Friday, February 28, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - February 28, 2014

Now it's official, the last day of February is bitter cold just like most of January and February. The bitter cold has spiked the demand of natural gas for heating the greenhouses especially because at least 80% of the heat is used at night. Some years ago an experiment performed by Dr. Ted Short at the OARDC in Wooster, Ohio was that of a double layer of poly with styrofoam pellets pumped in between layers of plastic at nightfall and then removed and stored in a silo in the day in order to allow light for the plants. Although, I don't know the final results of the experiment, I don't know of any such greenhouse structure in the north employing the pellet technology. High capital costs may have made the "pellet greenhouse" economically unfeasible. Wednesday, March 5th marks the first day of the opening of the nursery after being closed for the two winter months except in the case of seminars. Saturday's seminar has to do with the miniature world of fairy gardening of which I know little about so that it will be a learning experience for me as well! The last seminar is on Saturday March 8th and entails what's new for 2014. So well I remember March 8, 2008 when at least 2 feet of snow fell overnight making it miserable and quite the work load plowing and shoveling out. That day also caused trouble for the winter storage houses in that the snow had to be shoveled away from the sides to allow heavy wet snow to slide from the roofs of the structures before the weight collapsed them. Dick Goddard, the famous Cleveland meteorologist proclaimed that so much snow fell on northern Ohio, Lake Erie and southern Canada that the snow melt would result in an additional 6-12 inches of water in Lake Erie. No doubt spring may be late in the temperature department and it is causing delays in our production schedule that is beginning to ramp up. I know that many of us find snow a nuisance but I must admit I don't mind the snow as much as the biter cold without a snowy blanket as we had sometimes this winter. See you at the seminar. ~Tom

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - February 21, 2014

Carol Zeh, retired school teacher, volunteer at the Metro Parks, history buff, avid bird watcher . . . will give tomorrow’s seminar on “Birds, Bees and Everything in Between” which will provide a connection of birds and various pollinators in our landscape and the wider natural world. Carol’s expertise is the result as her love of all aspects of the natural world and her serious study thereof after she retired from teaching. No doubt the birds have had a rough time finding adequate food this winter so that Carol’s insight into proper bird feeding and other recommendations for our feathered friends will be invaluable. I find it interesting that the Audubon Society turned the killing of birds for sport into the counting of birds around the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. So ironic is that while the Audubon Society is known for its work in the protection of bird species that James Audubon actually killed numerous birds in order to study them and paint them. Tomorrow also is the birthday of the father of our country George Washington. While George is well-known as the first President of the United States and General of the Continental Army that defeated the British Crown, less is known about his farm, Mt. Vernon and his activities to insure its success. In various writings it’s clear that he yearned for the country gentleman life at Mt. Vernon but his love of country and sense of duty kept him away from Mt. Vernon until his retirement from the presidency in which he died only a few years afterward. It would have been interesting to see what developments would have resulted from some of his farming experiments but fortunately for us, he was too busy helping his country instead of pursuing his own personal interests. ~Tom

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - February 14, 2014

Last week’s seminar on Tropical Plants was quite interesting in that it included various methods to use tropicals in large combination pots including other tropicals, annuals and even perennials. The perennials that work excellent in a combo pot with or without tropical’s are Sempervivum (hens & chicks), Corydalis ‘Canary Feathers’ and Geranium ‘Rozanne’. While flowers of Sempervivums are not particularly attractive, the multi-colored foliage is beautiful when several different varieties are mixed in the same pot. The Corydalis and Geranium ‘Rozanne’ are familiar to most gardeners because of their long blooming time and lower maintenance requirements such as constant deadheading. Cynthia Drukenbrod of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (last week’s speaker) reinforced the theme of combination pots as one of a “Thriller (anchor plant) filler and spiller”. Tomorrow’s theme is that of a sensory garden in order to invoke all the senses. Homeowners and gardeners most concentrate on the visual aspect of the outdoor “living room” and tend to neglect the other senses of sound, touch and taste. Taste is an interesting aspect as a number of edibles are quite capable of carrying their own weight to add overall aesthetics to the garden. Ornamental swiss chard, blueberry shrubs, asparagus and even rhubarb are significantly ornamental when planned in the landscape. Michelle Riley of All About You Landscape Design will host tomorrow’s seminar and couple other considerations of a sensory garden with other factors such as that of maintenance. Other goings-on at the nursery include the receipt of yet more cuttings of annual flowers from Central America, more transplanting of existing recently rooted cuttings and stocking the store with hard goods for a hopeful March 1st opening date. After the zero temperatures earlier in the week maybe that is the end of the zero or sub-zero temps. We can only hope! ~Tom

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - February 7, 2014

The short reprieve from the cold last weekend gives way to cold - again! At the nursery new varieties of hydrangea are arriving from Michigan in order to be “forced” in the greenhouse for Mother’s Day. Forcing refers to forcing-into-bloom by the addition of heat. All but one of the plants bloom on old and new wood similar to Endless Summer but with unusual color patterns that I think will be a hit with anyone looking for a special gift for mom that will last for years to come. Another early potting is that of Calla lily bulbs that should be ready to bloom beginning the first week of May. Callas just love bottom heat from the heated rubber tubing in the greenhouse as the temperature of the root zone needs to be at least 68º - 70º F. This tropical bulb will multiply year after year as long as it is dug up and stored similar to a Canna or Dahlia. Another greenhouse chore consists of taking cuttings for rooting from various plants that are not patented for some of the 4" potted plants this spring. The patented plant varieties are just as easy to propagate but unfortunately the propagation of such plants is illegal and enforced by a visit from a company representative that checks for any “cheating”. This Saturday will mark our second seminar dealing with the vast array of tropical plants now used by just about all gardeners. Cynthia Drukenbrod from the Cleveland Botanical Garden will present the program on what is available and how to grow these flowering and not blooming-foliage rich tropicals. As always the seminars begin at 11 am on each Saturday morning with a two hour duration. Hope to see you there! Tom