Dahlias: Looking forward to spring - Part I

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

We came from here:

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1378548/#post_9975625

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Though I'm trying hard not to look and not to order, I did see a few different ones on River's Dahlias that I like.

I think their "Zoro" is 'Zorro' to the rest of us.

Then there's French Doll, Diva and Grande Finale at Lynch Creek Dahlias.

Only one (so far) at Swan Island, Nadine Jessie.

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

That Pink Giraffe is gorgeous and so different. Who sells that? I think you had said you were disappointed in another Giraffe you had; that it didn't look like the vendor's pictures??

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

River's Dahlias. All photos shown (except Pink Giraffe) are River's photos.

You're right. The Giraffe I bought through a vendor I won't use again (sells pot tubers - you can only buy three of a kind) was a beautiful orange but not the striped yellow-orange shown on the stock photo.

It is a risk but since I already told River's how pleased I was that the actual dahlias are the same as their photos, I'm willing to risk it...except for the fact I just spotted it's currently unavailable!

Look at the second comment here:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/dahlia/msg021312188524.html?9

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Interesting comments.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I thought it was a great performer (Giraffe) so I didn't understand why the one person said something about it being difficult to grow. I just wish it had been the correct color but I do love the orange. I'd call it electric orange. It's brighter than a red traffic light.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Pirl, pls tell me how to remove my son's picture, he is such a private person, I think it would be better to remove it, since he is still active. Thanks. It worked with the text, but not the photo. Etelka

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I think you'd have to use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the page and ask Terry to remove it. Good luck!

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow Dan, that must be so much work to dig the dahlias in the snow! I ended up cutting through a couple of my tubers because I didn't dig deep enough. I think next year I might plant them a little shallower so it will be easier to dig them in the fall without damage. The one I pictured was so big, I didn't have a bag large enough for it!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

There are various theories on the depth of planting, Jeff. They would be easier to dig but during the season they wouldn't get enough water and their stems would be weaker. You can try planting some each way and see what you prefer.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I use a garden fork. I go all around loosening the soil and lift gently to assure it is free of soil before lifting. I still end up breaking some tubers.

Mentor, OH

With the ground being fairly warm the snow has settled a good bit. I only had to dig through a few inches in many places. It was easy digging with the ground not being frozen yet. The tubers cleaned up really well. I just came in from digging another couple dozen. The snow this morning is more like a misty rain. Thank God for Gore-tex. Still got a little wet while washing the tubers. The temp is supposed to hit mid-teens tonight. So my digging is finished. I'll bag the ones I have divided, divide the ones that are drying and bring in the new ones to dry. Much easier to work in phases than to dig, dry and divide all at once. Time for a hot shower.

I was amazed that some of the biggest and most prolific plants had the smallest size tubers and least quantity. My biggest KFL and best bloomer this year only had a mother tuber about the size of a tennis ball and two small new tubers. You just never know. That's why the experts say size doesn't matter when planting tubers.

I only dug a few of my "mistake" tubers and I have been vindicated of mis-labeling. The wrong names are still clearly visible on the tubers. I forgive myself. lol

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Uh oh! I'll be the last one digging once it warms up (ha, ha) to 45 on Thursday.

Glad you got yours done, Dan. I guess I should be in the garage checking the bags but it's nasty out and I'm feeling lazy after a very busy day inside the house yesterday. I hope your pot of chili is still going! I agree that it's far easier to work in stages than to try and tackle everything at once.

The tuber size is always surprising. Dried out pot tubers (like the one I sent to Mary) look so hopeless but they grow even though the tubers are skinny. Size doesn't matter when it's dahlias, but it does matter for lilies.

Hurray! I'm so glad you still found the names!

Now I have to look up Gore-Tex.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Thanks Arlene, Terry took care of the problem, she is nice, I met her at a Ga. swap place. Thanks again. Etelka

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I'm so very happy the photo was deleted for you!

Mentor, OH

I'm about two-thirds finished. I have about two dozen more to dry, divide and bag. I'll be glad when this is over. Then the worrying starts as to whether they'll make it until spring. Some of the ones I divided seem a little spongy. They didn't seem to dry like the others. I happened to remember that they all were planted in the same area, in two beds along the front walk. That area gets some run-off when it rains hard. I hope they will eventually dry. Fortunately, there were only about four plants like this. But Zorro and one of my LaLunas were two of them.

The chili is gone but has been replaced by ham and bean soup.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

The soup sounds good. At this time of year most food sounds good.

It's always that mystery of which ones will be survivors and which ones will go spongy. It's too raw for me to sit on the garage floor checking the dahlias. I hope we get the warmer weekend weather so I can finish digging. Of course Sunday through Monday will have 55 to 60 temperatures with rain. So exciting. I'll have to wear my stylish black trash bag again.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Arlene, you continue to crack me up. Garbage indeed !! And Gore-Tex is the best stuff. Gloves, boots, etc. 35F here and light rain this morning

I made a jambalaya and decided not to use File' again. Some cornstarch will thicken it up just fine and not turn slimy and icky. I couldn't eat it but Damien said it tasted good. I am going to try skewers of salmon with honey and Dijon next. I ate a Big Mac today. Sort of hard to swallow but with sips of diet soda I got it all down. Could even taste it a bit so I have some hope that by Thanksgiving I will at least be able to taste some of the good stuff I will be cooking. My daughter-in-law also. Ohhhhh for a nice glass of wine.....been months...

