has been planted at the nursery for several years has been blazing red for over a week now.

I still favor Autumn Blaze Maple as it is more tolerant of drought conditions than its relative, Red Sunset. Also, the more rapid growth of Autumn Blaze will result in quicker shade from the hot summer sun.

In early November, we’ll have a spectacular display of large balled and burlapped trees on display and at a good price too. (See our pre-dug fall sale on balled & burlapped trees)

Remember that fall is for planting so that if you are thinking about planting a tree or shrub the cool, moist weather of fall will initiate a flurry of root growth to get the plant’s established to grow well come spring.

The Owl Barn Market is open with its display of apples, cider, gourds, pumpkins and squash along with fresh baked Amish pies and other goodies. Later on, the Owl Barn will be our Christmas shop with decorated trees, wreaths, ornaments and so on.
We’ll be advertising the arrival of Santa Claus (Tim Crawford) in mid-December that will create a photo-taking opportunity for the children with Santa Claus.

Enough about December. Chrysanthemums are still blazing along in all their glory and we still have a good selection starting at $4.99.

Enjoy the great weather.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - October 2010

Today, with all the travel and trade in today’s modern world population of living organisms that were once isolated in specific ranges or more narrow geographic areas are traveling around the world with the aid of man.

Some harmful examples are the proliferation of diseases, animals and insects that have decimated the native populations of our own county.

Some of these invaders are well known such as the Gypsy Moth, Dutch Elm Disease, Viburnum Leaf Beetle, the Asian fungus that destroyed the native birds and bird eggs in Hawaii.

The more recent, quite noticeable problem of today is the Emerald Ash Borer, a native to China, that is wreaking havoc on our native Ash population.

A drive through NW Ohio and Michigan is all that is needed to see the evidence of the deadly bug.

We ourselves are responsible for some of the invasive species problems we have today.

For example, the Kudzu Vine from Asia was a good idea for a ground cover for erosion control until it got to of hand choking just about everything in its path in the South.

A less obvious invasive plant is the winged euonymus, or Burning Bush, which has been planted and sold for residence and commercial properties for the last few decades.

Many eastern states have been placing the Burning Bush on an invasive species list as it seems where it is grown in the nursery fields, it is difficult if not impossible to eradicate after it has been dug.

I have noticed in the nursery growing belt east of Cleveland, Ohio that Burning Bush seems to be disappearing from the fields as some states have restrictions on this plant from out-of-state sources.

My belief is that the winged euonymus is destined for invasive species status sooner or later (probably sooner) in the State of Ohio and that growers of this plant see the writing on the wall.

There are many choices for fall color that are native plants such as Aronia (Chokeberry), Viburnum plicatum (Doublefile Viburnum) and Vaccinium (blueberries)

Many of the above natives (and more) have been overlooked and underused due to the imprint of the Burning Bush name and image on the general public’s mind.

Unfortunately, Burning Bush is still imprinted our customers minds as frequently they are not interested in native plant alternatives for fall color.

In my opinion, the above situation will change as most nursery growers are already growing less of the winged Euonymus which is lessening the supply and driving up the price of the plant.

The final death knell for the winged Euonymus in this state will be when it is branded as an invasive species and out of state shipments to Ohio are no more.

The native plants for fall color are looking better all of the time.

Dayton "Dirt" - October 8, 2010

The weather has certainly been cooperating on breaking the drought of late summer with cool rainy days replenishing the ground moisture. So many of you told me about the toil just to get a shovel into the hard ground before these welcome rains.
No doubt many of you have delayed lawn repairs in September because of the lack of moisture so that if you still want to go ahead, I’ll give you the green light.
Just remember, when seeding that bluegrass seed germinates only after three weeks or more which may result in the seed germinating in spring which will work fine if you don’t apply the regular crabgrass preventer and feed.

Applying a product containing the active ingredient called Siduran will allow the remainder of the ungerminated seed to spout in April.

Fall color is getting underway especially on the maples.

If you’re looking for a tree replacement, a good fast grower in the maple family with brilliant red fall color is the Autumn Blaze Maple.

While we don’t have any in stock right now, digging of the trees will begin in late October when they are dormant.

Watch for the notice on our website for 2 ½” and 3” caliper trees (12-14 foot tall) that will yield some significant shade in just a few years.

I think you’ll love the price too as these gorgeous trees will be significantly discounted too.

Now, we can enjoy the sunshine after the rains.

Happy growing,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - October 1, 2010

If your lawn still needs renovating from the damage of the long hot summer, be sure to take action quickly as time is running out.

If you're overseeding, thatching helps in order that the seed will nest in soil instead of falling on thatch in which case it will never grow.

A fall fertilizer such as Greenview's 10-16-20 also is an excellent fertilizer as it has a high amount of phosphorus for root growth of the new seedlings.

A fall fertilizing of all your trees and shrubs is an excellent way to promote healthy growth next spring as the plant's roots will be active until temperatures drop to below 40 degrees F and will be able to absorb the nutrients you provide and store them for spring growth.

The cool fall is an excellent time to landscape as agagin, root growth will get the plants well established for healthy growth next spring.

At the Owl Barn, cider, apples, pumpkins add to the autumn ambiance of the nursery.

Hope to see you soon!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - September 24, 2010

Our fall festival seemed to be quite a success especially with the children.

The hayrides, animal show, balloon man, bouncy house and making crafts at the Pat Catan's craft table seemed to overwhelm them.

My favorite "activity" was the roasted sweet corn made in a special corn roaster on wheels!

Tomorrow and Sunday is Barberton's annual Mum Fest with over 20,000 plants donated by Aris Horticulture (formerly Yoder Brothers)

The mums combined have at least one million blooms and are planted along the northeast corner of Lake Anna Park in downtown Barberton.

Mums are a main attraction but many other events and activities make it a worthwhile drive.

At the nursery, our mum patch is finally in bloom as it was delayed by the hot weather in August and the first half of September.

Our fall sale is still going on at 50% off many trees, shrubs and perennials so be sure to stop by as more than likely there is something you'll see at a very good buy.

Lets hope for sunny skies for the Mum Fest and then we could use a lot more rain but without tornadoes such as the one that touched down in Wooster at the Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center in Wooster.

The widespread damage to this world renowned research center and arboretum is a tragic event and must be repaired although it will take years to heal the Secrest Arboretum.

See you at the fest!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - September 10, 2010

Remember our fall 50% off sale is still on and open to the general public so that you may want to check the inventory online or call if you missed anything you wanted that we still may have.

Remember too that a week from Saturday will be our Fall Festival on the 18th of September which will be full of events for children and "grown children".
I will be giving the hayrides as always because I enjoy the mix of people - young,
old and middle ages.

I wonder what it is about a hayride. I remember bailing and hauling hay to the barn at our farm in Burbank, Ohio that was nothing but hard work.

Maybe its just the adventure of riding on the wagon without the hard work.
In addition to the hayrides, there will be fair food, roasted corn, face painting, balloon sculpting, live music, Outback Ray animal shows, bouncy house, Pat Catans craft tent and new for 2010… a garden specimen contest. The contest will cover 3 categories: best fruit specimen, best veggie specimen and best floral specimen.
Entries are limited to one per person, per group and can be dropped off on Friday, September 17th or up until 10:00 AM on Saturday, September 18th. A single fruit, veggie or floral stem from your own garden is what will be judged.

