Friday, May 30, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - May 30, 2014

Wow! The official last frost free day for northern Ohio! While northern Ohio “shivers” sometimes in May, the Ohio city named for the French Queen Marie Antoinette, Marietta is like a different world as the spring weather is 2 or even 3 weeks ahead of our northern climate only about 150 miles to the north. The rhododendrons in the botanical garden to the north fared well even after the nasty winter as they are coming into their peek bloom with shades of purple, red, white and pink. Especially impressive is a small rhododendron I planted last fall called Pohola’s Daughter that was bred in Finland that did have some foliage burn but now is coming out with strong growth! The nursery for the past week to 10 days has been a bit messy with scattered plants and even weeds as it has been quite difficult to keep up with the sudden rush of the late spring and still accomplish all the other chores such as potting plants, trimming, etc. This week though has seen a big push to bring out many plants now ready for sale along with roundup to kill the weeds in the gravel beds and a general clean up. This summer will bring some major construction for a new greenhouse in order to produce more flowers and a whole slew of vegetable plants for next spring. The idea is to produce 4" potted vegetable plants for sale with a drop in price and to offer more varieties that our suppliers will not grow. The new greenhouse of course will be fitted with the self watering tables and a boiler system for heating in order to keep the plant’s roots warm which they seem to love. The above greenhouse systems go along with our view of saving water and energy in the “Waste not, Want not” mode. Remember too that when you buy our flowers and vegetable plants that we stopped using the neonicotinoid insecticide for insect control as there is some evidence these insecticides contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder of honey bees so necessary for pollinating many of our favorite fruits, vegetables and flowers. Protecting bees, water, air, soil and in general the land sometimes takes a back seat to other concerns of our day. It reminds me of what Wangari Maathai used to tell the border guards when she was the Environmental minister of Kenya as she said to them that when they are guarding the border, they should have a gun in one hand and a tree in the other. If the land literally washes away beneath your feet, what are you protecting? Food for thought! Tom

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - May 23, 2014

Now are we ever in the sunshine! A once-a-week rain of about one inch would be nice too but that remains to be seen. The greenhouse is now at it's peek with veggies and flowers as many of our production houses in back are emptying out. No doubt everyone has "the itch" to plant but I must be cautious that frost is still possible. Already Memorial Day this Monday makes the season seem short but the traditional Decoration Day is May 30th. With all the recent rain, it's a reminder that severe flooding in our area while damaging and costly, it is no where as costly as the Johnstown flood of May 30, 1889 when 2,200 people lost their lives. Garden club members should watch their e-mails and Facebook for freebies and coupons that are only valid for a short time. Our Azalea stock is just about gone but more are "in the oven" for availability in August along with more Mountain Laurel and various other shrubs. Although spring was late this year, the warming ground temperatures will make for phenomenal growth in the garden. Perennials are coming into their own with late spring bloomers replacing the spent blooms of early spring. Enjoy your long weekend. Tom

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - May 16, 2014

The severe storm last Monday resulted in the closing of the various greenhouses and storage huts which is not a good idea given that humidity levels rise and will aggravate fungal diseases on plants. Although high winds were predicted, only heavy rain ensued. Countless insects and disease organisms could destroy product in a few days because of the necessary closed-in environment. At the nursery, constant vigilance concerning scouting for problems prevents potential disaster. More tropical plants have arrived with the addition of Hibiscus and Mandevilla vines. Our second and even third batch of geraniums and hanging baskets has been pushed along with the warm temperatures so that there is plenty of selection. There too is yet another planting of grafted tomatoes and even peppers! The creeping phlox along the north side of the rock wall near the Owl Barn is stunning this year even though the plants burned severely during the winter from hell. Phlox subulata, as it is known, must be a tough plant. The botanical garden is nicely coming into bloom with more rhododendron although sadly only bloom appears around the bottom of the plants that were blasted continually with sub zero temperatures and relentless winds. The crops of Japanese Maples we've been working on for 3 years is finally ready that includes upright and laceleaf forms that are simply gorgeous. All the beauty and production of products results in work beginning at 6 am every day and continuing until 9 pm in the evening. In a way, the darkness is a welcomed respite. In general, this spring is similar to 1973 when rain occurred on 23 days out of 31 in the month of May with sunshine in-between. Don't despair with too much rain as it was only 2 years ago that the heavens seemed closed and the soil parched and dry. In other words... "count your blessings. ~ Tom

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - May 9, 2014

What a change in the weather to spring-like temperatures! The early tulips on the north side of the parking area are still in bloom with color showing on the later bloomers that will overlap and will create such a spectacle that you'll think you've just stepped into Holland. The phlox below the Owl Barn rock wall is just now putting on their coat of many colors with blues, pinks and magentas with a scattering of pure white adding to the riot of color. If that weren't enough, the hanging baskets in the greenhouse have literally exploded with growth and bloom just this past week. The perennials on display and in back stock are just about at the right stage at which they look their best for sales. It's quite a job to keep things orderly and clean and of course it never ends. Even now, our last load of balled and burlapped stock just came in along with a gorgeous load of plants from Canada which includes beautiful weeping pea trees. If you're coming to the nursery this weekend, it will be easy to find as 3,000 red tulips called Hollandia should be just coming into bloom along Cleveland-Massillon Rd. I remember planting the bulbs in the wet and cold November and so now it's time for the reward. Later in spring, Hydrangea 'Vanilla Strawberry' supplemented with annual flowers will bloom along the road. Do remember Mother's Day this Sunday. Even if your not going to give Mom a "living gift" of a plant, just bring her down to the nursery to walk and enjoy the beauty of the grounds but do prepare to walk as the color is everywhere! ~Tom

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - May 2, 2014

The tulips that we planted last November are finally coming into their prime time but the group along the road and entrance to the nursery which always bloom around Mother's Day may not make it this year until after this important date because of the cold winter delaying the emergence of the bulbs and the cool spring weather. The flowers in the greenhouse are "fluffing out" quite nicely after their trim in mid-April. Some of the growth regulators used to hold the flowers in check to prevent them from overgrowing sometimes result in poor results for customers so that we prefer an old-fashioned trim to chemicals to control growth. Another improvement scheduled is the construction of an addition to our flower production house so that we will have more room to produce vegetable plants in a wide array of varieties and sizes with better prices as well. Mother's Day is always a big day at the nursery with the nursery having the peak inventory of product from trees and shrubs, flowers and perennials. Always since 1973 have the azaleas been in prime bloom at the nursery, however, this year may not be so as the plants had a slow start after being frozen solid in the storage houses even into the first part of April. Even now, gardeners must be wary of another cold wave that might come when planting vegetable plants and flowers. Let's hope that no or just a few light frosts is all to be forced in the month of May. ~Tom