Friday, December 26, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - December 26, 2014

For sure most of us would have liked a white Christmas but even so, December has been an easy weather month compared to last year.

Except for the evergreen of conifers and some shrubs, the natural world seems dead but as we all know, all is but asleep only to come alive again in 3 short months from now.

As the day length grows longer slowly, so will the interest in the garden as it will soon be time to sow some seeds and take stock of last year’s failures and successes in order to figure out what changes can be made in order to get things back on track.

Our winter seminars will begin in February this year with our annual what’s new program fittingly presented on the first day of spring!  Even now new native and non-native items are being added to our list of new offerings this year that will gradually metamorphosize northeast Ohio gardens into ones of greater beauty.

With the severe weather holding off outside improvements on the nursery grounds still continue until cold weather returns that will force the inside improvements along.

The nursery will close at 3:00 pm on New Year’s Eve for winter but will, as always, be open for our Saturday seminar series.  We’re always here to answer your questions Mondaythrough Friday so please give us a call or drop us an e-mail.

As I look across the bleak landscape of the nursery hope does spring eternal as spring is not that far away.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - December 19, 2014

Even with the return of colder weather, December has been relatively mild and at the nursery relatively easy on the greenhouse heating requirements.  While the cut Christmas trees are few, the Fraser firs left are just beautiful with the most beautiful in the 8 foot range. As of today, all remaining trees are discounted greatly so that they are able to find a home before Christmas day.  Any trees that remain after Christmas will become wood chips for the garden so that they will not be wasted.

Years ago we used to burn the left over trees by piling them up as high as possible with as many as 40-50 at a time before lighting the fire.  The fire would start out slowly followed by a little later with a flash over that would send flames into the air as high as 30-40 feet!  In the season of 1973 there were about 200 to be burned out of a little more than 1,000 trees but the very next year 3 trees were left on December 18th as we could not cut and haul them fast enough from Pennsylvania.

Next week the greenhouse will be cleaned out of poinsettias which will be a relief since the plants with their broad flower bracts occupy more room than they "deserve".

The planning and planting for next spring is accelerating with the final reviews of the perennial orders completed in order to see what’s new that has been missed and what “dogs” of perennials have not been omitted from the growing pallet of perennials.

Coming up in January, a yearly greenhouse conference at OARDC will be held on plant nutrition, water quality and insect control which will enlighten all on the latest from research based science coming out of Ohio’s own Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

This past week also concluded the long tenure of Ken Cochran as curator of the Secrest Arboretum with his retirement party of December 17th. His vision and drive has transformed the once sleepy arboretum to a more relevant “user-friendly” operation that began before the devastating tornado of 2010. He will be greatly missed and what comes to my mind is how he could ever be repaid for the benefits he has bestowed on the arboretum that has become a treasure for not only those that have helped Ken but also a treasure for the general public. God willing, may good health and happiness follow him all the remainder of his years.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - December 12, 2014

With only 10 days left of autumn, there is still plenty to do in the garden such as last minute fall cleanup of leaves, installation of tree guards to protect the bark from hungry rabbits, deer repellent on susceptible trees and shrubs and yes more destruction of aggravating weeds such as Canada thistle and hairy bittercress.

With the warm weather this weekend, another fungicide spraying will be in order for the nursery stock in cold storage so that the spray might dry before the next cold wave. Another timely chore will be the liming of the evergreen azaleas and rhododendron that were transplanted into 4" deep pots of Canadian sphagnum peat. Frequently the ph of this peat is below 4.0 and an application of dolomitic lime will bring a ph of 3.6 or so to about 4.1 which is enough to keep the plants healthy while they grow slowly all winter and develop proportionally massive root systems. In addition in the greenhouse, the poinsettias are selling well in the market which will open up more room for more cuttings to root in the prepared Fertiss flats.

After some aggravating trials causing the new boiler to shut down, a few minor adjustments has now made it “purr” so that the cuttings have their required rooting temperatures of 72º F which is essential for rooting success. About 18,000 unrooted cuttings will arrive the week of January 10th in addition to the 3,000 geranium cuttings that will be cut from the stock plants.

The cut tree sales have gone well with only some cadillac Fraser Fir left especially in the 8-9 ft size along with a few scotch pine. The grave decorations have been restocked for the weekend and still orders are welcomed for pick up or delivery right up until Christmas Eve.

There’s never a shortage of things to do here on Cleveland-Massillon Road.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Dayton "Dirt" - December 5, 2014

This first week of December while yet officially autumn, is certainly winter-like with the short, usually cloudy days and the fact that the sun sets earlier than it does during the winter solstice that is only about 2 weeks away. Even now, the poinsettia flower bracts are still expanding and becoming even so much larger and brighter especially on a brilliant red variety called Viking. 

The annual flower and some perennial cuttings have been stuck in cells filled with a porous growing medium made locally in Kent, Ohio called Fertiss. These cuttings will be rooted in about 2 weeks and remain in the small cells of about a 35 mm diameter until they are transplanted in January with some not until early March which would pertain to regal geraniums that must be satisfied with no less of 40 days of a cold temperature of about 32-40º F in order to develop and bloom in spring after being transplanted into 6" pots in which they will be sold. 

Grave blankets are still demanding a lot of time as more branches must be cut and put together for orders that sometimes continue right up until Christmas Eve. Christmas tree sales seem to be going along smoothly as most of the big Fraser Firs have been sold with many of them to be delivered and set up in homes. Due to the great weight of a 10 ft. plus fir, not any stand will do as even some brands while labeled as suitable for large trees of 10-12 ft. are more or less garbage because of cheap materials and poor construction. The Cinco brand tree stand is not of the “cheap” class as it is strong, sturdy and made here in the states. 

With Thanksgiving past us, it’s a pleasure to reflect on the bounty of the vegetable garden that some of us planted last summer as stores of potatoes, yet in-ground carrots, kale and all the frozen and canned goods that contributed to the Thanksgiving feast and will continue to provide nutrition throughout the winter. Soon, if not even now, it will be time to plan next years garden bounty as spring is only a little more than 3 months away.