Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - July 30, 2015

The typical heat of July has returned and with it an improvement in the growth of vegetable gardens and annual flower plantings. At the nursery, petunias that were cut back with just “stalks” remaining have exploded into growth and a riot of color.

More and more perennials keep arriving from various vendors so that another batch of potting mix must be made. Each 25 cubic yard batch of mix is made up of 5 parts pine bark and 2 parts sphagnum peat with various fertilizers and leave to make a light fluffy mix that is difficult to over-winter and one that is of a slightly acidic nature of a ph of about 5. An ideal soiless mix should have a ph of 5.8; however, the nursery mix must be more acidic due to the higher alkalinity of the  irrigation water.

New sedums “born and bred” in Zeeland, Michigan are growing well and will allow us to offer even more color of these wonderful plants that tolerate drought so well.

A few ash trees in the lower garden have succumbed to the Emerald Ash borer and will have to be cut down. The Valley Forge American Elms that were planted 4 years ago are now almost 16 feet tall and growing fast to take over where the ash once stood. Hopefully, with hundreds of millions of dollars and hundred’s of paid workers, the Asian Long Horned Beetle can be stopped in southwest Ohio as it kills maple trees and 8 other species of trees. How I would think it prudent to tax importers by imposing a fee on wood pallet products to add to the Treasury’s coffers to fight all invasive insect and disease species. Now the budgets of the federal, state and local governments are strained fighting these pests. No doubt, this is another example of the “hidden costs” of free trade that market forces do not take into account.

At the nursery, I think that we use too much electric power to run fans, pump water and light buildings. It is quite difficult to save energy in such a business as ours but try we must. I always have thought when even at home every time a light switch goes on how much of that power  contributes to a mountain top removal somewhere. Fortunately though, renewable power source’s costs are declining and most likely “dirty” energy will be a thing of the past in the not so distant future.

Water recycling, the weed discs used for weed control on stock and the progress to reduce pesticide use are all working well with even more “tweaking” going on to improve the systems. The end game is to produce and market products that enhance and beautify the environment with  sustainable practices.


P.S. Last week on Ready, Set, Grow I stated that because of the cold weather, Bauman Orchards in Rittman would not have peaches this year. Mike Lieberth of Bauman’s called me on Monday to correct me that they in fact DO have their own peaches! Almost unbelievable after last winter’s  cold, cold February for any peach to be found in Ohio. I stand corrected as Red Haven peaches will show up in markets including the Owl Barn Market all from Bauman’s!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - July 24, 2015

The Owl Barn market is in full swing now with the arrival of Seiberling sweet corn. Brand new varieties with new sweetness and longer lasting sweetness after picking are available this year. How fitting then that the name of the first early variety is “Sweetness”! Following will be Java and Cup of  Joe which will have a certain percentage of super sweet corn on the cob along with the sugar enhanced kernals. According to Chuck Seiberling, 100% super sweet corn can be somewhat tuff so that the mixed ear of sweet corn is tender yet sweet. How different things are from 30+ years ago! Back then, sweet corn had to be eaten the same day as picked to be sweet or quickly chilled to prevent the sugar from converting to starch. Then too, yellow corn was the favorite with a small amount of bicolor sweet corn chosen by customers. Now the opposite is true today.

On the nursery side, transplanting of shrubs is still going on as well as major renovation of the grounds and the potting of scads of small perennial plugs from the companies of Walters Gardens of Zeeland, Michigan, Terra Nova of Canby, Oregon and Greenleaf Perennials of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Most of the plants will grow strong all summer and root out into their containers in order to “bulk up” for the long winter ahead. Come spring the plants will begin to grow in mid-March and will be trimmed to remove dead foliage from the previous year. The same goes for the hundreds of clematis that have been potted this past week. In early March, the plants are trimmed to 2-3 inches above the crown and then explode into growth in a matter of days as they wind around their trellis. Time is running out to take cuttings of various shrubs so that this chore will begin tomorrow and be finished by Monday.

With the new condensing boiler installed last year in the greenhouse, cool days and/or nights that would slow the rooting of the cuttings can now be cancelled out so to speak with the addition of “bottom heat” from the super efficient boiler. It seems summer is rolling along and time is limited to get necessary timely chores done.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - July 17, 2015

As the rain machine continues, long established trees and shrubs are suffering or even dying as soils that are normally well-drained are saturated with water depriving roots of oxygen. The latest casualty is a 25 year old Crimson King Maple that is collapsing because of the roots being water soaked. Then too will damage or death of plants in wet zones be apparent next year especially if next year is hot and dry.

