Blog Archive 2012

Dayton "Dirt"
Weekly Blog entries
by Tom Dayton

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December 28, 2012
While the clock starts winding down on 2012, the days now are slowly growing longer daylight hours so that when the Vernal Equinox arrives in March, the day length all over Earth will be equal.

Until March, plants will be in a state of “hibernation” so to speak. The dormant phase is very necessary for plants to break into proper growth in spring as so many hours of temperatures below 40F must be achieved before dormancy can come to an end. The vernalization process provides excellent protection for plants in the temperate climate as they are not “fooled” by a prolonged January or later winter thaws that ordinarily would signal growth only to have disaster strike when the temperature would abruptly fall again to below freezing.

Our multitudes of Ferns, Helleborus, Clematis, Coneflower and Pulmonaria seem to be doing well on minimum heat (28F) which results in dormant above ground tops with a still growing root system. The vast root system and the vernalization of the plants all winter will cause an explosion of growth in mid-spring with robust, healthy product read for sale in early April.

Another change in our operation will be the start of QR tags on some of the perennial plants on shrubs and more signs as more of the customers today have smart phones to access more detailed information quickly.

Welcome 2013!

Tom

December 21, 2012
Today is the first day of winter that is starting to feel like winter although the winters of the late 1970's were much colder with some days sporting a high for the day in the single digits!

Besides the Christmas season winding down, this week has been finalizing the inventory of hard goods and plants so that when our new software is up and running, a live inventory will be available on line. With the constant and instant updating of inventory, what is currently “on hand” will be much more accurate; that is, as long as everyone cooperates as far as committing and deleting inventory with accuracy.

Most inventory line items will then have a “thumb nail” icon next to each listing in which the viewer can click on to produce a clear, enlarged color photograph and a brief description of the plant.

The amount of cut Christmas trees has dwindled although the Scotch Pine and Fraser Fir available are still quite nice. We’re now discounting the trees in the amount of $10 less for the Scotch Pine and $20 less for the more expensive Fraser Fir. Grave blankets will still be available for pick up or delivery until 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

In 4 days Christmas will arrive bringing in a day of joy, togetherness, peace and quiet and excitement all mixed together.

Joyeux Noel

Tom

December 14, 2012
With only 11 days until Christmas, the weather has been more like spring than December. The slow soft rain has rehydrated the ground from last summer’s drought which will do well for the water table especially important for all of us that depend upon wells.

Already the Christmas season is slowing up somewhat at the nursery as our tree selection is starting to thin and the grave blanket production is winding down. In just the past 10 days though the colored brachts on the poinsettias seem to have enlarged so much so that only a limited amount of foliage is visible.

Bulb planting is still continuing after we planted 2,000 tulip bulbs last week only to be followed by more hyacinths and another 1,000 bulbs to go elsewhere on the grounds for late April and early May bloom.

This past week while the weather turned warmer and sunny, we did apply some fungicide to the plant storage houses as well as a 20% bleach solution to the German Iris to prevent bacterial infections caused by the humid conditions.

More improvements are still going on the grounds and building so that they may be completed before the busy spring which for us starts the last week of February due to our growing operation.

Remember that since our selection of plants is limited at this time of year, a gift idea would be a gift card from Dayton’s that never expires and never has a “service” fee that reduces its value.

Stop by soon.

Tom

December 7, 2012
With the weather so mild for this time of year problems can arise in our plant over-wintering huts from the fungus known as Botrytis.  The disease is a gray mold that will grow on plants when the temperature is 29 F or greater and relative humidity is at 50% or more.  The damage this fungus causes is quite severe from the destruction of foliage as well as the flower beds of some of the flowering plants.

In order to check the spread of Botrytis, we ventilate the houses when temperatures will not drop to less then 25 F overnight.  In addition, fungicides that prevent the fungus from growing are sprayed monthly as long as the temperature is just above freezing.

More planting and construction is going on at the nursery before we are forced to move inside because of the inclement weather.  Another relatively good weather project is the annual planting of between 1,000 and 2,000 flower bulbs of hyacinths, tulips and narcissus to our growing collection.  One fall, winter came early and we were left with 10,000 daffodils that were packed in crates until February.  If the bulbs were not planted by the first of March, they would need to be thrown away as the cold period required for growth and bloom in spring could not be achieved.

The result was a sod cutter on a grassy muddy hill where the snow melted and three of us digging trenches 6" deep to plant the bulbs in long rows of about 100 feet each.  What a miserable venture it was!  The result in early May was a spectacular show of golden yellow daffodils and white narcissus with their cheerful orange colored trumpets making all the hard work worthwhile.

Christmas trees, grave blankets, poinsettias are the norm right now before we close the last day of December until March 1st.   The slow period is just what we need to get ready for the next spring.

Tom

November 30, 2012
Next week will seem like the shortest days of the year as the sun sets earlier in the day than it does on the shortest day , the winter solstice. It’s no wonder that our traditions and many religious rituals have to do with light and some type of evergreens.

Just yesterday we cut some of the most beautiful 10 foot Canaan Fir that only differ from the Fraser Fir in that they do not have the silvery sheen to the underside of the needles. Canaan Firs have needle retention every bit as good as the Fraser as long as they are cut late in the season; that is, around Thanksgiving or later.

Other nursery work consists of the mundane task of emptying the mouse traps in the plant storage houses in order to keep the mice damage to a minimum.

A new variety of flower we just planted last week is the Anenome with its fuchsia and blue flowers appearing like miniature poppies. Another new item for next spring will be the robust Gerbera daisies that we’ll transfer to a 10 inch diameter pot that can be placed on the deck or patio for an all summer display of radiant color.

Soon it will be time to take cuttings from the new Calliope geraniums that we planted in September. These geraniums grow well in full sun or moderate shade and make gorgeous hanging baskets as they are more compact than the regular vining geraniums which require more trimming and deadheading thus, a lot more work! Enough talk about getting ready for spring.

Grave blankets, poinsettias and cut trees are the norm right now before we head into the long winter doldrums after the holidays.

Enjoy the cold winter days and they’ll seem to fly by until those hints of spring appear.

Tom

November 23, 2012
Wreaths, roping, cut trees and all the rest have arrived at the nursery so that it does look like the Christmas season has begun although the temperatures seem more like late October.

The sunny weather has made it necessary to start up the water pump to water all the trees and shrubs in storage huts which make for a real hassle as the waterlines and pump intake have to be drained again because of the approaching cold.

The grave blankets are still being manufactured with all the various customizing according to the wishes of different customers.  Once blanket that I must fabricate every year measures 6 feet wide by at least 8 feet long and weighs over 100 pounds!  After the delivery of many grave decorations the day before Thanksgiving, we will be delivering to local cemeteries two to three days every week right up until Christmas Eve.