First prize will be awarded with a ribbon, certificate and a $10.00 gift card. Second and third prizes will be awarded with a ribbon and certificate. Judging will take place at 2:00 pm. You do not have to be present for judging.

Hope to see you there!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - September 3, 2010

This is the first day of our fall sale and I think almost all of our Garden Club members will be impressed with the selection of plants included in our 50% off sale.
Be sure to take a look in the Owl Barn Market while you're here at the nursery to look at the fresh produce and browse the aisles for some of the gift items and cooking accessories.

As time goes on more locally grown apples will be displayed as well as ample cider, pumpkins, squash and other related food items.

The coolness of fall signals a resuming of our planting in Wolf Creek Gardens just down the hill from the Owl Barn along with a "push" to get the various trees, shrubs and perennials labeled.

It was a spectacular display in May with the blooming Creeping Phlox, Azaleas, Rhododendron, Dogwoods, Redbuds and shade perennials blooming in the garden although many of you did not see it.

The sad fact about some of the native trees in the garden is that they are Ash trees which will soon be killed by the Emerald Ash Borer which is an invasive insect that will bore holes in the trees and kill them.

This insect came out of Detroit, Michigan from pallets of sewer pipe imported from (yes, you guessed it) China.

One bright spot is that we will replant with disease resistant American Elm and Tulip Poplars which are very fast growing and stately.

Hope to see you at the sale this weekend!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - September 2010

In August I wrote no blog as I was on vacation out west visiting the National parks.
These vast expanses of land were only preserved by the wisdom of men such as Grover Cleveland, George Grinnell and Theodore Roosevelt among others to save these wondrous "cathedrals" of the United States for use and enjoyment for "generations yet unborn" as Teddy put it so well.

It disturbed me greatly on my tours of the Rocky Mountain areas of the millions of acres of trees that are dying or dead leaving the mountain sites brown or barren where once there had been a verdant green forest of pine, spruce and fir.

On a tour of Glacier National Park, I asked the park ranger about the dying trees as I observed larvae of an insect getting ready to pupate on a spruce tree in which the tree's new growth was mostly chewed off.

She replied that the insect was called the spruce bud worm and attacked the native spruce and fir.

The other problem insect she said were pine bark beetles that bore into pines and destroy them.

Both insects, while native, have been around for a millennium on the trees but have only recently gotten out of control decimating the forest.

The ranger went on to say that the winters are warmer than normal and former droughts weakened the trees making them more susceptible to insect attack.

Fire will for sure decimate the insect population along with the trees.

The new school of thought is that the insect explosion might be caused by humans because of fire fighting efforts of the last 100 years that suppressed the natural fire cycle in the forest which, while destructive, seems to be a cleansing, effect with the end result of a rejuvenated forest.

I think the forest ranger is correct as Yellowstone Park seemed to be the least affected by the ravaging insects because of the massive fires through the park that burned in 1988.
Now the new trees are 8-15 feet tall and standing like soldiers in millions.

The insects do not attack young vigorous trees and I'm sure that millions, if not billions, of these nasty critters burned in the fires along with the trees.

For sure fire will sweep through the dead, dying and healthy trees of the parks that will result in the land having a barren, sterile appearance.

However, in time, new life will come again to blanket the valleys and mountains with lush green forests.

The only downside is our generation will be gone before that rejuvenation results in massive tall trees.

Sometimes interfering with Mother Nature such as fire suppression is not a good idea.


Dayton "Dirt" - August 27, 2010

A week from today starts our annual fall sale for which many trees, shrubs and perennials will be 50% off the list price.

It has been a little slower this summer probably due to the high temperatures so that the fall sale selection will be better than ever.

Do remember though that not everything will be on sale as some items we buy and display for fall but are actually for next spring's sales.

Look on the website to get an idea of current inventory and the 50% off sale list about September 1st to take a look to see if there is something that you would like at the 50% off savings.

The first four days of the sale will only be open to our Garden Club members in order that they get first dibs on the stock.

After the four days, the sale will be open to everyone although if you are not currently one of our Garden Club members, you may sign up the same day and receive the 50% off discount.

Keep in mind that the inventory online is not perpetual and sometimes changes rapidly even in one day so be sure to call or e-mail ahead if there is some special item you want that is showing low numbers in our inventory.

Hope to see you next weekend!


Dayton "Dirt" - August 22, 2010

This week the construction starts on our new greenhouse that will enable us to grow more annual flowers to stock our retail greenhouse next spring.

I became very frustrated as some plants were in short supply and the quality on many declined as everyone tries to cut corners in the new economy. We sent product back to our suppliers that was only marginally saleable. I was so fed up in May that I decided to do something about it and take more direct control of our supply by building the new greenhouse with heat retention curtains which will enable us to start growing in mid January without transferring large amounts of cash to the gas company!

The greenhouse will be more automated and should elevate the level of quality of what we grow now as well as elevate the quantity so we are not at the mercy of outside suppliers.

We're still tweaking the produce for sale in the Owl Barn Market to ensure high quality and freshness as well as providing more variety as it comes out of local farms. I'm looking forward to the apple crop that isn't far away so that we can stock up on a kaleidoscope of various apples.

See you soon,

Dayton "Dirt" - August 15, 2010

The middle of August is most likely the time when your pulling a lot from your garden as far as the heat-loving vegetable group; that is tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, beans, cucumbers and squash.

One of the questions we have had periodically is if the our produce is organic. My answer is no as we deal with a variety of farms including Amish growers and all of them are not strictly organic.

At least one of our produce suppliers does have a GAP rating (Good Agricultural Practices) that is certified by the State Department of Agriculture.

These good practices include:

- control of soil erosion
- Minimal pesticide use
- Control of runoff water
- Low water usage from drip irrigation

These points are just some of the major ones that a farmer must satisfy through rigorous inspection in order to be granted the GAP certification.

We will have some produce in the future that will be certified organic but I must say that I don't think we will be totally organic.

With our fall festival coming up on September 18th, I'm excited in that we'll be able to showcase the new Owl Barn and all the bounty of surrounding farms.

While Wolf Creek Gardens is still coming around, we will make even bigger strides in late September and October in tweaking the plantings as we have a small lull in the amount of projects that have to be done at the nursery.

One of the fall projects in Wolf Creek Gardens will be an addition to the blueberry patch that I think will be open for limited picking next summer.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - August 6, 2010

Shortly we'll begin construction on our new greenhouse to supply us with small potted flowers and some earlier hanging baskets.

I was not pleased with some of the greenhouse product we received from some of our vendors that have supplied us for 25 years or more.

The product was sometimes substandard quality or non-existent - another result of the "new" economy.

The new greenhouse will not supply all of our needs but will greatly supplement what we are able to grow now.

Since the growing year has been running ahead, please keep an eye on the grubs waiting to destroy your lawn as the egg hatch from European Chafer and Japanese Beetle is about to begin.

By the first of September, any grub infestation should be noticeable as the grass will begin turning off color in patches and the soil will actually lift up when the infestation is severe.

If you detect more than 3 grubs per square foot, apply a product such as Dylox but do not apply "Grub-Ex" with the active ingredient imadocloprid or Merit as it is too late.

