Friday, November 29, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - November 29, 2013

This past week turned surprisingly quickly to winter shutting down most (but not all) gardening chores. At least two necessary items to perform is to apply a wrap or tree guard to young trees with less than a 2” caliper trunk to prevent rabbits from chewing off the tender bark during the winter. A too soon application of the protective trunk is detrimental to the tree as it creates on warmer micro climate around the trunk resulting in the increased chance of the bark splitting due to it’s being un-acclimated to the ensuing cold weather. Experiments performed by Dr. Hannah Mather’s has confirmed that the above can be one cause of bark splitting on trees. Again, any tree or shrub in areas of heavy deer concentration needs protected. One method of hanging pieces of soap from the plants works for many gardeners but can be quite time consuming. Another method would be to apply the concentrate Liquid Fence as directed as soon as temperatures rise above freezing even for just a couple of hours. Rhododendron, Azalea, fragrant Viburnums, Taxus (yews) among others are susceptible to deer browsing in winter. The Taxus genus is interesting in that it is poisonous to humans and cattle but is a delightful salad to hungry deer! The nursery is in full swing now for the Christmas season with poinsettias, greens, deciduous holly, cut trees and our balled burlapped beautiful baby blue spruce. Many of the grave decorations went out before Thanksgiving but many more are in the works ready for pickup, deliveries or “walk out” sales. Now that the nursery is set up for the Christmas season, the next item on the table is to prepare for cuttings of annual flower plants and some perennials that come from Central America where the heat and longer days during winter keep the stock plants in full growth so that multiple harvests of the cuttings can be continually shipped to the northern greenhouse operation all winter. No doubt, just before Christmas we’ll be harvesting cuttings from our stock geraniums to be potted into various size containers and hanging baskets in January that will be ready to sell about May 1st. Spring will arrive sooner than you think! Tom

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - November 22, 2013

This past week has been somewhat trying with the high winds on Sunday and Monday that could have (but did not) cause havoc at the nursery because of the white plastic stretched over the frames of the overwintering huts. Even though the plastic is stretched and fastened tightly there is always the danger that a microburst could do major damage as it did in April this past spring when 70-80 mph winds whipped through for only about 30 seconds to a minute. Since the poinsettias are almost finally “cooked” in the rear greenhouse, we ferried many of them to the annual greenhouse attached to the store in order to start to grace Thanksgiving tables and later on, brighten up dreary, dark December Ohio homes getting ready for the light, sights and sounds of Christmas. Grave blanket delivery began yesterday so that customer’s wishes are met by delivering the decorations before Thanksgiving on November 28th. Many customers prefer to pick up their own decoration for their loved ones that have passed on except in the case of some of the larger ones which can weigh more than 75 lbs! Greens and live wreaths and roping are now available along with poinsettias with the addition of Ohio-grown cut pines and firs this coming Tuesday. Mulching, flower bulb planting, irrigation repairs, clean up, trimming trees and shrubs, planting and the installation of a new self working water filter continue besides the getting ready for the Christmas season. Next month, the construction of more self-watering greenhouse benches known as ebb & flow will continue in the rear production greenhouses as most plants thrive and in general are of higher quality with the ebb & flow system with more water being recycled over and over as the draining benches return water to a 1500 gallon tank under the ground. I don’t think a long winter lull is ever a reality at the nursery as even though the nursery shuts down for 2 months after New Year’s Day, there is always something to do! ~Tom

