Friday, August 29, 2014

Dayton "Dirt' - August 29, 2014

Today is the start of the “Big Sale” when many items are 50% off the regular price. Not everything is on sale but only but only the plants marked with clear signage with the 50% off. There is quite a  desirable selection of half-off items in the first few days of the sale until the inventory begins to  dwindle down.

While mums and asters are not included in the sale, the plants are reasonably priced and of excellent quality. The Igloo mums have caused quite a stir since many of the regular mums were wiped out last winter. The regular mums, Chrysanthemum morifolium do have their place as they 
are perfect for decorating the porch, patio or even planted in the yard and the fact that they are available in so many more colors than the Igloo type. Fall blooming asters are worthwhile too with their blue, lavender and pink blossoms and are a favorite of honeybees not yellow jackets.

Honeybees have been under heavy pressures from a variety of sources including pesticides, mites, viruses and who knows what else. Planting for pollinators such as honeybees, mason bees, butterflies, and bumblebees is environmentally sound and benefits us as well that these  critters can better survive to pollinate some of our own favorite food crops.

Next week is the arrival of another crop of western red cedars, arborvitae, pyramidal boxwood and other shrubs for fall planting. No doubt the summer rains have kept ground moisture high which should make fall planting a breeze. For sure lawns might need some help such as fertilizing, thatching and over-seeding and now is the time to start.

Hopefully you’ll find what your looking for on sale but do get here at the early as soon as you can as we sell out quickly of some choice items.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dayton "Dirt' - August 22, 2014

Last week I had an eye-opening experience in Zeeland, Michigan which is a beautiful small city just east of Holland. Zeeland is the home of Walters Gardens which is about a one thousand acre perennial nursery which is on the cutting edge of innovation. Walter’s not only has field production of various plants such as daylilies, hostas, lavender and so on but also has greenhouses full of small pots of perennials in trays of 20, 30 and 72 plants ready for shipment now or next spring to growers like us that we’ll transplant to larger size pots in order to grow larger for next spring and summer sales. On a tour of the nursery, I especially noticed the cleanliness of the fields, greenhouses and packing and shipping houses. Then too were the beautiful display gardens of older and the newly released plants showing off in full glory in the bloom of a summer perennial garden. Nearby the gardens were test plots of yet to be released new plants with only the genus name and a number identifying them until they are tested and evaluated before being named and released.

A full time breeder and accompanying assistants continually churn out new and improved varieties in the Walter’s line of offerings. I have been planting product from Walters Gardens since 1978 and have had tours as recently as 2001 but I must admit that I was amazed by the expansion that had occurred since that time. Dennis Walters, the founder of the company still lives on the property but is quite up in years. Walters employees are “encouraged” not to give sales presentation or work on  Sunday’s which stems from the area’s founding by religious Dutch settlers in 1846. In fact, I remember speaking with a local resident in 1982 in which it was “not cool” to mow the lawn on Sunday in Zeeland! While Holland, Michigan is known for Tulip Time there is so much more to do.

Downtown Holland is very clean and inviting which I think anyone would expect with its Dutch roots. Walters Gardens goes along with the Dutch theme in that they are not satisfied with a particular variety of perennial but always have to tweak it and improve it.

At home at the nursery, construction is well under way of the new greenhouse. Transplanting of perennials and shrubs still occupies the equipment barn space and new ideas are taking shape to roll them out for spring.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - August 15, 2014

The cooler weather while keeping the tomato ripening at bay has been right up the alley for garden mums. In past years searing heat in late summer has caused a delay in bloom by as much as 10 days, however; with the cooler nights of this summer bud iniation and some color in the early flowering varieties is now occurring. For years the garden mums have been returning to grow and bloom again in yards except for this year because of the severe winter with insufficient snow cover.
Frequently we are asked if the garden mums are hardy! Hardy is a relative term and in this case refers to winter hardiness. The “true” answer is that the Chrysanthemum morifolium is a tender perennial that will return after winter if certain conditions are met such as a mild winter the temperatures above 0ºF or even much colder if snow cover of several inches or more is present, the plant is well established before winter, soil drainage (even in winter) is excellent and the old dead crown in late fall is not cut back until early spring.

The Aris company (formerly Yoder Bros.) of Barberton, Ohio has bred the mums for enjoyment for splashes of fall color in yards and in pots on the deck, patios and porches. For durability and almost fool proof winter hardiness, the Aris company has refined breeding of a genus called Dendranthema which is very similar in appearance to Chrysanthemum morifolium but without the fuss. Brand new colors have broadened the Dendranthemums appeal in the last few years although they lack the wide variety of chrysanthemum.

Here at the nursery, we test at least 3 new varieties every year in which several criteria have to be met before the plants will be released for the market. The reliably winter hardy Aris Dendranthemums are known as Igloo mums and will be available sometime next week.