Dylox is relatively safe and will do the job quickly once it has been watered in.

Our fall festival is getting closer so make sure you mark your calendars for the entertainment and hayrides to come!

See ya soon,

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - July 30, 2010

With August fast approaching, many of you should have produce coming out your ears!

It has been a rough growing season though as some gardens have been attacked by tomato blight and powdery mildew because of the extreme heat coupled with exceptionally high humidity.

For the things you don't grow, I hope you'll come on over to the Owl Barn Market as we have plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits in stock from local farms.

I must admit that I am a little behind as we normally have all of our cuttings of shrubs taken by now but a major "time-eater" occurred when our main 25 horsepower pump failed so that we had to rely on the much smaller 10 hp electric pump.

Unfortunately, the new economy means less stocking of everything so that it took about 3 1/2 weeks to get the replacement pump in order to water the nursery stock properly with the heat.

Weeds, as always, are a pain but more so this year as I let some of them go too long because I frankly did not want to have anyone, including myself, pulling weeds in 90 degree plus weather coupled with high humidity.

Remember to use your Dayton Dollars by the end of August before they expire as stock for many trees and shrubs, perennials and hard goods are quite adequate for you to select an item you want.

Well, back to finishing the cuttings,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - July 27, 2010

The grand opening of the Owl Barn Market went over very well last weekend as many of you have wanted to take a look inside of the barn.

Seiberling's sweet corn has been a big hit as we are able to have fresh stock everyday.

Early tomatoes have been difficult though as prices at some of the Amish auctions have run quite high.

Just this morning I Gagged in disbelief when 4 ten pound boxes of tomatoes sold for $25 each!

For the best southern Ohio tomatoes, prices started out at $15 per peck which is about 10 pounds and sometimes moved up to $17-18.00.

You would think tomatoes to be in the league of steak as far as prices go.

We were fortunate though to find another source of quality tomatoes from Ohio at a much better price.

Since our emphasis is on local, we want to be careful to only have some "imports" that are "must haves" to round out our line of fresh produce.

The other news I received was that the nursery that grows the patented Bloomerang Lilac is delivering sometime this week!

I'll believe that when I see them here!

If you haven't been able to come to the market yet, take a look at some of the online photos on the market section from our website.

Happy gardening,

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - July 9, 2010

The long awaited opening of the Owl Barn Market is finally here.

I hope you’ll be able to come to our open house tomorrow to take a look at all the locally grown produce from neighboring farms as our emphasis is and will be to buy local in order to ensure freshness and quality of fresh foods and to help your neighbors – local farmers.

The Owl Barn will have related food goods such as jams and jellies, some baked goods and an assortment of cooking utensils and paraphernalia.

Lisa Merrick will be displaying some of her art work including her well known works of framed pressed flowers from her own garden.

The Owl Barn is a return to the produce market days of the late 1960’s through the mid 1970’s when I sold produce from my garden at my parents’ home in Norton.
A lot has changed since then about the products available and the display of those products.

Again, locally grown fresh produce is the emphasis of the Owl Barn Market and I think it will fill a void as its location of just ¼ mile north of I-76 on Cleveland-Massillon Rd. will be a convenient location for Norton, Barberton, Wadsworth, Copley and Fairlawn residents.

The other void the market will fill will be the freshness of the product. I was appalled by the sweet corn that was being soil in the local grocery store a couple of weeks ago.

The sweet corn of course was not local because of the early season; however, the dried up mess that the store offered as sweet corn I would have been ashamed to sell!
Just make sure you e-mail the nursery or make it known to one of the clerks if there is something we offer not to your liking in case we goof.

Remember, if we don’t have all the produce you are looking for, it may not be available yet as again our emphasis will be on locally grown produce.

Hope to see you soon.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - July 2010

On July 17th, Dayton Nurseries in Norton will be opening the Owl Barn Market which will offer fresh produce, Amish jams, Ohio foods, baked goods and related items.

The markets emphasis will be on locally grown produce from surrounding farms in order to ensure the freshness and quality of the products and in order to buy from local farmers instead of relying on suppliers from hundreds or sometimes thousands of miles away as the grocery stores do.

In addition to having a farmer’s market, the Owl Barn’s association with the nursery will result in an expanded offering of Dayton Nursery’s potted small fruits including blueberries, raspberries, currants, rhubarb and asparagus, as well as potted herbs, most of which are grown right at the nursery.

Coupled with the Owl Barn Market is the botanical-display garden Wolf Creek Gardens which is located just north and down the hill on which the Owl Barn sits. The garden includes a dwarf conifer bed and shade gardens including a shade perennial and Rhododendron-Azalea garden and hopefully next year a pick-your-own blueberry patch that will be located along the garden’s north border.

Although the market will not specialize in organically grown foods, the relative safety and freshness of the local farm’s products will be the staple fare.

The Owl Barn Market is another way to accomplish and to advance the vision of Dayton Nurseries as an enterprise of environmentally sustainable practices among which are low energy and pesticide use, water recycling and runoff water containment on the nursery property and now locally grown healthy produce.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - July 2, 2010

Picnics, swimming, fishing, get togethers, fireworks and more conjure up visions of the 4th of July.

That same week in 1776 in Philadelphia, it was hot and muggy with all the delegates of the Continental Congress not on the same page.

I can just imaging some of the heated arguments that the gruff John Adams had with his fellow delegates.

Truly with the genius of men like Franklin, Madison, Adams and Jefferson, its no wonder that the eighteenth century is known as the “Age of Enlightenment”.
Don’t forget this is the last week that you can plant heat loving successive crops such as sweet corn, cucumbers and squash.

The garden spiders will be out soon in full force if they aren’t already and don’t you dare kill any of them as they’re doing you a great favor by catching and eating insects harmful to the garden.

I remember reading a magazine in which a naturalist was searching for a bat cave in Tennessee.

The visitor questioned a farmer about the bats to which the farmer replied that those darned things were in such and such location.

When the naturalist found the cave, he noticed shells of insects on the floor by the thousands which were potato beetles.

When the Tennessee potato farmer found out about the onslaught these beetles suffered from the bats, these bats then became HIS bats!

Enjoy your weekend and the 4th.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - June 25, 2010

I’m getting excited about my annual “shopping” trip to Holland, Michigan to visit Walters Gardens that has 900 acres or more under the cultivation of perennials.
It’s always a thrill to take a look at all the facilities and growing fields to see what’s going on and especially what’s new.

I remember my dad and I taking our first tour of the nursery in 1982 when Dennis Walters gave us the tour.

Mr. Walters was so very friendly and kept asking us after an hour of the tour if we had any more questions or wanted to see more.

He did show us 20 acres of daylilies that were all sold to the marketing company Wayside Gardens while inside this processing building, workers were assembling bags with two oriental poppy roots in each bag for a total of one million poppies!
Walters has a fantastic website too with color photos and descriptions of most of their inventory.

After my tour and a little study, I’ll be able to dream about all the new stuff for 2011 like the new Itoh peonies that have colors of yellow, orange, pinks, reds and purples like the tree peonies only they die down like garden peonies and can be grown in full sun!

I already ordered these plants last January to sell in 2011!

