Dahlias: Looking forward to spring - Part I

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I looked high and low for the ones you bought Arlene and can't find them. Your price must include freight. I saw some @ over $100. Ouch. I use a curved very sharp knife that I got from a sporting goods store used for fileting fish. The blade is only 3" long and I have cut myself so many times (so has my daughter - must be hereditary) that I am spooked when I use it.

I really like the blade as I can introduce the tip into some really tight places and remove small roots and tubers that need pitching thereby exposing (after a brief additional wash) some better tubers. But I really could use something more substantial for the stem and cutting roughly in half the clump. Will look over at Lee's although their stuff is primo quality so are the prices.

Hi Nanny, I have my note regarding spring tubers by my computer. :)

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I looked at Lee Valley and they only carry Felco. Very pricy also. And no clue which would be best other than for a right handed person. Will go back to Amazon and Ebay.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Good recovery there, Dan. I'm glad you waited to travel until the rain melted the ice.

Wonderful! I saved the entire clump (you know I'm hesitant to cut) so I'll see what spring brings.

"Bigger than a pencil" is more of a time saver than you can know. I just put three more pathetic sets of Preference into the main dahlia bag. They're worse than pathetic and any dahlia pro would have to wonder why I kept them. I'll feel free to ditch them when I find a replacement I like.

I have two of these on order from Gardener's Supply (one for the garage, one for the shed) and I hope they'll work well with dahlias. I order everything I like and then Jack can give me the boxes for Christmas. I get what I want and he doesn't have to shop...except for the Godiva, of course!

http://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Gardeners-Site/default/Link-Product?pid=8586317%20%20OR

Mary - you couldn't find the "Zenport" at Amazon? I did see quite a variety of prices online. We have more fish supply places around here than I can count so I may stop in and look just to see what they offer.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Zenport at Amazon... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NCH6HG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Barnel fruit secateurs but shipping is HIGH!

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Barnel-B3001S-Stainless-Steel-Fruit-Secateurs-Garden-Tool-Needle-Nose-Pruner-/290767689137

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

OH I found Zenport, just not the model you described. Are they 'bypass' pruners? That would seem better for the heavier cutting of stems. I am thinking of getting a heavier set for that and a finer one for inveigling into tight places.

I saw a sweater I loved and D said he would buy it for me for Christmas so I ordered it from Plow and Hearth. When the order was acknowledged it showed $50 in postage on a $140 order (including a cute pair of Christmas PJ's). I told them keep them so they said to just mark 'refused' and send them back. Which I did. In the meantime I blew $450 on grandson for a goalie equipment bag and a goalie helmet. Told his folks that they shouldn't count of gifts for themselves and I told D that I was forfeiting my Christmas gift also. That way I can use part of our 'common' funds to offset Bren's gift. Complicated I know, but that is the way we work it.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Case in point - the postage on the fruit secateurs.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I found these Zenports on Amazon. Zenport is supposed to be made in Switzerland but the "origin" listed was Taiwan.

ZS104 Deluxe Scissors, Garden/Craft/Horticulture, 8-Inch Long

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Maybe the blades are made in Switzerland but they're assembled in Taiwan. I don't know. They are called "deluxe scissors", not bypass pruners.

Had I seen these, I'd have added them to my order:
http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-9921-Softouch-Micro-Tip-Pruning/dp/B00004SD76/ref=pd_bxgy_lg_text_y

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Hmmm. Hadn't thought of that. I have a little pair of fiskars like that. Really nice. I take my pruners/scissors apart each fall and clean the well then reassemble.

I ordered some fiskars along with a neat sharpening tool. Can use it on my old pruners also. Ordered from Lee Valley.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I love the whole line of Fiskar tools. Their shears is lightweight - very helpful to me this year with cutting back the fields of JI's.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

And I ordered ones for the smaller hand. The bigger ones have a hand span too wide for me to get much leverage.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I have the same issue with many pruners but the packaging in stores does not allow for anyone to test it.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Plus I didn't realize that there were right and left hand pruners. Hmmm. Like a right and left hand wrench??? :)

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

And pinking shears!