Remember that if you’re fussy about picking out a cut tree for Christmas, this weekend is the time to do it in order to get first choice.  If you’re not going to decorate the tree now, just simply lay the tree in the back yard or tag it for later pick up or delivery.

If you’re cutting your own tree at a smaller operation that would allow you to tag a tree for later cutting, I would advise against this strategy as others that may see the beautiful tagged tree later will simply pull off the tag and cut it!

Soon, let’s hope for some snow!

Tom

November 2, 2012
For the past four nights the weather has been frosty in the mornings with the skies clear at night.

The above scenario is ideal for hardening off trees and shrubs to get ready for the long winter. Timely “to dos” include fertilizing the lawns this weekend with a winterizer fertilizer and spraying liquid fence on any tree or shrub that may be susceptible to deer damage such as the Taxus genus.

In two weeks we’ll be setting up our cut Christmas tree display of Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir,
White Pine and Scotch Pine all from southern Ohio. I like the Ohio Fraser Fir much better than those grown more commonly in North Carolina as they are so much fresher and seem to last at least a month in the house as long as the tree stand does not run out of water.

The North Carolina Fir I think are piled into stacks and then may go through a heat because of the green foliage packed so tight which then makes them susceptible for deterioration.

Our supply of firs in contrast is grown by a small family farm in Ohio that is better able to harvest trees much later in the season.

Grave blanket production has finally begun as we’ve been able to cut branches after the inclement weather from hurricane Sandy. By November 20th, we will be able to have a full selection of blankets and pillows with deliveries beginning that day for those wanting delivery or pick up by Thanksgiving.

Get out and enjoy the weather!

Tom

October 26, 2012
Now is a good time to give all your stressed out trees and shrubs some fertilizer so the nutrients will be taken up now and stored for spring use. Since the light levels and the temperatures are lower, fertilizing at this time of year will not put on a flush of growth which is the last thing plants need at this time of year when they’re beginning to go into dormancy.

Roots of plants are another exception as they grow rapidly when the above ground portions go dormant and the ground temperature is 40 F or above. This root expansion will cease when the ground begins to freeze deeply but will pick up again once the spring thaws begin.

Organic fertilizer such as plant-tone and holly-tone are fine; however, granular fertilizers work well too when applied at the correct rates. The general rule when using a granular fertilizer is to use no more than 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 ft. For example, to find out how many pounds of a particular fertilizer that would entail, simply take the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer you want to use and divide that number by 1.

Suppose you want to fertilize your landscape bed using the 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 ft and you have 12-12-12 fertilizer. Therefore, apply the following formula:

1LBN = 8.33 lbs.
.12

of 12-12-12 per 1000 ft. Since 12-12-12 is 12% nitrogen it is expressed in the equation as the decimal .12. The 1 lb. Rule would apply to not only a landscape bed but also a lawn or fertilizing a large tree underneath its drip line.

Unless your starting a new lawn though it’s usually not necessary and undesirable to feed high amounts of phosphorus to a lawn as the runoff of this element contributes to the pollution of creeks and streams as it feeds algae growth.

With the fall rains, more planting will be going on in Wolf Creek gardens especially plants with winter interest like Ilex verticillata (deciduous holly) with its bright red berries and some coral bark Japanese Maple with the brilliant unique red bark all winter.

We’re starting to close up shop now as we’re changing to the Christmas mode. Poinsettias in the greenhouse are beginning to show more and more color and soon we’ll be cutting branches for grave blankets.

Tree and shrubs will still be available as there is still plenty of time for planting.

Happy fall!

Tom

October 19, 2012
This week has been the peak of our fall colors and surprisingly, what a show it has been! Normally, drought years have more subdued tree colors, however some adequate rain beginning in early August may have put things back on track.

Another two rows of blueberries we’ve finished planting will give us a total of 600 in the field. Toro, Pink Lemonade and Bluejay are the varieties for the two new rows as they are prolific bearers and unusual in the case of the Pink Lemonade with its pink, delicious fruit.

Another new “toy” we’ve received at the nursery today is a contraption called Nursery Jaws that will be attached to our tractor loader. The apparatus is two hydraulically operated 72" forks that can gently pick up heavy balled and burlapped plants and larger container trees and shrubs. So quick and easy is its operation that the jaws will make loading customer’s vehicles much faster and safer as well as speeding up the process of unloading a truck full of heavy balled and burlapped stock.

The best part of the tool is that it will save so much strain on the back from heavy lifting in order to place the balled and burlapped plant in the tractor bucket.

Next week we will start putting the container stock to bed so that we are ready to cover the winter storage houses by November 1st. Once covered, the stock is treated with a fungicide and the overwintering houses are sprinkled liberally inside with mouse traps baited with a sunflower seed.

It’s incredible how much damage mice can cause inside a warm moist environment packed with plants!

Get out and enjoy the fall!

Tom

October 12, 2012
Being the week of Columbus Day, with its typical October weather of cool and moist, it’s now the perfect time for planting most trees, shrubs and flower bulbs.

One new tree we have in the fall is the Baby Blue Spruce that is a seed selection that grows very uniformly.

In fact, the tree attains a maximum height of 12-14’ and half as wide giving it a nice medium taper just like the perfect yet elusive cut Christmas tree.

Another attribute of the Baby Blue Spruce is the intense blue color of the medium length needles which makes it stand out in the landscape.

And finally, this spruce needs little or no trimming in order to retain its fullness as it naturally grows thick and full.

Mums are still available and most likely will be until October’s end.  At the nursery, you’ll still find a wide selection of trees and shrubs; however, in early November, we will be putting the plants “to bed” in our over-wintering storage houses but they will still be available for later fall sales.

Another job to complete this fall is the planting of two more 300 foot long rows of blueberries for our upcoming pick-you-own operation.

The varieties we will plant are Pink Lemonade, Toro and Blue Jay which are profuse bearers of delicious fruit on a vigorous rugged bush.

We’re amending the soil with lots of peat moss and some sweet peet to improve the ground’s tilth and to create an acidic soil in which blueberries just love!

I’m anxious to try a new food grade product next year that is applied by a spray to prevent an onslaught of robins, blackbirds and geese that just love blueberries as much as people!

The product does not harm the birds but supposedly is distasteful so much that they’ll stay afar.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tom

October 5, 2012
The mum Fest in Barberton and the Cider Fest in Norton were quite a success as Sunday’s prediction of rain failed to materialize. At the nursery the later mums are just showing color so that full blooms will not occur until the third week of October with color into early November.

The nursery is busy with activity in getting the plants of the rear growing area consolidated so that a final inventory can be taken and finally the rear overwintering houses can be covered.

This past week we’ve finished potting geraniums for our stock plants from which we will harvest and root thousands of cuttings starting about Christmas to then transplant in late January in order to sell the plants in May. Right now though, poinsettias are still growing as there is just a touch of color coming on the plants with the advent of short days.

