Friday, March 31, 2017

Dayton "Dirt" - March 31, 2017

With April 1st tomorrow, things have readily geared up in the temperature department as well as the work amount and work speed at the nursery.  Massive amounts of bare-root trees and shrubs have arrived that must be handled quickly as the bare roots are subject to drying out that will cause death to the plants.  After preparation of trimming, tagging and root pruning, the stock must be potted in our mix consisting of pine bark that is mixed with sphagnum peat and certain fertilizers.
They are then ready for sale around July 4th, or, sometimes, not until next spring.

As the above process of potting goes on, stock out of the over-wintering huts must be pulled out and more truck loads of purchased stock still are arriving.

On the greenhouse front, flowers still need trimmed, planted, moved and spaced as these flowers are ready for the greenhouse opening about May 1st.  The cold weather of the previous week has slowed down the flowering and growth of plants on the outside although now much of the required degree days, as it is called, has been achieved already causing the environment to “wake up”.  The advent of the spring awakening was celebrated long ago onApril 1st by that date being chosen as the first of the new year.  With an act of Parliament in the year 1759, January 1st was declared the beginning of the new year.

With the above change, does that mean the father of our country, George Washington was born not on February 22, 1732 but February 22, 1733?  Or why would his birth date in the family bible be given as February 5, 1732?  Who knows!

Spring is here.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Dayton "Dirt" - March 24, 2017

Now that the Vernal equinox is past, the spring season has begun with daylight hours now longer than the nights.  Soon it will be time to stop lighting tuberous begonias and dahlias in the greenhouse as the longer daylight hours will ensure that the plants will make growth for flowering instead of the energy going to tuber formation during shorter days.

Truckloads of stock have arrived all this past week as we scurry to set up the sales yard.  Much of the stock though has not been placed on the on-line inventory in order to discourage sales (ironically) as during the unloading process, loaders and wagons are going full tilt which can make for a dangerous situation for anyone in the area.

The previous week of bitter cold placed some chores on hold so that the hurried pace of the early spring is even more accelerated.

Most of the new perennial flower stock has been potted as late last week thousands of plants arrived all at once causing the potting assembly to ramp up into high gear.  Relatively cool temperatures so far are keeping a lid on a quick spring flush especially after such an abnormally warm February.

Soon the new on-line catalog will be posted with all the beautiful photos of the stock just in time for spring sales.  To say the least, it’s been a very busy winter getting ready for spring.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Dayton "Dirt" - March 17, 2017

Winter’s last gasp (hopefully) is done at least concerning minimum low temperatures in the teens. Snow is another matter as Lake Erie is unfrozen and strong winds from the north could bring additional snow to southern Summit County and areas even farther south through April. As far as the plant business, snow is not a bad thing with great insulating power during cold and especially clear nights. Still the “show must go on” as delaying work in the greenhouse is not possible as stock keeps arriving for transplanting and our rooted cuttings will not fare well in their small cells if not transplanted soon enough. Fortunately, all roses were potted just before the onset of the cold so that now they are safely tucked in a covered house with a small heater that keeps the temperature from falling no lower than 28ºF. The cool period during rooting is necessary in order to retard growth of the plants in order that the roots can grow and expand to fill the pot and support the top  growth later. Once fully rooted in the pot and a moderate amount of short growth in early May and once they have gone through a process called hardening-off in which the roses will be ventilated continuously in order to get them used to wind and cool if not cold temperatures at night and conversely bright sunshine of the day, they are ready for sale.

Removal of the vinyl tree guards on trees over-wintered outside has been delayed at least a week due to the abnormally low temperatures. Young trees used to the guards that are put on in December to protect the bark from hungry rabbits could suddenly experience a bark split if low  temperatures in the teens or lower combined with an early rising sun which results in a temperature difference between the sunny side and the early morning shaded side.

One aspect of this past cold week is that for sure the quick rush of spring due to the weird warm weather in February and early March, will definitely be slowed.