Keep an eye on my blogs for the new developments…


Friday, June 11, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - June 11, 2010

Today would have been my mom & dad’s 61st wedding anniversary but unfortunately, my dad passed away 6 years ago.

I remember this day (in 1972) also because Hurricane Agnes was in the North Atlantic and was absorbed by a low pressure cell over Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania which flooded the region and gave us such cold rainy weather that about a thousand pepper plants I planted were stunted and never did grow.

In fact, on June 15th, in Hartville, it actually frosted and did damage to the truck farms in the area.

Remember on Saturday, June 12th at noon, we’ll have the Rose Lady and Mimi Zak to touch on some rose highlights and answer your questions. I think you’ll like the rose samples displayed from Mimi’s magnificent rose garden.

Its back to work for me as all this rain has made the garden grow but the weeds too!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - June 4, 2010

While Memorial Day signals the commencement of summer, there are still 3 weeks left until the summer solstice.

With the long warm days, our gardens seem to grow wildly as compared with the slow start from the somewhat cold early May.

As I have said before, Memorial Day need not be the end of the vegetable garden planting as successive crops can be planted to keep the harvest going later in the summer and into fall.

An interesting book to read is American Intensive Gardening by the Poisson family as it describes the family’s trials and errors to create the most productive garden in the cooler New England climate of New Hampshire.

Be sure to keep an eye on trees and shrubs you planted early in spring.
Two simple rules are as follows:

1. Container grown plants – water twice weekly by soaking thoroughly. A good rule of thumb is that for every “gallon” of the container in which the plant was grown, give it at least that amount in gallons in any one watering.
2. Balled and burlapped trees and shrubs – soak thoroughly once weekly unless the plant is a Rhododendron or Azalea on of the family I which case the watering frequency is twice each week.

Remember that rainfall counts as watering only if you are sure that the rainy period resulted in one inch of rain or more in a 24 hour period.

Most importantly do bypass a softener when watering your plants if you have a well because most softeners use a sodium exchange type system which is not good for plants.

Although I don’t like hot weather, I still remember shoveling snow in February and I can tell you I don’t miss the snow shovel as this past winter was just a little tiring with the seemingly endless snow storms.

Happy Growing,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - June, 2010

With the news filled every day about the ruptured well spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, the thoughts that run through many of our minds is what is the true cost of oil.

In a laissez-faire economy, resources are allocated and used according to the economic principles of supply and demand which seems to be a very efficient system that Adam Smith described as an “invisible hand” in his book The Wealth of Nations.

It seems to me that the resulting cost of the oil to run our economy is skewed because of the subsidies provided by the US taxpayer and costs that cannot even be calculated.

For example, the US Six Fleet in the Persian Gulf is mainly there to secure the oil interests of the United States.

The cost of this naval flotilla is not cheap and there is the more important matter of the servicemen and women lost in the first Persian Gulf War under the first President Bush and other lives lost due to our presence in the region to protect oil interests

Another cost not calculated is the long term damage to wildlife and wildlife habitats such as in the Exon-Valdez spill some years ago in Prince William Sound in Alaska and now the even bigger disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Then, the economic damage from the livelihoods lost of those of us in the tourism and fishing industry is not calculated.

Finally, how much of the clean up costs for these disasters will be on the backs of the U.S. taxpayer?

In a recent broadcast on National Public Radio, the company that actually drilled the well in the Gulf will attempt to legally limit its liability to twenty seven million dollars.

What kind of people are the board and top executives that they are not willing to take responsibility for the disaster and step up to the plate to do the right thing?

In summary, the “invisible hand” described by Adam Smith does not allocate these calculable and incalculable cost to the price of oil and its extraction.

If the costs could be truly allocated by the “invisible hand” as described by Adam Smith, it might be that the costs of alternative energy sources might well compete with “cheap” oil.

This recent disaster has made it all even more imperative that the United States must get rid of oil as the main source of energy to power our economy and the sooner the better!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - May 28, 2010

This weekend, Memorial Weekend, is the traditional weekend to decorate the graves of our departed loved ones although for years the date was May 30th and known as Decoration Day. Another tradition is that it’s the weekend to plant the garden and then it’s done. I find this tradition a little strange as planting has gone on or should have gone on in the garden at least since mid-April. The other side of the coin is that planting can go on long after this weekend with succession crops of sweet corn, beans, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, beets, squash . . . I think you get the picture.

The succession crops can be planted up until about July 4th in most cases although turnips, parsnips, carrots and kale can be planted in mid to late August so that they can be harvested in late fall and even stored in the ground as long as they have their crowns covered with straw to prevent damage from a hard freeze.

By planting succession crops you’ll have more fresh produce to supplement your diet as well as your family and be less dependant on food frequently shipped from sources far away with a taste that might as well be like chewing on cardboard in many instances.

Stop in and see what we have as we are still stocked fairly well although I’m sure there may be some items out of stock until the next year.

Next month is perennial gardening month so be sure to take a look at our perennial house when you stop by. Hopefully all or at least some of you (garden club members) have received our late spring-summer newsletter, if not, you should be getting it shortly.

Get Gardening!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - May 21, 2010

This week for some is a good planting week for your vegetable garden and annual flowers but still the watch word is just that "watch" as frost still could occur. With the soil much warmer, seeds and plants should do just fine unless we get an extended cold, wet period.

In 1972, Hurricane Agnes came up the east coast and was absorbed by a low pressure cell centered over Pennsylvania. Wiles-Barre and Scranton, Pennsylvania flooded severely and even here in Akron, Ohio it was very cold, wet and rainey June 11th through June 15th. I remember well the weather as I had 600 medium hot pepper plants on a somewhat sandy ground which seemed to drain well. Nevertheless the plants were stunted and never did grow well after things warmed back up to normal!

Our hanging baskets should be in their prime now as we time them to look their best between Mother’s Day and last until Memorial Day. It seems the 12" hanging baskets do well with the large soil volume to keep the roots cool and of course allow room for roots to grow. Our larger hanging baskets still have a charge of Osmocote slow release fertilizer to carry them into summer; however, it’s a good idea to supplement this slow release feed once weekly with a liquid fertilizer like Miracle Gro or 20-20-20.

Back to vegetable plants. Remember to not only depend on heirloom varieties of plants as most are not disease resistant like the hybrids are. Also, check into growing plants in an earthbox as this system of growing vegetables is very productive and does not take up a lot of room.

Happy Planting!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - May 14, 2010

It’s about time to start putting out more tender plants but most of you know that the weather is unpredictable and you still have to be careful. From experience you may have noticed over the years what kind of micro climate you have. In the city or an allotment, it will generally act like a zone 6 climatic zone which enables you in most years to plant now. I know in my own case that the nursery seems much colder than the surrounding area and is truly a climatic zone 5. My mother only lives two miles from the nursery and a frost after mid May in most years is rare. When I see a prediction for an overnight low of 40º F or lower, I know that in almost every case it will frost at the nursery if the sky is clear and the air is still.

Be sure to come in to take a look at all our new varieties of heirloom vegetable plants, strawberry plants, raspberry plants, horseradish, fruit trees, elderberries and blueberry plants.

We’re in a high mode of production now with our blueberry plants so we think you’ll be able to find about anything you want.