All over lawn renovation is still going on but sowing tall fescue lawn type grasses should cease as the late emerging young seedlings will not be able to survive the winter.

In a recent publication by Dr .Dave Shetler of OSU extension he again emphasized the 80-90% of damage of the non-recovering lawns was not due to the drought but due to billbug damage. At this time in October reseeding can still go on but not with the tall fescue type grasses. Any seed that does not germinate this year will come up in the spring as long as a pre-emergent crabgrass preventer is not applied or one is applied such as the Greenview Crabgrass preventer and seed starter.

October is a great time to plant trees and shrubs as the weather is cool and moisture is adequate for root growth and with many on sale at this time of year, it’s a good time to buy.

Come on down to the nursery.
Tom

September 28, 2012
Rain was threatening last Saturday morning but finally the sun did come out during our fall festival. How many children seemed to arrive with their grandparents in tow! The animal show, magic man, balloon man and Pat Catans crafts were a big hit with the children while the adults seemed to favor Frankie Spetich’s polkas, the cooking demonstrations and the hayride.

The word for the month has been “mums” that still seem to be the favorite fall flower after so many years.

We’re still bringing up plants to the sales area from our back production area as well as hauling in plants to restock our depleted sales yard. One of the more interesting new items available now is a new weeping redbud called ‘Rising Sun’! In spring the stems of the tree are littered with thousands of the typical tiny magenta flowers of other redbuds followed by bright yellow leaves with the ends tipped in red to melon hues. This tree along with the new maroon-colored Ruby Falls redbud has been the hit for the year.

Later on we’ll be bringing in some nice shade trees balled and burlapped as soon as the leaves begin to fall when they can be dug.

This week we’ll be potting up geraniums to use as stock plants for our greenhouse production for flowers next spring along with peonies and other fall transplanted perennials.

Don’t forget the Mum Festival in Barberton this weekend and the Ciderfest in Norton. On Saturday, some of the “movers and shakers” of the mum fest will be on our radio program WAKR 1590 starting at 8 a.m. describing the festivities and what all goes in to planning and planting this spectacular event.

See you soon!
Tom

September 21, 2012
Tomorrow is our annual fall festival with the prediction of rain! Needless to say we’ve had to make alternate plans as to where to place the food vendors, Outback Ray’s annual show and where to place tables and chairs for sitting down and eating. The planning and promotion of this event began months ago so as they say, “the show must go on”. It’s ironic in that we’ve prayed for rain and more rain all summer and now we get our wish.

With all the cool weather I’ve noticed many of the heat stressed plants have perked up and will soon put on a flash of root growth that will last until ground temperatures fall to about 40 F or lower.

Most lawns have come roaring back with cooler wet weather although there’s a fair amount of overseeding and thatching going on.

The fall season is a cadillac time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials and the selection of “on sale” items is still decent. With much of our outside area covered by our movable roof greenhouse, it may be shopping inside if the skies open up with rain.

We’ll see you at the festival come rain or shine!

Tom

September 14, 2012
What relief from the heat of this past summer! Even though the Autumnal equinox has not arrived, there’s a hint of fall in the air with the cooler days and even cooler nights.

It’s mum time at the nursery with a blaze of color from the small 8" pots to the giant 14" size pots that are perfect for setting on the porch or on each side of the doorway. Something new this year are our hanging basket mums that are tricolor combinations of yellow, bronze and white planted in a large 12" basket. The asters are coming into their peak bloom in their “non mum” shades of blue, purple and magenta.

Our transplanting is just about finished for the year so that now our focus is on renovating the landscape beds, planting new varieties of trees and shrubs in Wolf Creek Gardens and adding to the trails of the garden.

Spider mites have been a real pain in the greenhouse as they just love the heat but the cooler weather and some acaricide sprays have taken a toll on the spider mite population.

More trips and traveling are necessary to find next spring’s new “treasures” as the internet photos just don’t do justice to the plants as compared to actually seeing them. We already have new things lined up for spring 2013 that we planned over a year ago! In coming blogs, you’ll get a hint of what’s to come.

Don’t forget our 50% sale is still on as well as our annual Fall Festival on September 22nd.

See you at the festival!

Tom
 

September 7, 2012
On Saturday, September 1st, mayhem reigned as it was the first day of our 50% off sale for garden club members. There is still a good selection of plants on sale although some of the choice evergreens sold within hours of opening the gates at 7:30 a.m.

More fresh product ranging from holly, arborvitae and western red cedars will be coming in over the course of the next two weeks so that we won’t have “bare” shelves when we sell all existing stock.

Many of you have begun lawn renovation by over seeding bare spots from drought, insects or disease. If you don’t have a thick thatch layer, a slit seeder works wonders for over seeding as it injects the seed into the ground so that it germinates well. Copley Tool Rental near Copley circle has one called a Bluebird seeder that is light and easy to handle which seems to be a favorite of landscapers. All that is needed after the operation is a starter fertilizer such as Greenview’s 10-18-10 and finally water!

As I have repeatedly said many times, a tall fescue lawn seed will root deeply and tolerate drought and wear. Please do not over seed with this seed if you have a bluegrass-rye grass lawn as tall fescue will not blend well with these grasses. The brand we sell is called Carefree mix and is a blend of different varieties of the grasses in order to achieve a thick healthy lawn.

The chrysanthemums are finally starting to show some color so that by the 15th of September. I think there will be a show. Quite a show will be in the Mum Fest in Barberton on the last weekend of September with all the mums and festivities centered around Lake Anna.

I’ll be giving my annual talk and interviews on the Mum Fest during our radio program on Saturday, September 29th beginning at 8 a.m. on 1590 AM WAKR.

Happy Fall!

Tom

August 31, 2012
Today is the last day to redeem your Dayton Dollar coupons as tomorrow they become worthless.

The good news is that our 50% off sale starts tomorrow where you’ll almost be sure to find something of interest that is on sale from the tree, shrub, rose, perennial or fruit categories. I do encourage you to arrive early on Saturday morning as our gates open at 7:30 a.m.

As the saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm” and does apply at our sale since the choice items will be swept up quickly. The owl barn will be fully stocked and will include a valuable coupon as well for fresh produce.

The rain on Monday was a welcome sight that seemed to replenish the lost moisture from the rain we had about 2 weeks before that one.

We’re looking over all the new perennial plants for next spring and trying to decide which ones to grow as the palette of plants has expanded greatly again! Annual flowers are another area of newness with the development of more colors of the Calliope geraniums that look great in a hanging basket and will tolerate a moderate amount of shade and still bloom.

I like the compact growth of the Calliope types as they don’t have to be endlessly trimmed to form a nice plant.

Our chrysanthemums are still light on opening flowers because of the summer’s relentless heat, but we do have “true -to-color” signs of the different varieties of mums that are so heavily budded.