Jack's middle daughter wanted pinking shears and it was in the sewing box that belonged to her late mother. This was 26 years ago. I gave them to her and she was totally unthankful and asked what she could do with them since she's left handed but her dearest, beloved, adored mother was right handed. I felt like telling her what she could do with them. There I was, believing I was being kind and giving her a memento she didn't have, and all she gave me was criticism.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

You really got the pick of the litter with your 'inherited' family. And I thought I had problems.

I read Anne Perry Victorian mysteries and there is one character in the current book who puts me in mind of your daughters in law (specially the middle one). She belongs to 'society' and is bitter, sarcastic, arrogant and really stupid.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Pirl, I inherited a very nice pair of dressmaker shears That belonged to my DH grandmother, because my MIL was left handed and couldn't use them. I still have them. They are at least 25 years old and I only use them to cut fabric, so they are still sharp. But I would have kept them even if I couldn't use them (for sentimental reasons.) I really don't understand some people.
Dan, My mom 's family is from Berea, actually Mt. Vernon, But they are all from close by. I still have a lot of relatives in the area. My daughter is attending Morehead's College of Nursing, and hopes to graduate this December. So it is a small world after all.
I must say that dividing Dahlia tubers looks a little scary even without the razor sharp knives. lol A little intimidating, well more than a little. I still haven't divided any. I am trying to work up enough nerve to start whacking on them. I am afraid I will kill them all. I guess I need to get over that and just do it.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

In the garden I can forget about my "step-daughters". My only daughter-in-law is a gem.

Nanny - I'm with you! I kept my mom's soup ladle (with a hole in the middle due to age) and treasure anything my mom had. She gave me all her crochet work and it will never leave my family.

Seems like butchers should enjoy dividing dahlias without fear.

I'm still hesitant to split that big main stalk down the center, Nanny, and splitting it in four might require extreme courage. I have been brave enough to remove all the danglers that aren't attached to the stem.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

It is supposed to be warmer tomorrow maybe I will give it a try with one that I have two of. lol

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Tomorrow I'll be digging the rest of my dahlias and may try giving most of them a whack. I should try and find the cleaver and keep my left hand behind my back.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

I hear you pirl. Definitely keep those fingers out of the way! It is 50 this morning so maybe a good day to work on things out in the garage. I also need to work on the Christmas lights on the outside before it gets cold again. There is always something to do.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I will and we do have a Dan glove to protect my hand but my collection of thrift shop knives include some deadly ones. I just hope the stalks are not like wood since I cut them back on 11/10 and 11/11 so even though they're covered with little sandwich baggies (and anchored) I'm just hoping for the best.

The list of jobs to do never seems to diminish.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I have committed to baking goodies for my favorite yarn shop for their "Twelve Days of Christmas". I love to bake cookies, breads, fudge and now have an excuse each day. I may bake and freeze some just to get a running start. Can hardly wait.

Ordered my scissors and sharpener so am looking forward to that. I will pull my old pruners apart and give them a good cleaning and sharpening for next spring. Also ordered some 'survival blankets' recommended on AtP to drape over my raised beds next spring. Supposed to raise the temps by as much as 11 degrees depending on outside temps. In March or early April I will winter sow in a bed or two and also some flats. REally interested to see if stuff like broccoli, lettuce, carrots etc will really work that early.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Sounds so wholesome, Mary. I used to bake a lot but haven't done it since my daughter started in with it.

Those survival blankets sound interesting. We used to use the red plastic when that was the "in" thing to warm up soils but we never saw any difference in using it or not using it.

Mentor, OH

Arlene. the best tool I've ever used for cutting those dried stalks is a fine tooth hacksaw. Much less danger of cutting yourself than with a knife. It'll buzz right through.

I checked your link for KVB Wholesale to see if they had added anything new since last year. I wish they sold in lesser quantities than five. I bought six or seven varieties last year and gave a lot away. The clumps I received looked good and grew extremely well. I didn't have any duds. The only problem was Nick Sr. didn't look like the real one. I laugh at the way they and a few other sellers toss around the terms "dinner plate" and "giant" with reckless abandon. Some of my "dinner plates" were more like small saucers. Babylon Bronze and Lilac Time were about 4" in diameter. They sell a ball dahlia named Cornell which they call a giant. Every description I've seen say it's about a 3" bloom. They have Zoey Rey. I remember you having that one. How big was the bloom?