Say hello if you see me as I may not readily acknowledge you because of my limited sleep!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - May 7, 2010

May 9th is Mother’s Day and is nearing its 100th year anniversary since it officially began with President Wilson’s blessing in 1917. Almost all moms love flowers and I’m sure you’ll find something she’s sure to like.

When you come in the front gate, you won’t be able to not notice the 2300 red tulips that I planted last November called Ile de France. These are a triumph tulip which is a group that blooms after the late April Darwin types. The brilliant red I thought would contrast nicely with the white post and rail fence. Even Claude Monet was inspired by the tulip fields in Holland as he painted them with one of the classic Dutch windmills in the background.

This week in May is our very peak of inventory and spring bloom so that I’m sure the nursery will be to your liking. Remember, the old fashioned lilac is on sale this week as an unadvertised special along with the Miss Kim lilac. An advertised special for Azalea ‘Mandarin Lights’ I told you about in my last blog is now available as its getting ready to burst forth with its flowers that will cover the plant in shades of brilliant orange before the leaves fully come out.

Be sure to take a peak at the creeping phlox bed below and to the north of the Owl Barn. Creeping Phlox is a perfect choice for sloping (but also level) beds in full sun or part shade. Then between the boulders, sedums have been coming to life that will eventually fill the cracks and crevices of the extensive boulder wall.

Come take a look!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - April 30, 2010

Its time to plant your favorite tree whether for shade or ornamental value and we’ve got just the trees to get you started from a small Weeping Pea Tree for your patio or a towering giant like the Eastern White Pine in which the tallest one ever recorded was 227 feet in the state of Maine!

Planting a tree now is perfect while the soil and weather is still cool and moist so that the root system can become well established before the warm weather arrives.

Our flowering trees consist of Flowering Plums, “non-messy” Flowering Crabapples, Golden Chain Tree, Japanese Lilac Tree, Flowering Cherry and White Fringe Trees among many others.

Trees give height and a majestic quality to what would be an otherwise boring landscape.

Could you imagine a street or your yard without trees or flowers? Well, try this. The People’s Republic of China during Chairman Mao’s tenure in 1966 actually banned the people from having flowers as they considered them bourgeois!

With Earth Day just passed on April 22nd, how fitting to plant your favorite tree that will grow and develop year after year long after your new car is in the junk pile!

Plant a tree so that one day as your grandchildren picnic under the shade of its branches that they could say “our grandparents planted this tree for us.” It’s a tree that remembers our grandparents names!

Happy Planting,
Tom Dayton

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - April 23, 2010

April 24th at noon, you’ll be getting an earful on growing ericaceous plants (acid loving) in particular, rhododendron and azaleas. I’ve been fascinated with these plants for over forty years because of their bright flower colors, interesting and varied foliage patterns and just their sheer beauty and majesty. I remember visiting David Leach of Madison, Ohio in May of 1976 so that I could see some of his breeding programs first hand and first and foremost to pick his brain.

I’ve learned a lot since then and will share as much of my knowledge as I can with all of you at the seminar tomorrow. Remember when I told you in my April 9th blog that shade from a tree as compared to that of a building acts differently on turf grass? Well, it works differently too on plants and I’ll be discussing that as well.
At the nursery we have a wide swath of varieties all suited for Northeast Ohio as long as they get a few things they must have.

Soon the nursery will be ablaze with the plants in our sales area and in our natural woodland setting in our Wolf Creek Gardens. I like the deciduous azaleas too as colors of bright yellows and oranges that are not available in evergreen types, are plentiful in the deciduous types. In fact, watch for our ads in the Trading Post, Westside Leader and the Akron Beacon Journal later on as there will be a good sale on the brilliant orange deciduous azalea aptly named, Mandarin Lights.

See you tomorrow,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - April 16, 2010

Clematis is called the Queen of all flowering vines and for good reason. The colors and patterns of these colors are so wide and varied due to the constant on-going breeding programs from several breeders all around the world..
Recently, the new Evison cultivars have been introduced with beautiful new bicolor and enlarged stamens of the flower that add even more beauty to this marvelous species.

On Saturday, Deborah Hardwick, a customer and Clematis lover, will be telling us all about Clematis as far as the selection and care so that you can learn to get the most enjoyment out of these vines. Two of the new varieties we will be offering this year are Rosemoor with its wine red flowers that appear on old and new wood and Avant-Garde with its reddish petals and large pink contrasting stamens.

In her presentation you’ll learn to take complete advantage of these beautiful vines to add yet another dimension to your garden. See you at the seminar.

P.S. On Saturday, April 24th at 12 noon, I will be hosting a seminar on the selection, cultivars and care on my long time favorite plants - Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Hope to see you there.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - April 9, 2010

Tomorrow, on Saturday, April 10th, Sam Wagner, who for years, worked for the Greenview lawn fertilizer people will talk during a free seminar on the do’s and dont’s of lawn care.

Sam will share his years of experience with us as he has actually done what he is going to tell you on his own farm in Medina.

To those of you who do your own lawn care or want to do your own lawn care, you’ll be able to pick up a lot of tips from Sam that will eventually enable you to achieve that lush lawn with minimal work and expense.

One question that almost everyone asks is, “How do I grow grass in shade?”
What I have learned from experiments conducted at Ohio State University is that tall fescue blends of grass perform best under trees.

The experiments revealed what I always suspected but did not know why that shade from a structure is different from that of a tree because a tree will absorb the red light which “starves” the grass of red light and only leaves it with more far red light. More specifically, red light and far red light refer to the wave lengths of these two types of light.

Conversely, a building does not absorb red light so that the red light to far red light ratio is much higher which results in grass growing just fine in the shade of a building as compared to under a tree when the amount of shade in both cases is 90%.
We’ll talk about grass in shade and about a lot of other good stuff at the seminar.
Please, we ask that you let us know if you are coming as we are limited in seating and need to have enough refreshments on hand.

The lawn seminar begins on Saturday, April 10th at noon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - April, 2010

What’s GREEN for 2010 at the nursery??

A lot of “green” is going on at the nursery this year due to the high volume of construction last year.

Construction of our new building which we call the “Owl Barn” just finished up about January 1, 2010.

The barn, while it has the appearance of an old-fashioned style of 150 years ago, has been constructed with modern materials including energy star rated windows, insulation of an R-60 value in the roof and nearly R-30 in the walls. A green roof on the south porch in which sedums grow, will keep the porch very cool in summer and absorb much of the rainfall so that there is no quick run off of water not to mention that it is colorful and aesthetically pleasing.

In the larger area of the roof that does not have a green roof because of its steepness, the entire runoff from rainfall will be captured to help supply our lake for irrigation of our plants. In addition, all the excess irrigation water is recycled and returned to the lake for reuse again.

The purpose for our new gambrel roof barn is to house our produce market in order to market our upcoming blueberry crop and local produce from surrounding farms and orchards.

This past December, Norma, who is Chuck Seiberling’s niece said to me “You are going to market some of our produce aren’t you?”

I replied “You don’t understand – I want to market Seiberling produce!”

The Seiberling name not only is attached to the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company because of its founder F.A. Seiberling but also is well known in Norton because of the Seiberling Farms west of town where Chuck and his parents before him have been growing sweet corn and other produce for at least 60 years.