Remember too that Monday is Labor Day and the nursery will be open until 5 p.m.

See ya soon!

August 24, 2012
NOW is the time to start on lawn renovation since the hot, dry summer is beginning to wane. The unwanted weeds and patches of grass should be killed with Roundup now and then new grass can be sown about two weeks later.

While a high phosphorus fertilizer such as 10-18-10 is excellent as a starter fertilizer as emerging grass seedlings need this essential element in liberal amounts, high phosphorus is almost never necessary for a general feeding of the lawn and is actually harmful to the environment as it runs off with rainfall creating huge blooms of algae in rivers and lakes.
The decomposing algae removes oxygen from water which is a disaster for fish and other aquatic wildlife.

At the nursery, our potting of various plants for next spring is largely done so that we’re taking inventory to get an accurate idea of what will be available especially for Labor Day weekend beginning September 1st. On Saturday, September 1st, we will open the gates at 7:30 am for our annual 50% off sale for our garden club members. The sale beginning September 4th will be open to everyone; however anyone can participate in the sale at its start by signing up for our garden club.

I think you’ll find quite the selection this year as there are a number of trees, shrubs and roses that we have never put on sale before. The signs will be marked as to what is on sale as well as having a listing on the internet. The internet listing of “on sale” material will be extensive but it is not a perpetual inventory as some stock could sell out quickly so it’s a good idea to call first to see if the items you want are still in stock.
The listing will be changed about every 5 days and especially after the Labor Day sale.

Many of you are anxious for chrysanthemums but the extreme heat has delayed the early blooming varieties. Starting the weekend of September 1st, we will have many varieties just showing color. Right now we have asters in shades of lavender, pink and blue that are a surefire “come-back-next-year flower" for fall blooms. The sure-to-grow Igloo mums are a little later and will be available in about 2 weeks.

One last reminder. Any Dayton Dollar coupons must be used by the end of this month as they expire after August 31st.

See you at the “big” sale.

Tom

August 3, 2012
Last week’s rain did green things up a bit and resulted in about a foot of water in our irrigation lake from which we depend on at least 100,000 gallons of water every day.

The new perennials keep rolling in with a shipment from Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon of a lot of new plants that we ordered in January. By potting them now for next spring sales, the plants will be well rooted and “bulked” up just by going dormant in the winter with a burst of energy starting in late March.

Walters Gardens perennials “starts” come in next week with loads more of new additions. Walters is a fantastic, well run perennial nursery in Zeeland, Michigan where we have been buying perennials for 35 years.

Time is running out for the Dayton Dollars program so be sure to use them before the expiration date at the end of this month. The clock is ticking too on our annual fall festival next month.

Timely “to do” include checking diligently for grubs in the lawn and continuing to look for them through early September as the eggs of Japanese Beetles and European chafers have gotten enough moisture now to hatch! Another new critter we may have to deal with in a few years is the Green June Beetle Grub that can be very destructive to fruit crops and lawns. This insect has been migrating north as a result of mild winters.

I think what we need is a good dose of old-fashioned cold winter weather to wipe out these migrants.

As they say, Que sera sera!

Tom

July 27, 2012
July is coming to a close with the steamy weather continuing but at least for now we received about an inch of much needed rain and relief from the heat!

The Blueberry Festival went well with the hayrides, Frankie Spetich on his accordion and the cooking demonstrations, although from observing the fest-goers, I think they favored the free food sampling! 

We just finished with taking our azalea cuttings and now are potting up ferns and various perennials for next spring’s sales.

Another big job is the weed control as it can be a constant battle as most of the nursery is irrigated which makes for a good mix of moisture and heat for extremely good weed growth!

Seiberling farms has managed to supply us with delicious sweet corn besides the drought and the other produce seems to be better then ever because of the drip irrigation on the plants.

In fact, the farm can run liquid fertilizer though the lines so that they are not dependent upon overhead irrigation or rain to dissolve a granular fertilizer.

The Owl Barn Market is full of produce including local peaches and other fruits, pies, baked goods and other cooking supplies.

We’ve changed our hours too in that we’ll be open at 9:00 am instead of 10:00 am to better serve our customers who want to get their shopping done earlier.

Got to go now but do pray for some more rain!

Tom

July 13, 2012
Tomorrow is our annual Blueberry Fest that will be centered around the Owl Barn Market including food, hayrides, music and of course luscious and juicy blueberries, blueberry pie, blueberry jams and jellies.

The music is one of local flavor featuring Frankie Spetich who is known as the Polka King of Barberton.

The hayride will include stops at the newly planted blueberry patch featuring the varieties such as Duke, Patriot, Bluecrop and Elliot all under drip irrigation during the hot and dry summer.

The Owl Barn Market is in full swing with Ohio grown sweet corn and tomatoes but we’re chopping at the bit for local Seiberling sweet corn which is on the edge of being ready.

We’ve been on a cleaning binge at the nursery preparing for the festival which has included flower planting, mulching, weeding and such.

Many of the shrub beds and displays need renovation but that job will have to wait until we get some much needed rain.


The last few years has been a building boom at the nursery in the building of the Owl Barn and new greenhouses but this year will be tame by comparison with a major renovation of the parking lot and a new roof of the equipment barn and the addition of a train garden featuring a German made train that will be a permanent feature of the landscape due to the tracks being constructed of solid brass.

Another addition to our list this year is a playground with a slide, ladder and swings that was built just in time for the Blueberry Festival!

For those of you in our garden club don’t forget to use your Dayton Dollar coupons before the expiration date.

See you at the festival!

June 29, 2012
Well the Owl Barn is finally open with produce and the first sweet corn of the season from Ohio although not from the Seiberling farms which should have corn in a couple of weeks.

I remember my dad telling me that it was like a miracle if any of the local sweet corn was ready before August!

The nursery is still rolling along with much of our March potting efforts coming to fruition with the myriad of trees and shrubs now available for sale.

The hot, dry weather has made extra irrigation necessary because of the phenomenal evaporation rate due to the relatively low humidity.

Soon we will be getting in small plants of The Knock Out Rose, more perennials and hardy ferns that are for next year’s sales.

The amount of potting that we do in summer has increased over the years that necessities the mixing of more potting media that consists of pine bark, peat moss and various fertilizer and lime.

The mix holds water for good root growth but has 20-25% pore space for draining away excess water which, fortunately for us, drains away to our irrigation lake to be used over and over again.

Be sure to check out the market while you’re at the nursery and I hope to see you at our Blueberry Festival on July 14th.

Tom

June 22, 2012
Last Sunday morning the rains fell heavy at the nursery and again on Monday night that gave thirsty plants some relief from the heat and drought.

By opening a valve at the end of a pipe that is in the creek that flows through the nursery, we were able to capture much needed rain water for our irrigation pond.