After two day of temps at or above 50 degrees, our snow is 99% gone. Forecast is calling for mid-50's tomorrow with rain. I wish I could get a chance to rake the tons of leaves before the next round of snow. The yard looks terrible. At least everyone around here is in the same boat. Yard waste collection ends the first of December.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

To bad you can't just rake them up and put them in black plastic bags and store them away. they make great leaf mulch to add to the garden come spring.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I'll have to ask Jack if he has a hacksaw with a fine blade. My Amazon order got messed up so I cancelled it and added the Fiskar tool I wanted.

It's annoying to be forced to buy 5 of each. I don't use the company but always enjoy looking. Zoey Rey was not a dinner plate. It was maybe 5" but very pretty. Somewhere I read Akita was a dinner plate. Ha! It's also 5". Maybe a dinner plate for my dog! I gave Cornel to my SIL, a graduate of Cornell, so I'll have to see if he recalls the size but I'm sure it wasn't huge.

The forecast for tomorrow was for rain ending at 10 AM but they never mentioned the wind at 50 MPH. I do hope they are wrong. The mild temperatures we're due for will be wasted with the wind. Our leaves blow down the block but yours remain a problem, Dan. It's so strange that yard waste pickup should end before folks are done raking. Here they mow to mid December.

Mentor, OH

I have two fair sized piles in the garden that I chopped up and bagged with the mower. With everything being so wet, I probably won't have that option again until spring. The garden is covered with the leaves that have fallen since the big snow. I won't even bother raking those. They will get tilled in next spring.

Mary, one of my LaLunas was pretty prolific with nice looking tubers. Let's hope that they make it through storage.

I read an article on tuber storage that said some varieties are notorious for not keeping well. On the other hand, some can practically be thrown into a box in the corner and will always do well. Two years ago, I had two Hollyhill Six-in-One plants. I saw very few eyes when I divided. I cut off 26 tubers from the two plants. In the spring, all 26 sprouted. After years of growing this plant, I've concluded that it is one you can pretty much always count on. I had trouble finding homes for all of them. lol

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Tilling in the leaves is one good way to make use of them.

Since that one woman mentioned that the dahlia pro said to store them "dry, dry, dry" I've been curious so now I'll check up on that theory.

Today's digging went well and I find I'm much more courageous cutting off the dangling bottom tubers and any tubers that look doubtful, leaving the good looking ones. Bodacious had very bodacious roots! Still about 20 more to dig.

I am SO glad I took cuttings of a few dahlias. I love the back-up insurance they provide.

Mentor, OH

Our forecast has rain before 7 am, high of 57 with 30-40 mph winds gusting to 50 mph. No leaf raking tomorrow in those winds.

I ordered tubers from Pleasant Valley last spring. Nice looking tubers and almost every one did very well. I went on their website this afternoon to see if they had any I'm looking for. I was surprised to see Akita listed as an AA (over 10") bloom. Dream on! I agree with you, 5" maybe 6" tops.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Right! No raking unless the wind will blow them away from your property. Digging in that wind will be an experience for me but I just may chicken out when I open the door.

Where on earth do companies get the idea that Akita (or many others) are 10" blooms? Last year the Akitas were nicer than this year but I guess that's part of growing them - some years some are better and some aren't as good.

As I searched for storing tubers dry I came upon a site in Maine that's been very relaxing to read and the pictures are good but many are not as colorful as those (same plants) I grew this year so I don't know if it's the camera or what the problem is but it's a pleasant way to spend some time:

Don't be alarmed because it is an inn, in Maine, that grows the dahlias for their own arrangements... http://www.cedarholm.com/blog/category/camden-maine-dahlias/

They buy from: http://cart.endlesssummerflowerfarm.com/

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

tomorow is the 45th anniversery of my arrival to the USA, I came to make this country even more beautiful with my flowers. I am glad I found the DG, so I can share my pride of being a part of the big Garden club. I planted my pansies and they are red white and blue. Thanks to all of you.. Etelka

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

We are all so glad you came here, Etelka!