Other “green” projects that have been developing for a period of years is that of our botanical display gardens called Wolf Creek Gardens in which 2009 was a turning point due to the various plantings and improvements to the roadways for its easier viewing.

The extensive grassy area of the garden has been sowed with a tall fescue type of lawn seed mix. This mix is excellent for erosion control because of its deep root system that can grow to two feet or more. The depth of this root system makes it ideal for home lawns too as tall fescue is a very light feeder. Tall fescue only requires one-third to one-half of the fertilizer of bluegrass lawns and stays green much longer than traditional bluegrass lawns in dry summers.

From water recycling, water runoff capture, the use of mostly insect growth regulators in our greenhouse, blueberry culture, to selling of local fruits and vegetables, and the display of natural beauty in our garden, we’re trying to pull all the different pieces together to make Dayton’s the “green capital” of Norton.


Dayton "Dirt" - April 2, 2010

It’s so good to see April!

On Saturday, April 3, Tom Parry of Hudson, a Proven Winners brand expert, will talk to us about Proven Winners plants. You see, Tom is a salesman for a brokerage company that we and many other growers use as our supplier of Proven Winners plants. Tom visits many greenhouses, especially in Michigan and gets to look at all the production practices and the exciting new introductions.

I’m jealous as I only get to see a fraction of what he views so that he can tell his customers about it.

The other subject that he will be addressing is “Water Wise Easy Irrigation” in order that you have less of a struggle to keep your plants healthy and nice during those hot days of summer.

Later on, we’ll have many new Proven Winners introductions such as the Pretty Much Picasso Petunia and the new vigorous white Alyssum called Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’. Enough for now….you’ll just have to wait and see…


Friday, March 26, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - March 26, 2010

On Saturday, March 27th at noon, I will be giving another educational seminar on Mountain Laurels.

These delightful plants will extend the blooming season of your landscape as they typically bloom May 15th through June 15th with a kaleidoscope of color from their many and varied flower colors of white, shades of pink, and shades of red in various combinations.

Mountain Laurels, until established, can be frustrating to grow so I’ll share all my knowledge with you so you too can be successful.

Mountain Laurels are the perfect companion plant for Rhododendrons and Azaleas and can fill in the missing details to your shade landscape or foundation planting.
On another note, we’ve already received a lot of our stock and have been pulling a lot out of our winter storage houses.

However, we won’t be set up fully on the outside until about mid-April as the weather can still turn nasty.

More specifically, by nasty I don’t mean snow, but bitter cold.

You see, there is new root growth now on the plants in pots and a temperature below 20 degrees F with moderate wind would kill much of that new root growth and set the plant back.

I have a good memory and the cold blast that I fear in April happened April 5-8 in 1982 and again on April 8-10 just recently in 2007.

I’m sure everyone remembers the 2007 blast as that happened Easter weekend and the temperature on that Saturday was a high of about 35 degrees with 35 mile per hour winds, after a low that morning of only 19 degrees!

Let’s hope we don’t have to experience that for a while!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - March 19, 2010

This Saturday, March 20th at 12:00 noon, I will brief you on the wherefores of green roofs.

Green roofs are in big time use in Europe, especially Germany, as they are even mandated by local laws such as in the city of Stuttgart.

There are many benefits to employing a green roof during the construction of a structure as not only are they aesthetically pleasing, they absorb runoff water, cool the building in summer and greatly extend the life of the roof membrane.
On our new barn, we installed our green roof in October of 2009 which created a buzz in Norton about what was on the roof!

Onlookers even pulled up into the driveway in front of the structure to take a look with some turning around in the newly seeded yard so they wouldn’t have to back out on the street!

During the seminar, we’ll take a good look at the roof and I’ll explain its construction details (as long as it’s not pouring down rain!)

Spring is here!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - March 12, 2010

Remember Saturday March 13th that Joan Gangle will share her knowledge with us on the culture of growing roses. Joan is from Copley and is well known for her garden and by being a member of the Cuyahoga County Master Gardeners.

I almost forgot to mention that the nursery is open Monday through Saturday 8:30 am to 6:00 pm and closed on Sunday.

There is really not much to look at on the grounds but that will change very soon as stock begins arriving and we start pulling plants from our winter storage houses.
We’re still feverishly potting up annual flowers and perennials to get ready when the greenhouses open at the end of April.

On Tuesday, March 16th at 6:30 pm, we’ll learn about organic fertilizers and soils from the Espoma fertilizer company. We’ve carried the Espoma line for quite a few years now and most of our customers seem to enjoy using it as it is low in salts and easy on soil microbes. You’ll be able to get a window into the differences of supplying the nutrients plants need through the organic way vs. the chemical fertilizer method. Bring your note pads as this seminar is bound to have loads of interesting technical information.

Just think, it’s almost spring!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - March, 2010

There has been an upheaval change at the US EPA since President Obama appointed Lisa Jackson as the head of this agency of 18,000 federal employees. She seems to be reversing many of the policies of the former Bush administration that the EPA should go softer on businesses and industry. Ms. Jackson’s stance is just the opposite as the "P" in EPA (protection) seemed to be on the back burner.

Ms. Jackson it seems is a ball of energy and has set the tone of the agency to regulate pollutants as they relate to climate change, the nation’s rivers and streams and the air we breathe.

In addition, Ms. Jackson’s focus is on chemical safety especially as it relates to children and on the subject of environmental justice. More specifically, the poor and minorities are sometimes harmed more by lax enforcement of the law than affluent citizens which one could surmise that the poor and minorities are low on concerns of many politicians because of their lack of comparative wealth to the more well connected layers of society.

Ms. Jackson seems to be keeping an eye on state environmental regulatory agencies as well as she payed a surprise visit to the Texas EPA which she considered to lagging in the federal standards as they apply to the oil refining businesses.
It will be interesting to watch Ms. Jackson as she has only been on the job a year but one thing has changed: EPA has teeth again.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - February 26, 2010

We’re wrapping up the end of February with a seminar tomorrow by Michelle Riley of Eberhardt Landscaping. Michelle is a graduate of Kent State University with a triple associate degree in landscape design, turf grass and arboriculture. (seminar has been cancelled as of 2-26-10)

She’ll speak on the relationships of trees as they relate to our past presidents and on the importance of trees to our environment as to one similar to a program called "Why Trees Matter" put on by the Ohio Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio.
I remember in grade school in Norton about being taught about the Civilian Conservation Core camps set up during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration for the purpose of putting young unemployed men back to work by planting millions (eventually 2 billion) of trees to combat soil erosion by wind and water because of the mowed down forests and plowed up prairies. In fact, lines of trees were planted as windbreaks after the outbreak of the Dust Bowl in the 1930's that blew tons of precious topsoil away.

In Norton, many willows were cut down by property owners along a small creek which resulted in enormous soil erosion of the property owner’s yards. Yes, trees do indeed matter.

Michelle is quite knowledgeable and I’m sure the program will be most worthwhile.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - February 19, 2010

We made it over the hump of winter! Temperatures will (on average) be on the rise giving us a preview soon of a glorious spring.