Besides annuals, the colors lighting up the nursery are multi-colored hydrangeas, especially the electric blue Endless Summer variety.  It seems like only yesterday that we unloaded the plants bare root from a Minnesota nursery in order to pot up for sale beginning in June.

Other potting is going on including our azalea production and “shift ups” of otherwise pot bound plants to larger sizes.

The tomatoes in Southern Ohio look like they are on the edge of being ready.  We plan to open the Owl Barn Market later this coming week and will be featuring sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, and a few other beginning fruits and vegetables.

We still have not planted all the flowers at the nursery yet because of the horrific heat but flower planting is scheduled for early next week.

Please watch the watering of your newly planted trees and shrubs as it is still too dry even with the recent rains.  It will take at least another 2 inches of rain to play catch up with the dry spell.  No doubt the rain will fall.  It’s just a matter of when.

Summer began on Wednesday, June 20th this week with the summer solstice so that the long warm days will really make things grow – including the weeds!

Tom

June 15, 2012
At the nursery, the sales department is starting to slow down from its hectic pace in May but the production department is going strong.

Our Igloo mums just arrived from the Aris company to be potted into 9.5” pots for fall sales and then oodles of hosta, astilbe and grasses are ready to be transplanted for fall and next spring’s sales.

One of my favorite shrubs in the nursery is Mountain laurel with its multi-colored clusters of small blossoms. 

This rhododendron-azalea native grows in groves in the Allegheny National Forest under the shade of gigantic oaks, white pines and sometimes Canadian hemlocks although I think they don’t like the invasive roots of the hemlock tree.

On a recent visit to the forest, the laurels were in massive bloom only to be dwarfed by their companions of rosebay rhododendron that will bloom at the end of June and July.  The annual flower greenhouse has some good buys as almost all the flowers, veggie plants, herbs and hanging baskets are 50% off the regular price in time for planting the flower or veggie garden if you can utilize what we have left. 

A good buy for sure are some beautiful 6.5” potted geraniums that we’ll be bringing in for Saturday.

The plants are normally $8.00 each but will sell at $4.00 each with the discount.

With another week gone by, the Owl Barn market gets ever closer to its opening date sometime late next week.

Sweet corn and tomatoes from southern Ohio will be the first produce offered with other items joining in as the season progresses.

Hope to see you in the market!

Tom

June 8, 2012
The cool early June is now giving way to more “normal” temperatures and as long as water is available, the vegetable garden should provide quite a bounty as long as you weed it!

Our newsletter for summer is out so make sure you take advantage of all of the specials.

For those of you planting your veggies late, we have beautiful 1 gallon tomatoes for only $3.00!  The plants are robust and full with many having green tomatoes.

We just finished a planting of new Igloo mum varieties as a test for Aris of Barberton that will hopefully pan out in order to be introduced as four new Igloo colors and forms.

The blueberries in the field already look like they’re going to turn color so that the birds are probably getting all excited.

Stop by the nursery this weekend as we’re well stocked and the hanging baskets are simply beautiful.

Happy Gardening!

~Tom

p.s. Place July 14h on your calendar for our 2nd annual Blueberry Fest with food, music, hayrides and more.  See you then!

June 1, 2012
The record heat during Memorial Day weekend gave way to cool and rainy for the first day of June.

With some more rain and temperatures in the mid seventies to low eighties in the day, it’ll be perfect weather for early June. 

Perennial flowers are still coming on stream out of our production area. We’re on the tail end of our annual flowers and hanging baskets although I must say that the vegetables plant selection and herbs are still adequate for most customers.

Trimming, weeding and fertilizing is all going on “out back” that will result in new crops for later this summer and for next spring too.

We’ve started growing a lot more dwarf conifers such as the Jean’s Dilly Alberta Spruce, Little Gem Nest Spruce and Donna’s Mini Mugho Pine just to name a few.

The greenhouses have already received their second coat of white wash on the roof and sides in order to block out more of the hot sun and to reflect the sun’s radiance thus keeping the houses much cooler for plants and people alike.

We finally placed the flowers in our pot-n-pot system along the road, which are Spellbound Impatiens and Sunproof Coleus of different colors.

The impatiens are deceptive as this new variety does not have to have shade as it will happily grow in the sun or shade.

The large geraniums around the Owl Barn are the Americana brand that served as our stock plants from which we took 3 batches of cuttings to make more geraniums of a smaller size.

You’ll find the shrubs well stocked too as we’ve brought a lot more out from our growing area.

I like the nursery but after all those long spring hours, its almost time for a vacation.

Tom

May 25, 2012
As the Motown song goes “How I wish it would rain”, I do hope it rains soon even if it is on Memorial Day.

At the Seiberling Farms in Norton, I spoke to Chuck Seiberling’s nephew Brad that stated if it did not rain last Monday (which it didn’t) that they would have to start irrigating the sweet corn and other crops from the Hudson Run that courses through the farm.

In a word, please be vigilant of watering your new tree, shrub, perennial and annual flowers at least until establishment. Trees and shrubs generally establish themselves over a 3-4 week period and annual maybe in about a week or ten days.

Another “watch” is to keep an eye out for chinch bugs on your lawn starting now as the little devils can destroy whole swaths of lawn before you know it. Just take an empty soup can and cut the bottom out of it and press it in the lawn and then fill the can with water. If any of the critters are present, they will float to the top and then you can apply an insecticide to kill them.

This Memorial Day is the traditional garden-planting day and we’re well stocked for the weekend but please get here early as some items are already gone and others are in short supply.

May 30th or the actual Decoration Day always conjures up memories of reading about the great Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood in 1889 when 2200 people were killed when an upstream dam at a resort called South Fork broke from heavy rain. Heavy rain now would be a welcome although not that heavy.

Tom

May 18, 2012
The weather has been just about right for planting although the nights could be a little warmer and just a little more rain would be nice.

The greenhouse is at its peak inventory right now for most items although we do have plants in production that will be ready for Memorial Day and going on into June.

As our newspaper ads have stated “our perennial production house just keeps pumping out more and more gallons of perennials”

The new facility will enable us to produce higher quality plants because of the movable roof which keeps the plants cool and at the same time can be used to create 30% shade which keeps the plant roots cooler too.

Many of the Rhododendrons are out of peak bloom now when normally they are in full bloom on May 20th.

With the early warm weather in March and all the subsequent freezes, I thought at least these freezes could destroy the flower buds on our new blueberry planting so that the plants could put on more growth without the flowers getting in the way; however, I see now that most of the flowers are turning into berries!

Today my grandmother, Myrtle Dayton, would have been 108 years old being born in Barberton in 1904.

At her last home in Barberton, I can still see my grandmother fussing over her Herbert azalea on the north side of the house and showing off her layering of the plants branches to produce new plants.

The azalea is still there on the corner of Park and 7th St. but I wish someone would treat it to alleviate it from a lacebug infestation.