Mentor, OH

Mary, a guy used to make jambalaya (or was it gumbo?) right in our plant. He didn't use any sea food, just sausage and chicken. He brought me a big bowl and I asked if it was hot. He told me, "No, it's pretty mild". YOW!! After washing it down with about a dozen glasses of water, I decided if this is mild I don't ever want to try the hot.

I used to like watching the old cajan guy, Justin Wilson, who had the cooking show on t.v. I'm not sure he could cook anything without using Louisiana hot sauce. Great show. He spent more time telling jokes than he did cooking.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I also used sausage and chicken and it was moderately hot. And I do NOT do hot normally. I know the sausage contributed some and the Tony's some more. I can control both of those. And the rice does soak up some of the hot also. Asking anyone else if something is hot is kind of useless. As you found what they consider mild or hot is purely subject to individual taste. Or so I found.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Hot is subjective. What's hot to me is sissy food to those who love the heat.

As a new bride, 52+ years ago, I made macaroni salad but wanted those pretty red dots on top like the deli had. I searched through the spices my mom gave me but nothing was red so I settled on...cayenne pepper. It looked so nice that I mixed it in and added more. A bachelor from the office came for dinner. It's hard to describe his reaction but I can visualize it to this day as he ran for the kitchen faucet and put his mouth under it. Similar to Dan's reaction to the jambalaya.

It was another 13 years before he took the leap and got married to a sweet girl who never made macaroni salad.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

that is flat hysterical.... Uh, paprika didn't occur to you I guess.... God that is funny.

I did the same thing with dill on a shrimp dish. We had company over, a single fellow. Oh he ooooh and ahhhh'd about how good it was but yech. So much dill. He was just a very very thoughtful young man. HE still isn't married and is about 50

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

My mom's paprika was an odd shade of brown - must have been aged.

I've done it with dill but it's because I love it, Jack doesn't. So now he just doesn't get the thrill of dill on fish or potato salad.

Our bachelor buddy did marry but his wife longed to return to her birthplace, Japan. Well, that's the story we got. Maybe she really found cayenne pepper and loved it. He's been alone since she left and probably is sorely lacking any spice in his food. Poor guy!

Mentor, OH

Hold on there! I have another bloom. Arlene, this is from the Kidd's Climax bud you suggested I cut and bring inside. Thanks! I didn't think it would open. Not a great bloom but I can appreciate it when I look outside and see snow and know the forecast is calling for a high of 23 degrees tomorrow and possibly well over a foot of snow by Wednesday night. This will officially be my last bloom of the year. lol

I have taken a few peeks at the on-line dahlia catalogs. I won't get too carried away until I see how my tubers make it this winter. I hope Clack's and Parks have their catalogs posted soon. I will take a look at River's.

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Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Whew! Why on earth I forgot to be checking the Dahlia forum I will never know. But I'm caught up now.

I haven't dug anything yet, because my stems only started to blacken two days ago. One more night of freezing and then back to war mish and wet. I'm thinking of putting a tarp over the whole dahlia bed.

Since I don't have a crawl space bigger than a ten year old child, and my garage freezes, I'm thinking my best bet might be the non-bathroom here in the house. It is totally unfinished, and I don't think heat goes there yet either. Plus I can leave the window open perhaps, although that would increase the humidity (currently at 100% outside).

Before my head explodes with my garden stuff I'm going to go up to Portland on the train and refinish doors for my stepdaughter. That'll make me long for sloppy, clayey mud!

Off to look for a thermometer for checking the non-bathroom.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

That's great, Dan. I always bring in the buds and find most do open. This time, the one bud I rescued from Penhill Dark Watermelon (would have been just the second bloom of the entire year) seems doomed, but I did get the first bloom, which was also the only bloom, indoors for five days until it died.

I love River's Dahlias. http://www.riversdahlias.com/index_files/RiversDahliasDahliaList.htm

The cold weather is here and the only possible day for digging is Thursday. Other jobs will just have to wait for a lucky warm day...May?

Turtles - you can cover the field with a tarp. I just read about it recently. Do you have many to lift? The unfinished bathroom sounds good. Let us know what course you'll take. It's good to have you with us.

My last remaining dahlias indoors are all Giraffe. I do love that electric orange and one person has already come over asking for it! Not bad for 11/18.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I may have to revisit Rivers. They do indeed have gorgeous selections. Welcome back Turtles.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Thank you, Arlene and Mary.

No, I have very few to lift. Thank goodness! I have always let them overwinter before, but now the clumps are huge and I'm afraid they might start to die out. So here goes nothing!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Happy digging. I hope you have nice weather to get the job done.

