Friday, January 29, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - January 29, 2016

Tomorrow is the first in our series of educational seminars in the Owl Barn. While some of the seminars will deal solely with gardening topics and to do with our “backyards”, others will cast a wider net with subjects on environmental stewardship. The first will deal with the environmental side of things concerning the threats to the urban forest with Chad Clink of the Holden Arboretum. Holden Arboretum in Kirtland is a great resource for viewing numerous displays of plants, educational seminars and activities such as hiking trails across its vast 3600 acres. Even the Cleveland Botanical Garden is now a part of the Holden family so that now Holden’s reach extends to the east side of Cleveland. Chad’s presentation should be particularly relevant in our area as the  vast metro parks surrounding Cleveland are well known as the Emerald Necklace. As always, the seminars begin at 11 am in the Owl Barn with wonderful snacks and refreshments to boot. The cost is $8.00 for the two hour seminar which I’m sure will provide a wealth of information and hopefully numerous questions from the audience.

I can’t help but thinking about it; that is, what a nice winter so far for the end of January! As I stated before, gnawing mice have been the main problem in the winter storage houses as the normal mouse traps have not been sufficient to control their numbers. One week after various baits were applied, the damage seems to have stopped!

Enjoy the winter as it won’t last long and we’ll see you at the seminars!

Tom

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Dayton "Dirt" - January 22, 2016

With only 3 relatively cold days this past week, things are looking up again in the temperature department resulting so far in an “easy” winter.

Making cuttings, transplanting, making more cuttings, transplanting, etc. is getting old in the greenhouse but on a cold winter day, it’s not a bad use of time. Looking at the achievements for new insect control products from various companies, it looks as though neonicotinoids are fast falling out of favor. Much controversy has surrounded this chemical class that may be linked to the Colony Collapse Disorder of honey bees. Last year we did away with sprays and grub control products containing neonicotinoids that we use and sell and we’ll continue to look for suitable replacements to offer for sale that will not effect pollinators. The “evil” of the neonicotinoids is in their systemic properties in which pollinators can come into contact long after they are applied. Other chemicals are no less deadly except that they are of little consequence as long as they are not applied when pollinators are foraging.

January 30th is seminar #1 on the relationship between the urban forest and people that will be given by Chad Clink of the Holden Arboretum. No doubt he will shed some light on the problems urban trees are facing and what we can do to mitigate or even eliminate the perils to the trees. Be sure to join us in the Owl Barn on Saturday, January 30th at 11 a.m. for Chad’s presentation.

See you soon.

Tom

Friday, January 15, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - January 15, 2016

The snow has finally arrived to blanket the ground with its life giving recharge of the water aquafer and the insulating effects on the ground which is a must for the survival of winter wheat and many ornamental plants that depend on this “insulation” from bitter cold and winter wind.

At the nursery, the snow slides off to the sides of the overwintering houses which further tightens the plastic covering and provides even more cover as it piles up on the sides of the structures. It was early January of 2014 that the cold and wind arrived with a fury and without snow that did so much damage to plants in the landscape as well as in storage under cover! In mid April, some of the nursery stock was pulled out for spring sales only to still be frozen to the ground somewhat!  Luckily on this past Saturday, the day was above freezing with a break in the rain so that the product Deer Stopper could be sprayed on susceptible plants in the botanical-display garden a second time since receiving the first application on Thanksgiving. Some deer browsing was evident on Azalea ‘Herbert’ again as it is the favorite of the deer.

Although plenty of winter remains, in four short weeks the average temperature will begin to rise. Keeping busy definitely help to pass the long winter.

Tom

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - January 8, 2016

The roller coaster; that is, the winter weather has begun.  Even though we’re in the winter doldrums there is plenty of good news. Temperatures so far have not dipped below zero┬║ F although at the nursery the early morning temperature on January 5th was 4┬║ F.  If the low temperature does not fall below zero, the winter weather will be no harsher than that of climatic Zone 7.  Then there is California.  The long term prediction through January is that much of this agricultural state will  receive up to 1 foot of rain. Already the state and much of the west is receiving much needed rain and heavy snow in the higher elevations.  The bad news is the massive flood along the Mississippi River.

This past week the EPA determined that the class of insecticides called neonicotinoids is a problem for pollinators particularly honeybees and is considering a ban on the use of this insecticide group on some crops that the pollinators regularly visit to gather nectar.  Neonicotinoids have been suspected of causing colony collapse disorder in honeybee hives in which the bees leave the hive to forage for nectar but never return.  The problem gained wide attention in 2006 just a few years  after EPA approved the pesticide group for wide use on various food crops and ornamental plants for insect control.  France was the first to ban neonicotinoides from use outside followed by a broader ban from the European Union.

Surprisingly, the ground is not frozen deeply after the deep freeze earlier in the week so that tree and shrub planting is going on at the nursery even now.  As construction and repair of the self watering benches in the greenhouse continues inside and planting outside; there’s plenty to do in the office as it has to do with finalizing orders with vendors, some planning for 2017 purchase orders, sign printing, seminars. . .

There’s more than enough to do in January.

Tom

Friday, January 1, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Indeed it might be an extra happy 2016 for winter as temperatures are still relatively mild especially compared to last year.

The relentless bitter cold was rough on some of the stock in storage last year and now it seems to be fungus problems that are creating more extra work.

The new batches of flower cuttings are rooting nicely and already must be transplanted which will free up room for more unrooted cuttings.

An especially bright spot is the cost of natural gas used to heat the greenhouses as usage is much lower than normal, as well as the price.

Formerly in the winter of 2007, the cost was more than 13.00 per MCF when figuring in transportation and applicable taxes.

Wow, the cost is about 3.50 per MCF today!

Unfortunately the electric cost with all of the fees and cost recovery charges is not good news in that such charges added more than $80 to the bill for December that relates to 327 kilowatt hours used for pumping irrigation water to storage for later use.

January is a great time to look at all of the new catalogs and internet listings of all the new plants and seeds for 2016.

Already many of the orders for 2017 are already placed with various nursery vendors.  As they say, time does fly!


Tom