Friday, May 29, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - May 29, 2015

After last week’s light frost, the weather has been sunny, warm and dry.  A two inch rain or more is needed to thoroughly water the packed earth.  With water, warmer nights and days will spark the growth of both flowers and vegetable plants.  At the nursery, the production greenhouse is nearly empty yet supplies of small potted flowers and hanging baskets are plentiful in the greenhouse used for sales.  Perennials are all the rage now as June is perennial gardening month.  The remainder of some of the new perennials for 2015 are just about ready so that many will be in the perennial house this weekend.  Some of the new “stuff” includes Ligularia ‘Bottle Rocket’ and Ajuga ‘Golden Glow’.  The tea and David Austin roses are budding and should be in glorius bloom in early to mid-June.

The grounds are a mess with weeds as it has been quite busy and difficult to get control of weeding so that the importance of a quick and thorough job is now apparent with garlic mustard ready to go to seed.

The last plants of our potted vegetables are now on the shelf with still a very decent selection of hybrid and heirloom tomatoes and peppers.  June is an excellent month for planting successive crops of tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash...up until about the 4th of July.  Then in mid to late August will come planting time for more vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, turnips and parsnips that with proper preparation can be harvested in winter.

Our next batch of hydrangea is just about ready that will include a wide variety of color and forms.  Hydrangea are truly a miracle in the landscape because of their long bloom time and plants that are short and compact, medium sized or tall for just about any landscape.  Then too will our plantings of the Proven Winner shrubs from the Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand haven, Michigan be ready that will include Cephalanthus (buttonbush), new butterfly bushes, new Clematis and much more.  How things have changed in the last several years in the plant selection now available!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - May 22, 2015

With Memorial Day upon us, planting the flower garden is in full swing with hopefully continued warm weather. Remember too to plant for pollinators so that butterflies, honeybees and native bees will visit your yard and garden as if it were a food station so that the “blessing” of pollination performed by these critters must be bestowed on your property increasing the bounty of the garden.

At the nursery, the greenhouse factory is still cranking out hanging baskets, vegetable plants and flowers galore all for late May and at least through June. One of the most enthusiastic gardeners at the founding of the country was Thomas Jefferson who was a product of the late eighteenth century called the Age of Enlightment. Jefferson as younger man planted more than 1000 fruit trees at his Monticello home and later on as an old man used to sit in a chair in his perennial garden while reading a book. At the age of 68 in 1811 he wrote his friend Vincent Peale the following letter:

“I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position & calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another and instead of one harvest a continued one tho’ the year. Under a total want of demand except for our family table I am still devoted to the garden but tho’ and old man, I am but a young gardener.”

I think this letter summarize what many gardeners experience and believe that is the essence of gardening.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - May 15, 2015

Here we go again with cool weather and some frost. Many annual flowers are tolerant to a light frost but some are not which would include wave petunias and New Guinea impatiens. Also, as everyone knows or should know, heat loving vegetable plants such as tomatoes and peppers will not tolerate a frost. Covering plants with a sheet or blanket is helpful but not plastic as the cold will be conducted through the plastic where it touches the plant. Watering frost off plants in the very early morning before sunrise is helpful in that the heat in the water will raise the plant’s temperature above freezing and prevent the plant’s cells from breaking due to the freezing of the water within the cells. Tropical plants too do not like cold nights even if it does not frost so that it’s a good idea to “drag” them indoors when temps fall below 50ºF.

With May 30th the official free frost date for northern Ohio, it is always a risk to plant tender annual and vegetable plants early.

This week we received our last shipment of hibiscus, mandevilla and other tropicals from Florida so that hopefully they will be gone by June 1st as I don’t look forward to spaying them for the many Florida bugs that come with them sometimes. Selection of most perennials, vegetable plants andflowers looks great through Memorial Day so hope to see you soon.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - May 8, 2015

How long we have waited for the warm weather of May and an end to the cold nights. While the greenhouse has been very busy this past week I would still advise caution in planting too early even with the long range forecast looking good as the official last frost free date is May 30th for northern Ohio. The greenhouse has been restocked with herbs and flats of flowers and veggies of every description and an early delivery of tropical plants is almost making the greenhouse burst with a  wide selection of hibiscus, mandevilla, plumbago, palms and bananas.

The production greenhouse in the rear of the property is still relatively full although “holes” are beginning to show up where once there was a mass of color. On a happy note, some petunia, hanging baskets looked as though they had the Tobacco Mosaic virus but lab tests revealed that a mottling of leaves was only a genetic defect. The new Torelus hanging baskets are coming into full bloom and are just gorgeous especially since they had a late trim to make them full and compact.

With color everywhere at the nursery, the whole scene seems surreal as if only a dream could produce such beauty.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - May 1, 2015

It’s finally May day and the greenhouse with annual flowers, hanging baskets and vegetable plants is finally open. Many home improvement stores were stocked on the inside and outside with tomato and pepper plants as well as annual flowers over a week ago which seemed very strange to me considering the frosty nights and cool to cold daytime temperatures. Many new varieties of flowers and veggies are packed in the greenhouse this season due to the availability of unrooted cuttings  that were rooted last winter in our greenhouse and the fact that the purchase of a new seeder and seed germination chamber made it easier to grow at least 50 new varieties of vegetable plants in 3½” pots. One disappointment though is a pepper that is the hottest on record. The seed germination rate was only about 50% and the plants are weak even though the seed was sown in mid-March.

Torelus, Stachys, Crazytunias, dark red-leaved Caladiums, darker and blacker Collasia (elephant ears) are all the rage are just a few of the new varieties available. As usual, color is everywhere in a  kaleidoscopic array. A few items are not available to get as it is so early yet although the weather for the next 10 days looks great for growing. However, do remember that it’s early May.

As usual, the Calliope geraniums in hanging baskets are beautiful although next year one new type that will provide a dark-leaved version that is just as shade tolerant and just as vigorous in sun. Gorgeous dahlias are in bud with sporadic bloom with lots more “in the oven” to come. This year we rooted cuttings of dahlias shipped from Costa Rica that makes it quite easy to offer more colors, sizes and shapes of this gorgeous flower. While setting up the greenhouse for sales I noticed  some of the flowers on the vining geraniums dropping prematurely which is an indication of a build up of ethylene gas. On close observation, heavy winds forced exhaust gases from the heaters into the greenhouse and birds were flying in and out of one of the vent pipes. A simple  moderation of the exhaust pipe got rid of the nesting birds and the wind push back.

With the perennial greenhouse and annual greenhouse both open the work load to keep these greenhouses cleaned and stocked increases greatly as if there already isn’t enough work!