Megan Vance will be our guest speaker in the Owl Barn on Saturday at 12 noon. Megan has her own business called Suzanne Jardin Garden Design so that with all her background in design and planting, Megan is an expert in shade gardening especially with perennials. Megan was our guest last year when she spoke on container gardening and new perennials for 2009. I do well remember that she is very entertaining.
During the seminar I will press Megan closely to classify the different types of shade that plants require or have to deal with as all shade is not created equal.

I want to personally thank Bill Bauman of Bauman’s Orchards in Rittman for all his expertise on fruit trees. Bill’s family has been in the orchard business for about 60 years in which the results of their labor and knowledge have turned Bauman’s orchards into a favorite destination for many of us in the Summit, Medina and Wayne counties during the harvest season.

I’ve got my questions listed for Megan tomorrow and you be sure to have all yours ready so you can fire away as soon as she gives the signal for a question and answer period.

See you tomorrow,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - February 12, 2010

I think everyone enjoyed the herb seminar last week and now it’s time to move on to small fruit. It seems that so many of our seminars center around eating and food but so what?

Planting and growing fresh vegetables and fruits is a large part of why we garden and the other at least as important part of gardening is pleasure. I always knew a fair amount about small fruits but did I ever get an education when I started studying the updates.

So many varieties of strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, etc. are available, it just boggles the mind. For me it’s like studying in school again on what’s going so that I can pass on everything to all of you.
About the same time last year I spoke to you about blueberries and I will touch on this subject again although this seminar will be an expanded one covering more of the small fruit realm.

Almost everyone has enough space for these small fruits in their yard and another fact about them that makes them so great is that they are perennial members of the garden that continue to grow and develop to provide a harvest year after year after year.

Hope you can come tomorrow!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - February 5, 2010

It didn’t take long for January to fly by and already I can tell the days are getting longer. I figure that by the time we get by Washington’s birthday, the rough weather (at least sub zero temperatures) is over.

Saturday, February 6th at 12 noon is the start of our next seminar of the use of herbs in our lives for fragrance, fitness and flavor. If you’re satisfied with bland tasting food or the fast food garbage that’s out there, you won’t be interested in this seminar. However, herbs seem to be the catalyst resulting in good food becoming great food!

The fitness part comes into maintaining and enhancing our health through the use of antioxidants, vitamins and such. I’m sure the seminar won’t tout the medicinal aspects of herbs as that in something only a physician could advise you to use them correctly as some if used incorrectly can be harmful.

The fragrance of herbs is well known from that of lavender, the subject of last weeks seminar, to Sweet Woodruff, Rosemary, Thyme and so on.

Don’t forget next week that I will be giving a seminar on the planting and growing of small fruits with a side about fruit trees such as there selection, pollination and such.

See you tomorrow at the seminar.


P.S. Remember the seminars are held in the new "Owl Barn".

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - February 2010

Recently in October, the Ohio Research & Development Center featured a program titled “Why Trees Matter”.

The sundry benefits of community trees as presented in the program include:

- Key to environmental health
- Energy savings for homeowners
- A healthy community
- Healthier lives
- Wildlife habitat
- Trees provide food
- Protect watersheds
- Increased property values
- Promote a more successful local and regional economy

Without going into lengthy detail, no one can argue that trees are important to our local communities and to our planet as a whole.

In many towns and cities, we have become complacent about the Urban Forest as to the care if needs and the planting of trees replacements.

Many years ago, Denver, Colorado had planted a magnificent urban forest only to have it drastically decline from years of neglect.

Now the city has made great strides in the past few years to replace its emerald cloak.

Even here in Ohio when the great American Elms were devastated by the Dutch Elm Disease, the scramble was on to find “the” American Elm that would not succumb to the disease.

Without a doubt trees especially are a must for urban environments and should not be perceived as a luxury commodity.

The program presented at the OARDC rightly tries to quantify the benefits of trees in a monetary way as this aspect can be measured.

The other properties such as beauty, feelings of well being, and simply living in a healthier environment are all more difficult to quantify and measure but these are just as important, if not more, as the benefits than can be more accurately measured.

I like the quote from L. Merrier as it seems to sum everything up well on a statement about trees:

To plant a tree is
An act of faith in the earth
An act of hope for the future
An act of humanity towards
Coming generations who will
Enjoy its fruits after we
Shall be gone

My own opinion is that the OARDC (Secrest Arboretum) programs about trees and other aspects of our natural world will educate the public so that we and the next generation have enough sense to protect and preserve out natural heritage.


Dayton "Dirt" - January 29, 2010

Tomorrow is the first in our series of winter seminars beginning with the multiple uses of lavenders and how to grow them.

This herb (perennial) is not only versatile when harvested but is well known in the perennial garden for its flowers and fragrance.

I can remember the lavender growing on the hillside of Provence, France when I stayed in a small town above Nice called Vence. The only disappointment was that my timing was off as none were noticeable as they were not in bloom.

Tomorrow, January 30th, is the first day of use of our new barn that we call the "Owl Barn". This structure is a perfect place to hold seminars in that it is heavily insulated and boasts an in floor heating system powered by a small boiler. We have already had this system cranked up to check it out and I must say that all those attending should be nice and warm no matter the weather outside.

I hope you can come. The seminar begins at 12 noon and will include a short break for refreshments. See you there.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - January 22, 2010

Now we’re entering the coldest part of the winter and I pray that at least 3-4” of snow or more will blanket the ground through February which will definitely help tender perennials overwinter well.

The first in our series of winter seminars takes place on the 30th of this month with Judy Byrne of Daybreak Lavender Farm.

Lavender is such a fascinating plant with its beautiful foliage and aromatic leaves. We grow about 8 varieties including Munstead, Hidcote, Fred Boutin, Lady, Vicenza, Provence, Blue Cushion and Coconut Ice.

Judy will be speaking on the best cultivation practices for lavender and its many uses. She will be my guest on our radio program “Ready, Set, Grow” on 1590AM WAKR on Saturday, January 23rd at 8:00 am.

I’ve been answering gardening questions on the radio program for almost 14 years now and I have learned a lot myself from our callers as to how they solve various garden problems.

This coming week we’ll receive our shipment of primrose called Super Nova. These primrose are a great improvement over the old Pacific types in that they are just as hardy but the flowers are so much larger and colorful. I hope to offer them in early spring as a potted plant to be enjoyed indoors and then planted in the garden in some shade when the weather warms. Primrose like cool temperatures (45-55 degrees) so that for us, they will be ideal to grow in the greenhouse as we can keep the heating costs down.

I’ll look forward to seeing you at the seminars!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - January 15, 2010

Even though we’re moved into the Owl Barn, we still have a lot of work to do before you’re invited. We’re constructing counters, shelving, coating & sealing the floor, hanging tapestries, hanging colorful photographs…

On a trip last summer to Holland, Michigan, some extraordinary large framed photographs caught my eye. I saw them in the window and just had to have them. One is a huge photo of a daffodil called ‘Ice Follies’ with amazing detail. The second framed photograph is one of the famed tulips of Holland, Michigan followed by the glowing orange of an Oriental poppy with the black inner parts of the flower
contrasting with the robust orange.

The barn will be an ideal space to market the blueberries that we’ll be planting next spring next to the lake area at the rear of the nursery. While we’re not planning to market solely organic foods, the main focus for our summer market will be on locally grown and locally preserved foods from farms around this area.