As long as the azaleas are out of bloom, they should be treated now with the Bayer tree & shrub protection product.

Soon the gardens will be all planted with many gardeners in that age old contest of having the first ripe tomato.

There are several enzymes in a tomato that must come together in order to produce that delicious, fresh-picked tomato flavor instead of the flavor of a cardboard box that is hard to swallow from imported winter tomatoes!

See you in the greenhouse.

Tom

May 11, 2012
This morning it was 39 degrees at the nursery at 5:00 am which is just borderline for a frost when the air is still and able to stratify into its colder lower layers.

Our water pump starts to water at 3:30 am and runs through 4 cycles so that any frost would be washed from the plants protecting the flowers and new growth.

The greenhouse will be bursting with flowers of every description just in time for Mother’s Day although I must confess I think the perennial house is gorgeous with all its array of sundry goodies.

I just wish the Clematis vines would stop growing so much as they have already been trimmed 3 times since early April to make them stocky and full.

Outside the greenhouse the Rhododendron Nova Zembla is gorgeous with its fuchsia red flower trusses sitting on the leaves like large jewels.

I like the deciduous azaleas too with the sunny colors of yellow and orange that is sometimes mixed on the same plant!

The tea roses seem to be budding up well and so far the foliage seems to be nice and clean thanks to my organic fungus control called Bi-Carb that keeps off the black spot and white powdery mildew.

It’s almost 6:00 am now and I’ve got to get started cleaning and watering the greenhouse, loading the perennial house with plats, and unloading the huge geraniums in a 12” pot that I have on a wagon.

Hope to see you soon.

Tom

May 5, 2012
Last Sunday morning I recorded 30 F on my thermometer but I’ve heard of different areas going as low as 26F. Especially hard hit was the Lake County area as temperatures everywhere fell to 26F and froze the flowering azaleas even close to the houses!

What makes the cold temperature in Lake County so strange is the fact that Lake Erie is usually a buffer from such cold temperatures in fall and spring but somehow it did not help even one to two miles close to the lakeshore.

At the nursery, the rain gauge is filling up although I’m hoping for much more rain. The greenhouses are just loaded with plants of every color and shade in the perennial house and annual flowering house in anticipation of the good weather finally appearing.

The azalea and rhododendron are so beautiful in our shade house with splashes of color all over the nursery. After surviving the frosts the past couple of weeks the azaleas in the garden are magnificent from shades of red, purple, white, pink and lavender.

The weeds in the garden are another story. Although their not that tall now, it seems that they have survived from endless windy days and our having to prepare for frost in which both take away our opportunity to spray roundup on the little devils.

In the greenhouse it’s hard to believe the size of the flowering plants as many of them were so small when they arrived as an unrooted cutting that I had trouble handling them.

The geraniums from our stock plants are so big and bushy in the one gallon nursery containers that they look like shrubs just loaded with flowers!

It’s time for me to go as a write this blog at 6 a.m. because the greenhouse is already calling.

Tom

April 20, 2012
April 20th seems more like May 10th. I blame on that lousy, unusually warm March!

The azaleas in the garden and all over the nursery are beginning to bloom making a spectacular show. I’m hoping again for a “good” rain of at least an inch as the soil is getting quite dry. How ironic after such a wet year last year!

The perennial house opens tomorrow (Saturday) followed by the annual flower house on Wednesday. This year all of our product except flats of vegetables and flowers is our own production from our new greenhouse out back. The warm weather seemed to “push” things ahead in the greenhouses too so that we had to do some extra trimming. Some cold tolerant plants like the larger petunia that are tolerant of light to medium frosts were already taken outside but normally we don’t take them outside until May 1st!

We’re keeping up with the weeds (I think) as several sprays of round up 2-3 hours a day to keep things in check.

Soon our tea roses will be outside their protective cover but I’m afraid to bring them out just yet so I’m still anticipating some frost which could beat them up.

I’ll see you at the nursery!

Tom

April 13, 2012
No doubt the freeze on Saturday morning, April 7th did a lot of wide spread damage.  At the nursery, the low temperature was 27 degrees just before sunrise.

Our frost covers blanketed our stock that had some tender new growth.  These “breathable” covers will protect tender growth and flowers as much as 8 degrees below freezing.

Other plants were under cover of our movable roof greenhouse that we closed at night in order to trap the previous day’s heat.

Another aspect of our frost control is that we must drain our irrigation system to prevent any smaller above ground pipes on valves from breaking when the temperature falls below 30 degrees.

How well I remember April 8th of 2007 when temperatures during the night fell to 19 degrees with 35 mile per hour winds after an unusual warm up in late March and early April.

The nursery is just about set up now except for the perennial house and annual flower house that will be open at the end of April.

Tomorrow is a big day with our seminar on Clematis that is back by popular demand.

Debra Hardwick is our Clematis expert. She has more than 300 varieties and 900 plants in her garden in Delaware, Ohio.

Debra attracts a big crowd as her presentation last year attracted nearly 80 participants.

The cost of the seminar is $5.00 which includes refreshments with the talk beginning promptly at 11:00 am this Saturday.

Be sure to bring lots of questions as Debra has the answers with her years of experience with this wonderful genus of plants.

Don’t forget that today is the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, born in 1743.

While Jefferson is known for writing the Declaration of Independence, support of public education and promoting freedom of religion, he was quite the farmer and gardener as well having planted over 1000 fruit trees at his home, Monticello, and his extensive perennial flower gardens.

His hope was that America would be a land of largely self-sufficient farmers tending their crops on their own land.

How so much has changed!

Tom

April 6, 2012
So far the local orchards have escaped any devastating frosts and the temperature at which significant damage will occur is below 28F. The only downside of this scenario is that several more frosts will surely come through April and early May which may cause havoc for the orchard people yet.

At the nursery almost everything is out of winter storage with the perennial and annual houses to open in late April.

If you have not applied a pre-emergent crabgrass preventer on your lawn, do it quickly as it is starting to germinate and most of these pre-emergents will prevent the weed seeds from germinating and also kill very small seedlings of crabgrass.

The digging in Lake County is already done as many of the trees and shrubs cannot be dug with tender new growth although some will become available as soon as this tender growth hardens off.

With Easter this Sunday the greenhouse display is magnificent with blooming flowers radiating their beauty. As Jesus spoke, “Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin. Yet I tell you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.”.”

I’m looking forward to the return of the Eastern Bluebirds to our nesting boxes but I must admit that I have not had time to even look for them! Be sure to take a peek at the redbuds in Wolf Creek Gardens before they go out of bloom soon to be followed by the florida type dogwoods.

It’s a beautiful spring for sure but it’s too early! Oh well, I guess it’s human nature to always complain about something!

