Friday, March 27, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - March 27, 2015

The race is on with this week’s receipt of bare root trees and shrubs that must be handled quickly. First, the plants must be root and top pruned then potted into the proper sized containers and watered. Some, like the various big-leaved hydrangeas such as Endless Summer and Bloomstruck must be kept on a small amount of heat so that the temperature remains above 28ºF. Other types of hydrangea along with various trees and shrubs will remain outside as the sometimes frigid nights don’t bother them. Next, three semi truck loads of balled and burlapped and container stock was received that must be placed, counted and tagged and in some cases, dug into gravel to protect the roots from drying out.
In the greenhouse progress is continuing in planting shipments of plants overdue by a week. The trimming of hanging baskets and flats upon flats of flowers that next week will be planted in 4½” pots for sale in early May. The first wave of 4½” pots of flowers number around 8,000 followed  by another round of 7,000 for sales in mid to late May.
Last week’s seminar of “What’s New for 2015" was a big success but I must admit that I’m glad the series for this spring is over due to the heavy load of the spring.
What a week this has been!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - March 20, 2015

The first shipment of trees for potting just arrived last week which includes maples, flowering crabapple, whitespire birch and many others. The trees have a trade 3 gallon root ball that only have a mesh bag to hold soil around the roots which prevents the trunk of the trees from scraping by plastic pots. Since the trees have already been root-pruned by the mesh bag in which they were grown, potting should be easy and fast followed by rapid rooting into there new 10 and 15 gallon pots.
In the greenhouse, new varieties of annuals have arrived to be made into hanging baskets and single pots. Torelus and Stachys are two new types of crosses between genus categories (which is quite rare) and will produce new exciting flowers that do not exist in nature. The rooting of  cuttings in the greenhouse still goes on with a shipment of unrooted perennial and annual flowers from Brazilwhich includes the Sun Harmony type of impatiens in which one plant grows into a small flowering shrub- like plant by mid-summer. These impatiens are directly stuck into a 3" pot and must be syringed with clear water about once an hour on a sunny day so that they can begin to form roots in 2 weeks. Then too are the geranium cuttings that have been directly stuck into 3 inch pots in which they will be sold in May.
Hundreds of clematis vines are waking up and will begin to need trimmed weekly to develop a compact bushy form. At least three new varieties will be offered this year with no less than 8 new clematis vines already ordered for the spring of 2016. The new crop of clematis will arrive in mid-July in order to be potted and then over-wintered just at freezing to vernalize the plants. Vernalized or cold treated dormant clematis vines along with many perennial flowers grow beautifully the next spring as the dormant period gives the plant time to grow a massive root system.
So much goes on behind the scenes at the nursery that some days seem like a ball of confusion although somehow with a lot of effort, “it” all gets done - well almost all.
Happy Spring!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - March 13, 2015

Finally, the weather of March has returned and with it melting snow. Surprisingly, the snow is slowly disappearing which is a “good thing” as a fast melt could precipitate flooding. No signs of life are yet visible however as the snow recedes many spring flower bulbs will be popping through the soil because of the thick winter blanket that sealed in the ground heat.

At the nursery, soil mixing, potting, trimming and watering in a 12 hour per day schedule is the norm. The new seed germination chamber is working well as now several flats of peppers have been sown with tomatoes to follow near the end of the month. Sowing tomato seed too early will result in “stretched” plants by the time they can be sold in May. In fact, tomatoes are left to wilt almost to the point of no return in an effort to subdue growth and to keep them short and stocky. In Japan, vegetable plants in greenhouses are brushed by hand in order to mimic wind to “fool” the plants to thicken their cell walls instead of the stretching they normally do in a greenhouse.

Bare root David Austin English roses have just been potted and will be ready the first or second week of May. All the varieties that will be available have a heavy fragrance just like the old-fashioned Bourbon roses of yesterday. The tight flower with its high petal count too have that old-fashioned look along with a winter hardiness rating of climatic zone 5.

Bright sunny days require lots of watering in the greenhouses but also give us the opportunity to “pump” the plants with fertilizer to provide for the rapid growth caused by the warm sunshine and longer days of March. Only large-leaved begonias and dahlias are still not satisfied with the length of the days so that supplemental light to break the photo period on these plants is necessary until early April to keep the plants growing instead of going dormant and forming tubers.

Now that March is well under way, the warmer days of April are on the horizon.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - March 6, 2015

Even with the snow last Sunday, the much warmer temperatures are such a welcome relief. Even so, Old Man Winter still reminded us who is yet boss with the low temperatures this Friday morning.
Transplanting in the annual flower greenhouse is continuing at a feverish pace as delayed shipments of young plants and our own rooted cuttings are transplanted. Then next week another batch of unrooted perennial cuttings, Sun Harmony impatiens, ground covers and dahlias arrive. If all this isn’t enough, at least two thousand geranium cuttings have to be taken and then prepared to be stuck into 6 packs that will be placed on small rubber tubes through which hot water circulates in order to give the cuttings “bottom” heat so that they will form roots. Then at least 2 shipments of perennial plants must be potted this week along with about a thousand roses arriving. Oh what  fun t is trying to sandwich everything together while still plowing snow and conducting seminars!
This weeks seminar will be an informative talk on the growing and many uses of gourds by Marlene Bolea. My guest this week on Ready, Set, Grow on WAKR 1590 am will be Carol Zeh talking about warblers as they return from their winter quarters to Ohio. After Carol’s Warbler presentation on March 14th, we’ll finish up with the “What’s New for 2015" seminar on the first day of spring.
Let’s all cheer up as it looks as though the cold weather is on the run. Now it’s California’s turn for heavy snow in the mountains and a slow, steady rain for a couple of weeks to end the lousy drought!