The Edith Bogue Magnolia planted at the nursery in 1992 is suffering from the cold February temperatures as is evident by the top half barely sprouting growth so that it will be chopped back severely to grow again with the strongest growth coming from the former small leaves that  actually protected the entire tree from dying. On a lighter note, the various hydrangeas just keep blooming with Vanilla Strawberry and Strawberry Sundae dressed in white and soon to blush with a strawberry pink coloration on the flowers so that both pink and white will be displayed. One of my new favorites is the Hydrangea called Bobo that is compact in growing to 3-4 feet and pure white. It is so easy to grow in full sun or part shade that this beautiful plant should be in every landscape.

The grounds at the nursery are undergoing a major renovation that was last accomplished 10 years ago. New plantings and a massive planting of a new perennial garden in the lower half of the botanical display garden is now underway. These renovations require lots of time and labor but  in the long run are well worth it as some of the landscape areas appear “tired”.

The Plow to Chow dinner put on by the Summit County Farm Bureau was a rousing success so that a few thousand dollars will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House for their operations and building expansion that will greatly benefit families in which parents of children that need  long term care at Akron Children’s Hospital will be able to be housed while their children are undergoing treatment.  See pictures of the event

On Ready, Set, Grow 1590 WAKR tomorrow at 8 a.m. will be my guest Chuck Seiberling ofSeiberling Farms that basically will be a discussion of what goes on “down on the farm”. To get your questions answered call 330-370-1590.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - July 10, 2015

Tomorrow is the Blueberry Fest with hayrides, children’s activities and lots of blueberries all centered around the Owl barn Market. If this were not enough, the “Plow to Chow” dinner for the Ronald McDonald House is next Thursday evening in which 120 paying guests will sit down to an  outdoor gourmet dinner sponsored by the Summit County Farm Bureau. The event will also be used as “teaching” tool that will center on talks of various agriculture activities to produce food that will be on the gourmet menu and one on water conservation and recycling as we now do at the nursery. Unfortunately only paying guests will be able to take part in the activities, hor’s d’oeurves, wine and food as the $100 each that the participants have paid will cover the expenses of the gourmet chef , waiters and other workers and yet have enough left over to benefit the  Ronald McDonald house in Akron.

In the nursery, even more trees became available for sale from our spring potting and include more Eastern Redbuds, Sweet Bay Magnolias, American Elms, Flowering Pears, White Fringe Trees, American beech, Maples and even more flowering crabapples. Sadly for us, those trees were not available for sale in May when they would have quickly sold because they were bare root trees when they were potted last March. These trees will stay out all winter long and are actually meant for next spring’s sales although they could easily be planted now.

The continuous rain has been a real “bummer” in that annual flowers are not in their prime and are even dying do to the constant wetness and limited sun. Even our greenhouse manager planted 300 plus wave petunias for her daughter’s wedding which have stopped blooming and have gone to  “sticks”!

At least some sun is supposed to be present for the Blueberry Fest tomorrow.


P.S. Don’t forget to join me at 1590 AM WAKR at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 18th as I interview Chuck Seiberling about everything “down on the farm”. The Seiberling farm has been growing and selling sweet corn and other produce that Chuck’s mother began selling from the front steps of  the old house beginning in the 1940's.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dayton "Dirt" - July 2, 2015

Seems as though the “faucet” of torrential downpours is done for awhile but one inch of rain per week would be nice instead of a long, hot dry spell. Many garden plants, trees and other landscape plants are suffering from too much water especially if the soil drainage is questionable. Then if a hot dry spell ensues, the damage will show up as wilted plants or even dead ones from the damaged root system. For sure algae blooms in creeks, streams and Lake Erie will proliferate due  to thehigh amount of runoff from the fields, septic systems, leach fields and lawns. Get ready for lots of foliar disease on plants and possible problems on lawn grasses due to the constantly wet foliage and high humidity.

At the nursery the watch word for “bugs” is spider mites and then wouldn’t you know it that I found some on butterfly bush in the back stock area. Powdery mildew so far has not been a problem due to prevention spraying for mildew with a product like armicarb that is the  same product that can be sold over the shelf called Bicarb.

With the holiday of the Fourth of July tomorrow, it typically is the last day so to speak for planting heat loving vegetables such as sweet corn, beans, squash, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. Later on, the shorter days and cooler nights won’t allow the plants to fully develop if planted later than the July 4th date.

At the nursery, the azaleas are finally almost transplanted so that now we can change modes to potting more perennials and then finally to potting more shrubs in August.

The market is open with Marietta sweet corn and hopefully tomatoes from Marietta some time next week.  The tomatoes we have now are from Arkansas and they are big and red!. The next deal
are the ripening blueberries that will be in the market and then as always the Blueberry Festival on July 11th.

Hope to see you then.