Tom

March 30, 2012
Well, the frost this past week did a quick number on the Magnolias and some of the fruit trees and small fruits such as blueberries. It’s still too early to assess all of the damage on fruits but even if much of the orchards were spared this time what about upcoming freezes that we normally receive in April!

It’s almost time to bring the remainder of our stock out from winter storage as we have that in our plans next week as long as the forecast is decent.

Palm Sunday weekend is here and with it the Easter flowers adorn the greenhouse. Lilies, hyacinths, tulips, daffodils and then some will be showing off their skills.

I’m hoping that the weather remains somewhat cool in order to save some flowers for May! It won’t be long for the greenhouse to open late next month.

See you soon!

Tom
 

March 23, 2012
Strange weather just continues here in northeast Ohio. According to local weather records that go back to 1886 this past winter was only the ninth warmest. The weather record that was broken was the 65 inches of precipitation we received in 2011.

At the nursery we had to accelerate our potting of bareroot trees and shrubs although I would much rather have cold to cool weather so that the plants would be able to push out some new roots before growth would break out.

Last Saturday with the “What’s New” seminar I was astonished at the turnout as when weather warms work in the garden beckons.

Tomorrow our seminar will be “Cooking With Herbs” that should acquaint many of us with this sometimes strange pallette of plants.

I remember visiting the United Kingdom in 2000 and thinking how expensive was the food in London and the food’s blandness. Then off through the Chunnel to Calais, France and then to Paris. At the time the French franc exchange rate with the dollar made France so much more affordable than the UK and the food was delicious! Sauces, creams and herbs seem to be a hallmark of French cuisine.

Maybe on Saturday, our expert will give everyone a few pointers on the “art” of herb use even if no one aspires to become an expert chef.

Plants in the greenhouse have gone “wild” with the warm, sunny weather so that we’ve had to do more trimming than normal to keep the growth in check.

See you Saturday.

Tom

March 16, 2012
Tomorrow, on St. Patrick’s Day is when we’ll reveal the “new” for 2012 in trees and shrubs as well as perennial plants.

Then, the 24th will be our last program (almost) with a Cooking with Herbs presentation by the herb expert Amanda Saunders.

Actually, Deborah Hardwick will be here on April 14th at 11 a.m. with her very popular program of All about Clematis which has been very well received in the past. Debra has about 900 clematis at last count and over 300 varieties. This then will be our final program for the season.

The nursery has been extremely busy with receiving stock, planting, transplanting and the like as well as getting ready for Easter. I must say that I really don’t like the early push of the season but as they say “Que Sera Sera”.

Hopefully it will be somewhat of a cool down just like the beautiful spring of 1973 when temperatures were in the 60's and 70's for late February and early March. Then the cool down came along with a foot of snow on March 17th. I remember vividly shoveling out our driveway and then joining the then 80 year old neighbor Joe Oser across the street. That year the weather just warmed gradually that resulted in one of the most beautiful springs ever.

Happy St. Pat’s Day and we’ll see you at the seminar on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Tom

March 9, 2012
Paul Myer’s program on Aquaponics or put simply, the production of food for the home by way of a sustainable system. Sustainable is the key word here as the Aquaponic system is able to help people without ruining the earth. It reminds me of Wangari Maathai when she addressed border guards in her home land. She stated that the soldier’s should have a gun in one hand and a tree to plant in the other hand as it made no sense to protect the country when beneath their feet the land is eroding away and so much so that the case can be made as to what they are protecting.

Our presentation tomorrow is Garden Maintenance with Michelle Riley. Michelle has many years of the landscape trade under her arm and has a good feel for garden maintenance that must be performed and in many cases on time in order to achieve a landscape or garden worth enjoying..

March 2, 2012
The sudden slip in the weather reminds us that winter is still capable of a cold blast now and then. About a week ago, I spoke to Mike at Bauman Orchards in Rittman about the problems of the mild weather and a possible too early spring.

Tomorrow, Paul Myer’s will give a program called Aquaponics that is in essence a self-sustaining system of producing food (including meat) for the home. Last week Paul was my guest during a series of interviews that I did to promote the Home & Garden Show in Akron through 1590 WAKR a.m. radio.

After the seminar at 11:00 am, Michelle Riley who has conducted seminars since the beginning of our seminar series, will be discussing the correct ways to remove a stump and what you can do with that space afterwards.


At the nursery, we’re now fully in the swing of production in perennial and annuals that will be ready starting about the first of May. Unfortunately, the longer days for us makes for a longer work day although I must admit that everyone enjoys the longer day lengths compared to the short dark days of winter.

This year, March 11 will mark our first day on daylight savings time as determined by Congress. For years the last Sunday in April was the standard for the time change.

Mark your calendars for the “What’s New” seminar on Saturday, March 17th as we’ll be showing you what’s new for 2012. The power pont program had to be cut back somewhat and doesn’t include all our new plants as trimming was necessary to avoid a long, long program.

The nursery is open now for business after the long winter hiatus.

Just remember spring is coming!

Tom

February 23, 2012
I’m looking forward to our seminar this Saturday as Carol Zeh, our most entertaining speaker will be giving her talk about Hummingbirds. There is so much to know about these wonderful creatures and Carol will be revealing some of the best ways to coax hummingbirds to your own backyard.

The nursery is about to open next week so that we been in a hurry to finish with our cleaning and stocking of goods in the store but the “real” work is in the greenhouse in transplanting geraniums, trimming, fertilizing, potting roses, potting perennials....

I’m really excited about using our new greenhouse with the movable roof for growing perennial plants as it is an entirely new method of growing higher grade perennial. I’m sure I’ll have to make some adjustments in the heating and ventilation as I’m now accustomed to the former greenhouse.

On the radio program this coming Saturday will be a whole host of guests having to do with the Home Builders Association and landscapers displaying their wares at the John S. Knight Center for the Home and Garden Show. For many years the radio program has been broadcasting from the Knight Center but this year the activity for interviewing the vendor participants will be performed in the studio.

One of my guests will be the Reverend Paul Myer’s talking about his Aquaponics system that is a system of growing plants and fish to create a sustainable method for home food production. Paul then will elaborate more on the Aquaponics system at the nursery seminar on March 3rd at 11 a.m.

I’m anxious to learn more about Aquaponics as I have not spoken to Paul since I met him at the nursery last fall.

See you at the nursery tomorrow for the Carol Zeh Hummingbird Program.

Tom

February 17, 2012
Continuing our Winter Seminar Series will be Cynthia Druckenbrod of the Cleveland Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden is well worth the visit and is only a short walking distance from the world class Cleveland Museum of Art.

As part of the garden community outreach and educational function, Cynthia will be speaking about gardening trends-new concepts in gardening incorporating newer and new plants. Cynthia is an excellent speaker in that our seminar last year we booked her talk on attracting butterflies to the garden.