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - November 15, 2013

Fortunately before the snow of this past week the leaves on most trees have fallen so that trees are not weighed down and broken as they were earlier this year in more northern Ohio. The one tree that has mostly not lost its leaves is the stubborn ornamental Pear that is prone to damage or complete destruction by an early snow. Erecting burlap screens for wind and/or salt damage would be in order now especially for evergreen plants near busy roads as a direct hit of salt from snow plow trucks but also salt sprays from passing traffic will burn evergreen foliage and buds. Deciduous plantings are prone to salt damage too. A planting of barberry near the south end of Crystal Lake Road in Bath was nearly obliterated from salt damage about 10 years ago while the ornamental Pears in Fairlawn have many of their lower growth buds killed from the salt mist created by heavy traffic on West Market Street when the temperature is above freezing with the salt water on the road. At the nursery, the grave blankets are under construction and most styles are ready to be picked up or delivered to local cemeteries. One of the last to be constructed are the mixed greens pillows as the sundry greens will dry out if construction is too early in the season. A few Poinsettias will be ready this weekend as they are still expanding their colorful bracts above the warmth of our heating tubes on which they sit but most will not be displayed until the weekend of November 23rd as they seem to “prefer” this bottom heat while still in the development stage. More planting, edging, weeding and mulching is going on in Wolf Creek Gardens to the north as much of the work commenced now cannot be performed in spring because of the business rush. A somewhat warm December will allow the planting of thousands of flower bulbs on the property but that remains to be seen. Tom

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dayton "Dift" - November 8, 2013

As November marches on, there’s lots of chores to complete before winter. November is for: - Taking a soil test of the lawn and garden - Applying dolomitic lime if needed to the lawn and/or garden - Composting leaves - Spraying persistent perennial weeds with glyphosate (Roundup) - Applying liquid fence in late November to protect susceptible plants from deer browsing - Applying gypsum to lawn areas susceptible to road salt burn - Planting Holland bulbs, most trees and shrubs - Applying one more application of winterizing lawn fertilizer with a high ratio of potassium to nitrogen ratio to feed the still growing grass and to foster an early lawn green up in spring - Digging and storing tender rhizomes (Cannas & Dahlias) before a hard freeze to the ground At the nursery, November is a great month for sticking cuttings of rhododendron, Juniper and Arborvitae as roots on the cuttings form quickly with the heat from our boiler system. This “bottom heat” heats the rooting media to about 72º F with an air temperature of about 60-65º F and conifers will root the various cuttings in about 6 weeks. The conifer evergreens will then be transplanted in spring to containers while the rhododendron will be planted in a bed of pure Canadian sphagnum peat in the greenhouse in January and then replanted to pots in the early summer. The covering of our overwintering houses last week has been eventful in that already at least 25 hungry mice were caught just one day after setting the traps! Another project for this past week has been the spacing of the ever expanding Poinsettias as too close of spacing will force the plants to grow upward instead of the more desirable shape of outward. Poinsettias are very susceptible to white fly insects but so far the fast breeding critters have been absent to the extent not even one can be found! The only detriment to finishing November gardening chores is the weather and the short days growing even shorter. Tom

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - November 1, 2013

With many frosty nights last week, the nursery stock in containers has finally received the “signal” to shut down for a long winter’s nap so that we finished covering the overwintering huts in order to keep the wind and severe cold off the plants roots. After covering the huts, a fungicide will be applied and then afterwards, at least 100 mouse traps will be baited with a sunflower seed and set to catch mice that will attack perennials and some of the shrubs in the huts as they eat all winter long if not checked! The color on the poinsettias is starting to intensify with most varieties ready to sell about a week before Thanksgiving. Now the work begins on cutting branches for grave blankets with the cascading styles made with Scotch pine branches being the first ones ready. The spruce style blankets are constructed later as the needles on the branches tend to shed if cut too early. Cut Christmas trees from southern Ohio will arrive in less than a month, just a few days before Thanksgiving on November 28th, but until that time, there’s still plenty to work on to get ready for the Christmas season and the coming winter. No doubt the weather will be cold but the question is “How Cold?” Even though predictions are for a severe winter, severe is a relative term in that adequate snow cover will mitigate severely cold temperatures as far as many plants are concerned. The worst possible scenario is for high winds, little or no snow with temperatures of 0º Fahrenheit or lower such as happened on January 28, 2007 and January 30, 2008 when temperatures plummeted quickly and winds gusted to as much as 60 m.p.h. I remember wrapping rhododendrons with burlap that were exposed to strong winds so that they would not “burn” with cold, harsh winds and almost no snow. Some of the same rhododendron are now almost 6 ft. tall and are in no need of wind protection as a spruce hedge to the west has grown to protect the plants from the winter winds that can do so much damage. Time to go. Tom