Weekly Blog entries
by Tom Dayton
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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 40ºF 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 (28ºF) 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.
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.
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
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.
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
29º 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 25º 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
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.
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
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
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!
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
Get out and enjoy the weather!
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
Roots of plants are another exception as they grow rapidly when the above
ground portions go dormant and the ground temperature is 40º 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 ft². 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 ft² and you have 12-12-12 fertilizer. Therefore, apply the
1LBN = 8.33 lbs.
of 12-12-12 per 1000 ft². 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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
The product does not
harm the birds but supposedly is distasteful so much that they’ll stay afar.
I’ll keep you posted.
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.
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
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
See you soon!
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 40º 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!
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
See you at the festival!
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
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
See ya soon!
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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!
newsletter for summer is out so make sure you take advantage of all of the
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Soon the gardens will be
all planted with many gardeners in that age old contest of having the first
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
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
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.
May 5, 2012
Last Sunday morning I recorded 30º F on my thermometer but
I’ve heard of different areas going as low as 26ºF. Especially hard hit was
the Lake County area as temperatures everywhere fell to 26ºF 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.
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
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!
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
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!
April 6, 2012
So far the local orchards have escaped any devastating frosts
and the temperature at which significant damage will occur is below 28ºF.
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
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!
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
See you soon!
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.
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
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
Happy St. Pat’s Day and we’ll see you at the seminar on Saturday at 11 a.m.
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..
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
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 4º 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.
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, 4½ 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.
January 13, 2012
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.
January 6, 2012
The weather is acting
more like it’s late March to very early April instead of the depth of winter
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.