Mentor, OH

Arlene, there's some really wicked global warming going on in western New York. I'm glad you're on the other side of the state. Can you imagine digging your tubers through four or five feet of snow? lol

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

No, I can't. I'd sooner order them again than dig through feet of snow.

Wish Al Gore could be in Buffalo tonight to help those people dig out of 5' of global warming and I'm sure he wishes he could be there as well. Ha, ha, ha.

Tomorrow will be the coldest morning yet so I'll do my best to hibernate.

Mentor, OH

We're in the teens tonight. Forecast is showing high 40's for Saturday and low to mid 50's for Sunday and Monday with rain. If the winds today would have been from the northwest instead of west we would have been dumped on with lake effect snow. It really looks funny outside with bushels of leaves laying on top of the snow.

I'm a little concerned about the fact that some of my tubers feel spongy. It's mostly the ones I dug first. I dried them a day before and a day after dividing. Some seem to have firmed back up. Hopefully I won't lose as many as last year. I never had any problems before the last couple years. I hope to finish the dividing tomorrow.

Turtles, for years I have stored my tubers in the attic under a roof vent. I doubt the temp is ever much below 55-60 degrees and they have been fine. Last year was the first time I lost any. That was because I moved them by an open vent in the corner of the roof and some may have frozen and rotted. I also think they may not have be dry enough when first stored.

Mentor, OH

Al couldn't find Buffalo on a map. Nor would he want to. From what I understand, the weather in California is a little nicer this time of year than it is in Buffalo.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

That's reassuring to hear Dan. Thanks.

Sigh. It's either clear but cold, or warmish but rainy. It makes sense, but apparently Nature didn't consult humans when she designed the system.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Our low for last night was 28 and it will be 32 tonight. No snow yet. We directed it to Buffalo and with the snow they'll get tonight the forecasters say they'll be at 100". No digging dahlias up there right now! Very sunny now but the high will only be 34, not that I intend to go out and check it for myself.

How did the leaves end up on top of the snow, Dan? Was it the wind?

Spongy tubers aren't good. Black and spongy are really bad. I had to soak all three plants that Preference divided (easily) into, since they developed some kind of mold. They went in a bowl with bleach and water and now have dried overnight. I'll wait another day or two before I add them to the big bag (filled with individual bags). I may try the stairs to the (unfinished) attic for a month or two since they'd be easier to check there. Once I have faith that they're all good I can bring them downstairs to go under lights in March.

Al probably settled in California to avoid Buffalo people from clouting him with snowballs!

Good luck with the tuber storage, Turtles.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Oh I wish Damien could read all these comments about Al and global warming. It would do his heart good. He was so vitriolic when it all began. And now he feels vindicated.

I had to bleach two of my bags and it seems to have worked well. And two of the tubers were really covered with mossy fungus. We will see. I will recheck the dahlias in about two weeks. I figure every three weeks is often enough given the lack of loss up to this point.

I do hope you tubers will be okay Dan. Mine looked a little strange (some of them), sort of translucent like maybe they had frozen but they recovered and are okay now. A few shriveled but they were pretty skinning ones to begin with.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

We all go through this tuber storage angst every year! Let the newer people rest easy knowing they are not alone with any anxiety they may suffer.

Mary - my three Preference "clumps" (hardly a clump in my experience) just had minor fuzzy spots at the center. It's gone now and drying. I'll take photos later to see if anyone thinks there's any chance for survival.

Speaking of drying...the woman who stopped over twice mentioned the local garden club had a dahlia "pro" saying the clue to saving them was to save them "dry, dry, dry". My impression was they needed some dampness in the bag and that's why we spritz them every few weeks, if needed. I'll check it out online. I wonder if the thought was to dry them well but store them with a tiny amount of dampness to the medium. Any ideas?

I think maybe these Akita tubers could use some Home Depot replacements! LOL

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Mentor, OH

We had the heavy snow before half of the leaves were off the trees. Then the highs winds came. It will be a mess trying to rake the yard clean if this snow ever melts.


I haven't heard much from ol' Al lately. He's probably holed up in that energy-saving 25 room house with the eight or nine bathrooms and the curly light bulbs in California. As I've mentioned before, our local t.v. weather people refer to it as "gullible" warming. It's fairly easy to understand. If the temps are above normal, that's GW. If the temps are below normal, that's GW. If precipitation is above normal, yes, that's GW. Precip below normal, guess what??? That's GW, too!!! So that settles it. And if you refuse to believe it, Santa's reindeer will fertilize the roof of your house.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Okay, now I understand. We still have many trees with leaves so if the snow had hit us we'd have had the same thing happen.

Only 25 rooms? Where do they find the space to store the dahlias?

I agree. Every weather experience is global warming (according to Al) and we're all to blame...even for the same thing happening on other planets. We are a very powerful source!

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

The peat moss I used to store my tubers was slightly moist coming out of the bale. If a bag showed condensation I shook it up a lot to redistribute. The condensation went away. And the shriveledee ones looked better.

I cut and pasted your comments on GW for the enjoyment and edification of my husband.

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