Friday, January 18, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - January 18, 2013

After the wild ride of spring temperatures late last week, it’s a relief to have the return of the cold weather. Well do I remember the unusually warm temperatures in the early part of the winter of 2006-2007 only to have the temperature fall quickly to below zero with 40 mph winds and no snow cover. The damage to the nursery stock in containers became apparent early that spring as tender new roots growing all winter were suddenly freeze-dried by the severe, sudden cold. Some timely “to do’s” coming up are to spray weeds with glypsophate (roundup) when the temperature rises to just above freezing. Taking action at the next thaw will alleviate massive weed problems in spring such as those caused by having hairy bittercress, sow thistle, henbit and, if your unlucky enough to have it, the “invasive” garlic mustard. Another chore to do is to overseed the lawn when the ground is frozen so that the seed will germinate in spring when April arrives. Frozen ground is the key word as walking on wet ground on the lawn or garden will compact the soil while walking on hard frozen ground with no snow in order to sow grass seed will have no compaction problems of the soil. Now is the time to plan the vegetable garden in order to ready for spring. Seriously think about trying at least one new vegetable to break up the monotony of beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. Greens such as collards, kale, swiss chard, turnip greens are great supplements to anyone’s diet as they are loaded with nutrients and lack the empty calories of sugars and starches. Most ‘greens’ flourish in cool weather so that they may be planted in early spring, late summer and early fall and extend the garden season beyond the heat loving tomatoes and peppers. Get going as winter is flying by. Tom

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - January 11, 2013

This past week of entering the so called “depth of winter” has been more like spring which at least will aid the birds and other animals to search for food. How many times I have watched the birds pick at the small fruit of the flowering crabapples and flowering pears around the nursery. While watching the bird activity, the thought came into my mind that we humans tend to slow down in winter with the cold temperatures and short days and thus require less food and less calories. On the other hand, birds and other wildlife would require more food and calories in winter then spring and summer because of their body’s heat loss from the cold temperatures. Its vitally important to think about birds and other wildlife in the planning of any landscape for winter wildlife food. Just a few of the trees and shrubs that have berries and/or seeds that are a benefit to the wildlife would be oaks, flowering crabapples, deciduous holly, flowering pears, chokeberries, tulip poplar, certain viburnums and so on. Many of the wildlife friendly trees and shrubs have ornamental qualities as well which add interest to an otherwise “dead” landscape in winter. All seasons of the landscape must be considered if one is to maximize the pleasures of nature throughout the year. As the daylight hours slowly increase, the magic time of February 15th will be here soon in which the average temperatures begin to rise to finally open into a beautiful and life giving spring. Hope spring’s eternal. Tom

Dayton "Dirt" - January 4, 2013

January 4, 2013 With the snow and cold this past week, deer food must be in short supply as trails of deer tracks are everywhere at the nursery from the north garden, between the winter storage huts and even around the old house. Last Friday I began inspecting the property for signs of feeding in which I found a few bites taken out of some of the azaleas. Over the past two years, the animals seemed to prefer feeding on one of the most winter hardy evergreen azaleas called ‘Herbert’ but this time all of the varieties had to endure a taste test. The garden was sprayed with Liquid Fence around November 20th but apparently has worn off enough with the result of deer feeding. Luckily around noon last Friday, the temperatures rose to just above freezing with a moderate wind so that I was able to apply 5 gallons of Liquid Fence solution to the foliage and stems of the rhododendron, azalea, mountain laurel and fragrant viburnums. In about another week, another application of Liquid Fence will do well to prevent more feeding for at least another month. Liquid Fence is the answer to prevent deer feeding on tulips as they shy away from the foliage that has been sprayed with the product when the foliage emerges out of the ground about 3 inches in spring. Another chore at the nursery has been the protection of some of the perennials and other plants from extreme cold. Even with temperatures of 0 degrees and a light wind, a single layer of white polyethylene plastic will maintain a temperature of 20 degrees inside a quonset type storage hut. For most plants in pots, 20 degrees inside the house is fine except for evergreen azaleas which are only hardy to 27 degrees as far as the roots are concerned. The other plants that may not fair well in extreme cold are various perennials, excluding hostas, daylilies, creeping phlox and German iris. In order to mimic the perennials and azaleas being planted in the ground instead of above ground in pots an additional layer of cover called microfoam is rolled over the plants to insulate them from the extreme cold which could be deadly to the roots. Even though extreme cold may cause problems for everyone, it may cause the death of some of the insects that had survived the mild winter last year. There is a cloud with the silver lining even when a cold winter is upon us. Tom