Mentor, OH

Congrats on the anniversary tomorrow, Etelka. We're glad to have you!

Arlene, my uncle digs his tubers and stores them dry ... very dry. I think I mentioned before that he sets them on tables in the basement. They look extremely dry and dirty. He said his neighbor stores hers the same way but occasionally wraps them in newspapers. I saw his this spring and didn't want to hurt his feelings. But I saw no way they would possibly grow and bloom. Wrong! He said every one of them bloomed. He had many clumps that were at least a foot across. I would have at least split the clump into sections if for no other reason than to avoid having to dig such a wide and deep hole. That's a lot of extra work. As we've said before, humidity plays a big role in all this. I watched a youtube video last night where they just wrapped the clumps in newspapers.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

We are so happy to have you here Kiseta. Both in the US and as a part of our little dahlia group.

I have seen dahlias stored in boxes with just newspaper between, not wrapped even. Works for some. As we have noted it is Location Location Location.

I give up. I just wrote two paragraphs and twice somehow erased them. Pooh. Looked at both url's Arlene. Beautiful. Yet another order placed, this time with Corralitos.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

As I mentioned before, I am living proof that Dahlias will flourish, no matter how you ignore much.you ignore them once they are dug. I have dug them, knocked most of the dirt and stored them in my garage(which is mostly unheated, except on the coldest of winter nights. The temp stays around 45 without heat, most of the time. )
I do place the tubers in a box and keep them in the dark by either covering the box or putting them in a cabinet. So maybe it is the consistent temps and humidity (or lack of moisture) that keeps them from having any issues. I don't know. Cannas and and EEs the same way, only a few of the very small EEs dried up. Like you said it could be the location. My mom said I should store them in the basement, but I am afraid they might draw too much dampness and it might cause them to mold. You know as the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it"

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Dan - Thank you for the help. I used to store them dry (didn't do more than just rinse them), put them in open plastic bags on the cool basement floor, not realizing they wanted it even cooler, yet they survived and bloomed. I was trying to find a dahlia nursery that stored them like that but I always get distracted by the catalogs.

This time I didn't even rinse them, mostly due to the cold and the rush of time. I imagine the dirt will fall off as I check them. If it doesn't work out I'll face buying new ones.

My neighbor stores them in a box in a cabinet in her unheated garage, spraying them monthly, and they do very well.

The key is probably humidity, location and condition of the tubers when they were dug.

Mary - when your typing disappears hit CTRL Z immediately and it should restore all you wrote.

Nanny - I'm with you!!!!! The reason I don't like the basement is the steps and the weight of the bags (and my age). So far there are two bags but there will likely be two more and they are heavy and awkward - dead weight. I have no idea how I'll start them growing unless I give up the porch (unheated but with doors to the two bedrooms and another door to the outside) and all the bay windows! Sounds too messy to me.

How do you start them growing in spring, Nanny, or do you just plant them?

Raining and 61 now but the forecast, even on radio, says the rain will end by 12 or 1 PM and we'll have sun for this afternoon. I'll put on a pot of "leftover" soup before I go out to resume digging.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

I just plant them as soon as weather permits and they always grow. Although I might get blooms sooner if I potted them and gave them a jumpstart. But it has always worked for me.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thank you, Nanny!

Do you plant in May or June? The advice many suppliers give is to plant them when tomatoes are planted so that would be mid to late May here. I've been planting in June but probably will try for May in 2015.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

If I didn't start mine inside I could plant the tubers out easily by May 15. Late frost wouldn't hurt them buried in the soil and they would still be growing and preparing to emerge from the ground. I suspect they would bloom around the same time as the prestarted ones and without the misery of babysitting plants for two months inside, then the in and out of hardening them off.

I may move the bags to the garage as the basement is holding at 55-60 and that is too warm. I will have to do some rearranging to get them in a spot that runs 45-50. But might be worth it as they keep trying to grow in the crawl space, dark or no dark. Even the Iris sent up a stem though with no light it was icky pale and didn't form a bud. It is a rebloomer.

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