Friday, September 23, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - September 30, 2016

Last weekend’s Mum Fest in Barberton was a smash hit especially with cool fall weather and sunny skies. The acceleration of the opening of chrysanthemum flowers is nothing short of amazing with the accompanying cool nights of below 55º F.

Cool nights and ample moisture are now ideal for planting all kinds of trees, shrubs and perennials as root growth will expand significantly until the ground temperature falls below 40º F. Conversely, as light levels and the day length decreases, top growth of these plants slows and eventually ceases and seems to contribute to the acceleration of the plant’s roots as long as the soil temperature is sufficient for growth. The advantage of fall planting is that before a hot, dry summer the result will be an explosion of healthy growth in spring due to the establishment of the plant from this fall planting.
Beginning in October now that the soil has cooled is a perfect time to plant spring blooming flower bulbs such as tulips, narcissus, crocus and hyacinth among others! It’s amazing how soon after planting that roots shoot out of the bulb to anchor in the soil. After 12-13 weeks of chill (40º F or lower) a chemical change inside the bulb will signal it to grow quickly and eventually bloom in spring. Without the chilling of the bulbs only some or none of the potential growth and bloom would occur.

At the nursery, a repair, cleaning and organizing mode is in swing so that all the overwintering houses will be in good shape to house trees, shrubs and perennials during winter.

The apple harvest has been underway and so too the Cider Fest in Norton will be in full swing this weekend at Columbia Woods Park. The Cider Fest was once held in northern part of the city known as Loyal Oak around Knecht’s Cider Mill. The Cider Fest back then in 1990 was begun  with snow flurries! The apple was once maligned as an evil fruit due to its use in the production of hard cider. In fact, President John Adams would “entertain” himself with a drink of hard cider every morning!

Fall, full of festivals, mums, apple picking, cool temperatures, changing colors of trees and enough sunny days is a great time of year to be in Ohio.


Dayton "Dirt" - September 23, 2016

Well another year has passed and despite the weather, a very busy Fall Festival was the case last Saturday.  While mainly for families with children, the adults seemed to enjoy the hayride and polka music as well as the food demonstration in the Owl Barn Market.  Parking for 88 vehicles was very tight for a few hours as the festival goers seemed to stay awhile finding plenty to do.

Hopefully in a few weeks, construction will start on the solar panels that will eliminate charges on one of two electric meters. The clean alternative energy fits with our program begun in 1999 of good environmental stewardship concerning the reduced use of pesticides, herbicides and water recycling.  If all goes as planned, most if not all of the nursery will receive its power from the sun instead of the dirty power produced by coal.  Another program which has proceeded almost too slowly is the one to eliminate insecticides in the greenhouse by replacing them with beneficial mites and insects to manage thrips, whitefly, aphids and harmful spider mites.  More studies and trials are needed before we go “whole hog”.

Tomorrow the mum city, Barberton, will celebrate it’s125th anniversary with the theme “Art in the Park” during the Mum Fest this coming weekend.  A special event called “Tuscany on Tusc” will feature food and wine with a special lighting ceremony of Tuscarawas Ave. in downtown Barberton.  On Saturday morning, tune into our radio show Ready, Set, Grow on 1590 am WAKR to find out more about the festivities during interviews with the Mayor of Barberton and officials putting together the Mum Fest as they have done for the past 25 years.  Mums, music, art, food and lots of fun will be centered around Lake Anna with free parking and free admission!

At the nursery too is mum madness with displays of the oh-so-dependable Igloo Mums created by the Aris Company (formerly Yoder Bros.) In Barberton, Ohio.  Let us not forget either the blessings of the recent much needed rainfall and cooler weather.

Mum is the word!


Friday, September 9, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - September 9, 2016

Finally, with a few cooler nights the chrysanthemums are showing more color. There have been other years too when bloom has been significantly delayed such as the hot, dry year of 1991 that ironically became abnormally cool in early November when temperatures plunged to 12º F! Although some relief from the drought has arrived in rainfall and somewhat cooler temperatures, more rain would be needed to end the dryness deeper into the ground.

With the hot weather, insects have been producing more generations of young which in turn has caused problems with plants. One significant insect is the lacebug which attacks azaleas (deciduous and evergreen) as well as small-leaved rhododendron such as PJM. The adult which appears  to be a small clear-winged fly, can be found on the undersides of the plant’s leave’s. The nymph stage of this insect does the real damage as they pierce the underside of the leaves to extract the plant’s fluids while it turns the leaves to a bronze-like color instead of the usual verdant green. This invasive bug was a problem for the south for years as it was first observed in mobile, Alabama in 1927. About 10 years ago, I first observed an infestation of this insect on some beautiful Azalea Boudoir in Barberton, Ohio.

For heavy infestations, spraying the plants now with an insecticide containing the active ingredient called acephate will kill adults and nymphs with the acephate’s systemic qualities. A follow up spray about 10 days later will finish off the second generation that will hatch from eggs as the eggs are not affected by the acephate. Afterwards, the plants must be sprayed right after bloom in spring and another repeat spray about ten days later to keep them free of the lacebug. One such trade name for acephate is called Bonide Systemic Insect Spray that is a concentrate to be diluted with water at a rate of 1½ fluid ounces of Bonide to 1 gallon of water to be sprayed on the plants to the point of runoff. Other brands of this insecticide might have different dilution rates due to varying amounts of concentration so that with any insecticide it is imperative to follow the directions on the container.  Another plus to using acephate is that it is not a neonicitinoid that will harm beneficial pollinators such as honeybees and bumble bees that might visit blooming plants.

For sure the chrysanthemums will color beautifully but it remains to be seen if Ohio will be painted with colorful changing leaves or if the dryness of this summer will affect the color.

Que sera sera.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - September 1, 2016

Friday is the first day of our fall sale with many items (but not all) marked down 50%.  Almost all perennials, roses, some trees and shrubs are in the sale and those that are not are from this spring’s and summer’s production so that these plants are for next spring’s sales although they can be sold this fall.  As always, the first four days of the sale will only be open to garden club members only and then everyone may take advantage of the sale prices after Labor Day.  Many items are limited so that on Friday , many or most desirable specimens probably will be sold.

How strange it is that even the Igloo mums are barely showing color as these Dendranthemums typically are in peak bloom about a week after Labor Day.  For many varieties of chrysanthemum, it looks as though the bloom period will be two or even three weeks later so that mid September  through October will now be the riot of color these plants will display.  At the nursery, colored signs accurately show color on the Igloo mums with the individual plants tagged according to variety.  Even our large 12" garden mums will be tagged according to color.

The storms last Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday nights have dropped almost two inches of rain that surely does give relief from the drought.  Some more of at least another two inches would be great but this weekend at least looks sunny and not overly hot.

Enjoy the good weather this Labor Day weekend!