Next week we’ll be potting roses, sticking another 10,000 cuttings of annual flowers and getting ready to pot up thousands of perennial plant plugs, as we call them, to grow on for sale in late April and early May.

This year will be the first time that we are trying out our new movable roof greenhouse that will give us ultimate automatic control of heating and ventilation with its advanced weather station and computerized controls. The result should be plants that are of better quality and not so stretched as some were in our former greenhouse that we are now using for heat loving annual flowers.

Don’t forget to plan next week to attend Carol Zeh’s program about Hummingbirds in the garden on February 25th at 11 a.m. Carol will be my guest tomorrow on the radio on Ready, Set, Grow between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Have all your questions ready but do save some for the February 25th seminar.

Tom

February 10, 2012
This weekend being more like February than March or April will bring some welcome relief from the seemingly abnormal warm temperatures. Any gardener knows the consequences of warm weather pushing growth this early in the season.

At the nursery, I’ve noticed how muted the warm temperatures influence is on flower bulbs in the shade of evergreens or a building. Many of the thousands of daffodils at the nursery are growing on a north slope and in some shade from evergreens with the result that they are barely out of the ground. Conversely, the daffodils with no shade and no north slope are well advanced due to the sun and warm temperatures.

For many plants, especially ericaceous ones, that is why they usually thrive with winter shade that will protect the leaves from the dehydration from the sun and slow down effects of a late winter or too early spring push due to elevated temperatures.

I’m anxious to add exponentially to our cache of spring photographs in Wolf Creek Gardens as last year’s rainy days contributed to the trees and shrubs growing as if they were on steroids! The numerous dogwoods, rhododendrons and azaleas are budded so heavily that the show this May should be spectacular; that is, unless Mother Nature pushes things along too early.

In a walk through the garden earlier in the week, I noticed annual weeds such as cress and yellow rocket growing quite nicely until I hit them with a shot of Roundup! When the weather is above freezing and no rain for at least 24 hours, Roundup can be sprayed in winter to get a head start on weeds in the garden as long as green stems of trees and shrubs and above ground crowns of perennials are avoided.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the seminar last week about ornamental trees and Michelle Riley’s instruction on attracting wildlife. Tomorrow at 11 a.m. will be our guest Chuck Gleaves from Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio giving his presentation on rock gardening. Then Michelle will present ‘Mulch, Everything You Wanted to Know’ afterwards. In essence, you’ll end up with a head full of ideas when you leave the nursery. That’s not bad for five dollars including refreshments.

See you tomorrow.

Tom

January 27, 2012
This past week completed another year of the nursery trade show in Columbus at the Convention center. The show consists of a multitude of vendors displaying their wares that include everything from trees and shrubs, tropical plants, greenhouses, wheelbarrows, lawnmowers .... I think you get the picture.

The seminars that were held are quite informative with subjects such as growing and propagation, marketing, insect and disease research and so on. The convention is an opportunity for me to investigate new products and speak with many business people and professors to find out the latest in the horticulture industry.

Our first seminar on trees and shrubs for the home landscape is just about a week away so that I’ve been brushing up on some of the trees that I don’t know enough about.

Our winter seminars are usually well attended as there’s not much gardeners can do outside in the winter beside shovel snow here in northern Ohio. Then too, where else can you get an hour and a half of an educational seminar with decent refreshments for $5.00!

I well remember our January 27th seminar in 2007 as the wind began howling and the temperature dropped quickly. That winter was uncanny in that up until that January 27th, the weather was more like early spring. The whole night the winds howled at 40 miles per hour as temperatures dropped to 4 F below zero! Hopefully we won’t see that kind of “change of seasons” this year but we’re not out of the woods yet.

See you at the seminar on the 4th of February.

Tom
 

January 20, 2012
We are in the depth of winter and the planting in the greenhouse seems to go on and on.

This coming week we’ll be receiving about 10,000 cuttings of various annual flowers from Guatemala. These cuttings will require a light misting until rooted and in addition some of the varieties need to be dipped in a weak solution of IBA (Indolebutyric Acid) and supplemental lighting with a high pressure sodium lamp that will provide about 1000 foot candles of light during these cloudy dark winter days.

Another aspect of our winter growing is weekly testing of the growing media of the plants to make sure that the pH remains in an acceptable of 5.6 to 6.2, depending on the plant. The fertilizer or salt level is monitored along with the pH to ensure that it is neither too high nor too low. Values that are too high might burn the roots and could damage or kill the plant. Values of salt readings that are too low indicate not enough fertilizer has been applied to keep growth going so that the plants are full and beautiful for sales in May.

It takes a lot of preparation and planning well ahead of the planting to develop a system to yield a good crop of flowers and make it profitable!

I remember the “old days” when we sold 8, 4 geraniums in a wooden basket for $8.00 or $9.00. The trouble began when natural gas prices literally went through the roof and many greenhouses in our area were of the energy hungry, single pane glass type. Needless to say, the geranium greenhouses went out of business which caused these inexpensive geraniums to vanish.

Today, new types of compact geraniums can be grown in packs that have 6, 3 inch pots that enables our customer to purchase plants at an affordable price and allows us to make a reasonable profit. For sure, the free market has brought a whirlwind of changes in just a few short years.

Tom

January 13, 2012
The warm weather this past week has been welcomed by almost everyone but as I stated in my January 6th blog it can create problems for plants too.

On the upside, anyone who heats with natural gas and is on a floating rate, costs are going down. In fact the gas company may even run out of storage space due to heavy production in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and because of mild winter temperatures. Well do I remember the dreaded gas meter indicator clicking round and round when the price for the gas alone was closer to 8.00 per MCF instead of the now 4.50 on the floating rate.

While the nursery will save greatly on natural gas costs this year as compared to 2 and 3 years ago, other costs have risen such as pot and flat prices for our greenhouse product. However, we did lower prices on many greenhouse products last year and did not raise others that have remained the same for years and found that our total revenue and profit was up over the last two year’s average.

I’d like to see such a strategy of some lower prices in the grocery store but I think that would be just wishful thinking.

Our seminars are getting closer and with mine being the first one on February 4th, I’m having to do a lot of research as I’m finding out that I don’t know enough about some of the trees I’ll be speaking about.

So far, winter has been “good” to us but we still have a long way to go.

~Tom

January 6, 2012
The weather is acting more like it’s late March to very early April instead of the depth of winter in January!

A little colder temperatures would be nice for our plants in cold storage as a few varieties of plants want to break out of dormancy and fungus problems increase because of the warmth and high humidity in the storage houses.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t run away to Florida all winter as I’m busy in the greenhouse, busy reviewing spring orders, busy researching new products, busy with the upcoming seminars and busy with tax work.  Winter for me is an opportunity to get a lot of behind the scenes work done.

 Be sure to review our upcoming seminars that start February 4th that are not only educational but give a welcome break from winter’s grip.

~Tom