As the sun returns to the north to rise earlier and set later, the newly installed solar panels are entering their high production period of April through September in which they will send more power to the grid than is used in the greenhouse operations at least for the one meter. It’s good to know that for every one of these solar kilowatts produced means coal that is not mined and burned for the production of electricity.

With St. Patrick’s Day here, today is the day to plant peas. What “they” don’t tell you is how do you plant peas if the ground is frozen! LOL!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Dayton "Dirt" - March 10, 2017

Amazingly, spring flowering bulbs are emerging everywhere as abnormally warm temperatures continue to push the spring season. Surprisingly, the severe freezes of last Friday and Saturday did not seem to bother the flowers as even the narcissus showing flower buds don’t seem to be affected. Tulips though have been ‘tested’ by deer in some areas last  week even when they had emerged from the ground no more than 2 inches! The next day, all the thousands of tulips were sprayed including those along Cleveland-Massillon Road as the deer herds this year seem quite  aggressive.

Thousands of perennial flowers have been arriving from Minnesota and Holland, Michigan to be potted up into gallon pots or larger for later sales in spring. Unfortunately, the plants must be handled quickly as diseases can damage and even kill the tightly packed plants in the warmer weather. Plants in what are called plugs and bareroot ones are potted in an assembly line fashion where 3 potters place trays of the then potted plants on a roller conveyor where they can be tagged and fertilized to then be placed in what is called a minimum heat greenhouse in which the plants will grow to a saleable size.

Already the warm weather has caused a speed up of bringing tightly packed azaleas out of winter storage to the movable roof greenhouse called a Cravo greenhouse which is the name of the manufacturer from Canada. The spacing of the plants with the greater light and air movement has prevented fungus problems that would eat away at the plants very quickly. Soon will be the unloading of truckloads of nursery stock and removing thousands of plants from winter storage.

March as well as April is quite strenuous at the nursery as the days seem to pass quickly with all the multiple chores in progress all at once.

Que sera sera.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dayton "Dirt" - March 3, 2017

With February now past with its record high temperatures, March is traditionally the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Strangely though, February mostly went out like a lamb with temperatures and sun feeling like spring when it even isn’t spring!  Sadly, many spring flowering bulbs have awakened early along with the swelling of the buds of some trees and shrubs as they have been “fooled” that it’s time to awaken.

At the nursery, deer have nibbled at some emerging tulips already when usually the plants are sprayed with a deer repellent called Deer Stopper in late March.  The Valley Forge American Elm next to the Owl Barn is already getting ready to bloom which soon after will be followed by the dropping of the protective bud scales and then the emergence of leaves.

Inside the well-ventilated winter storage huts, Hydrangea Endless Summer, Bloomstruck and other large-leaved types are opening with leaves even though temperatures in the huts drop to the outside air temperatures at night which has been in the 30's.  Interesting too is that bright sunshine has caused such high generation of electricity in the newly installed solar panels that about 16 kilowatts per hour are being produced by noon which is more than that in use so that electricity is being sent back to the grid.

The March extended forecast while a bit warm is not as warm as the recent February warmth and will tend to check the advance of the degree days that plants receive to break into full growth and bloom.

This Saturday will be our seminar on Hemerocallis genus (Daylilies) as much intensive breeding is bringing on numerous, unusual and beautiful varieties.  Our speaker, Rae Dickens is from the Western Reserve Daylily Society and will expond on the creation of these new types as well as showing off the latest cultivars.  Last year when Rae Dickens came to the “What’s new” seminar for 2016, she related to me that what we were showing in daylilies was “old news” so that I asked her to speak this year.

The nursery is open but the plant selection is quite limited as nothing will be put on display until early April as there is always the danger of a very severe cold weather blast such as on April 8th of 2008 when temperatures dropped to 19ºF overnight accompanied by 35 mile per hour winds after a warm March pushed everything ahead.  To say the least, this spring season is going to be very interesting.