The word local is broad by I have defined it to mean that our sources for almost all products will come from a one hundred mile radius from the nursery.

Other products available will be fresh cut flowers as well as potted flowers from our own greenhouses and growing operations.

Before the farm market opens, the Owl Barn will serve as a display and gathering space for educational seminars and flower shows. As time goes on, we hope to make gradual changes to our business to achieve a higher level of service, more varied but related products and a more pleasant atmosphere for our customers to shop.

Back to work for me,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - January 8, 2010

Don’t forget that birds get hungry too and must constantly eat to keep up their 104 degree Farenheit body temperature. In lengthy studies, it does not seem to harm birds to feed them as the myth about making them too dependent on humans that can “giveth” and then later “taketh” away the food source.

Periodically please wash your bird feeders and use a bleach solution to kill any bacteria that would be detrimental to the birds’ health.

We are closed for the winter but Copley Feed is an excellent source for all your bird feeding needs.

Don’t forget too that I told you last year about staking up your cut Christmas tree near the birds feeders to give them shelter and cover from predatory birds and animals.

Check the trunks of your young trees that are less than two inches in diameter for rabbit damage. It would be a good idea to place tree guards on young trunks.

Also, if you sprayed your plants susceptible to deer damage in November, I would recommend a re-spray of Liquid Fence with the advent of a January thaw. Re-spraying with Wilt-Pruf or Freeze-Pruf would be a good idea too on those broadleaf evergreens that can be susceptible to wind burn when cold day winds accompanied by frozen soil take hold in winter.

I must lecture you also about that perils of throwing salt-laden snow from your sidewalk onto your landscape plants – don’t do it! Urea will work as a safer ice-melter and you can pick it up at Copley Feed.

See you soon,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - January, 2010

One aspect of gardening that I have been talking about on our radio show “Ready, Set, Grow” on WAKR 1590 AM is the importance of at least supplementing a family’s diet with home-grown fruits and vegetables or at least “locally grown” produce.

The importance of such a maneuver away from entirely “store-bought” food is the fact that much of the food chain is becoming contaminated from foreign sources that do not have the same standards of production and handling of foodstuffs as compared to the U.S. as related to safety and health issues.

No one can argue that fresh produce or fruit out of season must come from some foreign sources; however, non-domestic frozen food and canned foodstuffs are plentiful on grocery store shelves.

As an example, I sometimes purchase “steam-in-the-bag” vegetables for quick preparation and convenience but I accidentally discovered that on the bag was China, Mexico, USA as sources of the contents. When I called the company to inquire if some or all of the contents were from the above sources, the company spokesperson said that in fact the contents contained components from all of these countries and that the company has “full” control of the production process.

I no longer buy this brand of vegetables as I have reasoned that:

1. There is no need import vegetables that are frozen.
2. Imported foods, at least as I perceive it, are more risky to consume because of foreign substandard production and handling methods compared to those in the United States.

A specific example of my concern in item #2 is that the dangerous pesticide Parathion is legal to use on food crops in Mexico but not in the United States. Another of my concerns is the Chinese factor of tainted milk, candies and problems with non-food products such as lead-based paint on children’s toys.

In my seminar two years ago, “American Intensive Gardening”, I presented an efficient way of producing an array of home-grown produce that could be easily frozen or canned to supplement a family’s diet to eliminate or at least greatly reduce the consumption of foreign foods.

I very much resent the food processing companies that procure foreign sources of product when they don’t have to do it. In my view they are more concerned about their short term profits than providing quality domestic sources of canned or frozen foods.

It is wise to read the label on what you’re consuming to discover the listed nutritional content or the country from which it is sourced. Its even wiser to grow and/or purchase locally as many fruits and vegetables as possible although I’m sure there are many in our country that are content to blindly trust that the big food processors would place your family’s health and safety as their first priority.

My very conservative close friend Tom who lives in Toledo, Ohio sarcastically played down my concerns about the safety of imported foods.

I replied that he thought the imported foods were completely safe and healthy then he was free to eat them and prepare them for this family to eat!

I do know that food processors would not intentionally market unhealthy or dangerous products as it would not be in their own best interest. However, with the wider the sources of product, there is more loss of control of production and handling processes.

Frankly, I don’t trust the global food processors to put health and safety of its customers over their own profits, do you?


Monday, January 4, 2010

Dayton "Dirt" - January 1, 2010

Well the bad news first. We’re still not in the depth of winter as the coldest part of winter is after mid-January through early February.

The good news is that we’re more than one week past the winter solstice and the day length is increasing by a few minutes each day.

There’s not much growing now except some young Azalea, blueberries and Rhododendron that we took as cuttings last summer.

Many of you have poinsettias that will last into spring as their flower bracts do not abscure easily like the ones sold in the 1960’s and earlier.

January is the month to study all those garden supply catalogues for all the exciting new cultivars of trees, shrubs, flowers and seeds. Winter is the time to dream away to imagine the possibilities of gardens to come with visions of riotous color from foliage and flowers to a bounty of harvest from your own small fruits, fruit trees and vegetable plants.

Now is the time to start planning your spring garden to get the most from your hard work and not only from what you’ll actually plant but what steps you’ll take to achieve maximum success such as soil testing, soil preparation, spacing of plantings, staggering multiple plantings, etc.

One thing I keep repeating is the importance of planting your own vegetable garden as a supplement to your food sources for a healthy diet. I pulled a bag of vegetables from the refrigerator that are to be steamed in the bag. The taste was mediocre so that when I checked for the expiration date (the bag was well within the date of expiration) I noticed that all the contents of the bag did not come from the United States but also China and Mexico. I called the well known company to inquire about the use of foreign sources of supply for their product to which they supplied the answer that they have full control of quality.

My thought process is that they want to maximize their own profits even if it means there is a greater chance of something slipping by that has been sprayed with dangerous pesticides or is inferior in quality with these foreign sources. I do not buy the brand of frozen vegetables now but only another brand which I read “produce of USA” on the label exclusively.

I just wish I had my own canning or frozen vegetables from my own garden like I preach to you to grow and preserve. Maybe this year I can truly tell you to do as I do and not tell you to do and I do not!
Oh well.

Happy New Year,

Dayton "Dirt" - December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!

The story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens with his life-like characters of Ebernezer Scrooge, Bog Crotchet and Tiny Tim changed Christmas forever as Christmas Day was just another work day in Victorian England.

There are other books such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe that have changed the course of history but a Christmas Carol did it for the Christmas holiday.

In the not too distant future, you or your children should be able to roast American chestnuts on an open fire as the American Chestnut, or at least 15/16 of it, is starting to be planted on strips near areas and will soon populate the Eastern forests as the great trees once did.

My Slovak grandmother used to say “You be got health, you be god wealth”, to which her then teenage grandchildren thought nothing of it. Now, being older, I do know that if one’s health is not good, there’s not a whole lot that matters except for maybe food on the table, a warm place to stay, and family and friends.

We’ll be open Saturday December 26th 9:00-5:00 but closed on Sunday the 27th. Then we’ll be open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm through New Year’s Eve after which we’ll close for the winter except for out winter seminars on Saturday.

Someone will be here though to answer all your questions on the phone or by e-mail. We’ll look forward to seeing you at the seminars in our new Owl Barn.

Joyeuox Noel,