More rain this past week has replenished our water supply of rain water for the nursery stock and perennials and has made it necessary to spray a growth regulator on the young azaleas in order to harden them off for winter. The plants are normally hardened off by withholding irrigation
and actually allowing the plants to wilt quite severely to slow growth. With the continuing rains in the normally dry August growth still “wants” to push on the plants.

Again as a reminder, remember to keep an eye on the lawn destroying grubs by taking note of patches of discoloration in the turf and /or checking for patches that will come up with hand pulling due to grubs feeding on the plant’s roots. Also as a reminder, Dayton Dollars are good for about another 2 weeks so don’t forget to use them before they expire.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - August 8, 2014

The site of the new greenhouse is finally finished as significant elevation and drainage had to be accomplished before construction can begin next week. The structure is an addition to an already existing greenhouse and will be used for annual flowers and vegetable plants for spring sales. The addition of a new powerful and efficient boiler will enable the heating of the various plants root zones which will result in faster growth and the keeping of the heat where the plants are sitting  instead of heating so much of the air and thus leaking more heat through the roof.

As with our other greenhouse, the self-watering benches for the plants known as ebb and flow will be employed. These benches are quite expensive but in the long run will cut down on disease problems caused by overhead watering, reduce labor costs because of hand watering and save water and fertilizer as the water used up is that which only is transpired by the plants with the excess draining to the storage tank for later use.

Last weekend’s rain was welcome although it was not quite enough. Although about a week ago Copley Circle and farther north enjoyed a down pour that lasted at least a half hour! I’m sure the residents in Bath Township were a little worried after the devastating flood of May 12th when the Yellow Creek overflowed causing massive damage in a once in a 500 or 1000 year flood depending upon which “expert” one might believe. In July of 2003, a flood resulted in major damage along the waterway with the Barberton-Norton area getting blasted on July 19, 2011 and even worse on July 10, 2013 when 3 inches of rain fell in just an hour with a storm starting about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Finally, the skies opened up this past Tuesday with at least 1 inch of rain over the nursery which greatly supplemented the irrigation water in the pond.

The hydrangeas along the road at the nursery while opening almost pure white have now faded to the white with a pink blush which is indicative of Vanilla Strawberry, an introduction a few years ago from Bailey Nursery in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since 2003, new hydrangea introductions have become common place probably due to an article in Martha Stewart’s popular magazine some years ago.

Many other plant species both native and non-native seem neglected even though they have many desirable qualities in the landscape. (Martha where are you?) No doubt savvy marketing helps promote plants usage in landscapes but one would like to think that any products success in the  marketplace would be due to its attributes of beauty and improving human life.

While there is plenty of summer to go, the long days are beginning to wane before the signal of another fall. Enjoy the summer bounty while it lasts.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - August 1, 2014

With the first of August, the bounty of the vegetable garden is beginning to flow although a little slower than usual due to the cool days and even cooler nights. Sweet corn at the Seiberling Farms was delayed about a week because of late planting due to prolonged wet weather in spring and now with the cool weather, a few more days of delay were added so that the Owl Barn was not able to offer Seiberling sweet corn until late last week.

The nursery stock seems to enjoy the cool weather as it is making growth almost as much as weeds - but not really! Just a few more cuttings of shrubs have to be stuck and then it’s done for the year although the new greenhouse facility under construction now will make the sticking of various herbaceous perennials possible that will be transplanted next spring.

The Thailand Giant elephant ears that are planted in pots along the driveway and in front of the owl barn are causing quite a stir. Some leaves are approaching five feet in length and 30 inches across and it seems some will grow larger than that! The plants were shipped from Zeeland, Michigan in small 3 inch pots at the end of March and then transplanted into a 1 gallon nursery pots. In mid-May, Thailand Giant was transferred to a 10 inch pot when in early June it was clear some drastic measure was needed to allow the plants to grow so that the plants were planted to a 15 gallon pot!

The begonias along the road and entrance driveway have also grown “abnormally” well in that their genetics “program” the plants for gigantic growth. They are known as Begonia ‘Surefire’.

The cool summer is heaven for various conifers as they suffer from too much heat as was the case in 2012 when many even died. With high temperatures consistently above 85º F in the summer of 2012, conifers closed their stomata (breathing pores) so that no exchange of gases could take place for the process of photosynthesis to occur. The cool weather too has caused harmful spider mite species to languish as they just love the heat and dryness in order to colonize various plants  exponentially! The European two-spotted spider mite is one of the worst as it just loves to suck plant juices from its host plant which include a myriad of annual flowers, house plants, shrubs and even trees.

It won’t be long that the first tomatoes will be ripening in quantity at produce farms and backyard gardens then the question will be as to what to do with all of them.