Friday, May 27, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 27, 2016

A cool May has now suddenly become a summer with warming soils pushing the growth of vegetable plants and flowers. 

Tomatoes and peppers just love the warm nights, too. There is a noticeable growth sprout that plants undergo as their cells divide and expand quickly.

Especially important at the nursery is a necessary constant check for blocked or maladjusted overhead sprinklers around the nursery stock as the 80º+ weather and wind increases the transpiration of water through the plants leaves.

So far, the irrigation water supply is more than adequate although at least one inch of rain per week would be enough to keep it replenished with collecting all the runoff from rain and irrigation.
Memorial Day strangely has been the signal for the start of summer even though summer is more than 3 weeks away! Memorial Day rituals not only include picnics, visiting and decorating the graves of loved ones passed on but also includes planting the veggie garden.  In fact, the entire month of June is ideal for vegetable planting except for maybe the cool loving crops of broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

At the Seiberling Farm in Norton, successive plantings of sweet corn continue even a few days after July 4th!

Coming up in June, too, is strawberry time with roadside stands full of quarts of freshly picked Ohio strawberries only to be overlapped and continued with luscious raspberries and blackberries.

Then there is August for planting turnips, parsnips and carrots as these root crops store nicely in the ground with a layer of straw over the tops to protect them from the bitter cold of winter.

Happy Memorial Day and planting everyone!


Friday, May 20, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 20, 2016

Last Sunday morning was certainly cold but was devoid of frost as the wind kept the air from stratifying and leaving frost on the plants.  Again, Monday morning only a very light frost was avoided as the temperature dropped to only 36º F at the nursery and again because of a light wind.

The powerful 20 horsepower electric water pump again came in handy with its 670 gallon per minute pumping capacity that keeps the frost at bay as the warmer irrigation water keeps the plants from freezing and “burning” the new growth on the stock.

The tea, floribunda and knockout roses are budding up nicely and without a hint of disease or unwanted bugs.  The greenhouse too seems to be largely free from mildew and the dreaded botrytis blight thanks to the extra ventilation during cold dark days that favor disease.  Unfortunately, heaters sometimes do automatically turn on but the extra expense is worth it to have higher quality flowers.  The larger annual flowers and huge geranium will have the weather to finally come out of the greenhouse to the display area in front of the store.  Beautiful, compact plants are the norm with an abundance of several radiant colors.  The geraniums from which several batches of cuttings were taken are now about 2 feet wide and full of bloom.  How strange that only 6 weeks ago the plants were cut back to nothing but stubbs and now are gorgeous.  Perennials too have “fluffed out” with more and more different varieties coming on stream from the new Salvia ‘April Night’ and more almost foolproof Igloo mums in the 4½ inch pots that will bloom early this fall.

Soon more of the ever popular Chicagoland Green boxwood will come “out of the oven” as it is growing faster than expected.  Maybe just maybe, there will be no more frost.  We can only hope.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 13, 2016

With a couple of cold nights coming up and a danger of frost in open rural areas, gardeners will for sure be covering susceptible plants or at least rising early in the morning to soak the plants with water to preserve the plant cells from freezing and bursting.

Tropical plants and hanging baskets should be brought inside as even if they are not coated with frost, the bloom and new growth production could be stunted for a short time.

Almost everything that we could possibly bring out from the growing area in back has now been displayed so that more stock to fill voids must come from Ohio's nursery belt in Lake County.

Some greenhouse product is already running short from vendors and from our own greenhouse. This is surprising especially since the prime planting season has not yet begun.

The evergreen Azaleas are now on the downside as far as bloom in concerned.  The Rhododendron and Mountain Laurels now just coming into bloom and taking up the lack caused by the Azaleas.

The Korean Lilacs are coming into bloom with their heavy fragrance that soon will be followed by blooming roses of all kinds and colors.

Next will come the pink and blue tones of the macrophylla hydrangeas to be followed by the white and pink tones of the panicle group.

For the next 2-3 months at least, you could say its nothing but a bloom fest at the nursery!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - May 6, 2016

While the weather has been somewhat cool with cold nights the first week of May, unusual it is not.  What is unusual is that most areas here have not experienced a severe frost which may be creating a sense of “planting” security for more inexperienced gardeners.  Normally, the last for sure frost free date for northern Ohio is May 30th which about 2 weeks earlier for southern Ohio.  While seeds and cold tolerant vegetable plants such as broccoli and cauliflower should go in now,  tomatoes and peppers are better planted at least after the middle of May.

In the greenhouse we had a very localized infestation of an insect called a thrip which we were able to wipe out over a two week period by isolating the plants and treating them.  This nasty insect can quickly get out of control and ruin flowers and even kill plants.  Our scouting program in which we search for insect, disease and spider mites makes it possible to react quickly to get the problem under control as one of the worst aggravations for a customer is to have purchased plants with bugs!

With Mother’s Day weekend coming up and expected beautiful weather, the nursery should be quite busy so that we’ve opened up at least 20 more parking places and have extra help on hand to help customers load their vehicles.  The month of May is everyone’s favorite gardening month as  the cooler weather, usual sunshine and the incredible beauty of spring is on display that excites everyone.  Almost 100 years ago, the spring was much cooler as photos of the old farm house dated May 10, 1923 show children standing on the north side of the barn with their winter coats  and boots on which appears to be at least 6 inches of snow! It is unlikely we’ll experience anything like a deep snow in May although I’m not betting on a frost free may either.  Let’s just enjoy the weather whether it’s rain or shine.

As we all know, gardening can be addictive but as always. It beats watching television!