Dahlias: Looking forward to spring - Part I

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

We both watched the great parade this morning but Jack got to see all of it while I watched it in bits and pieces. I particularly enjoyed seeing some snow. It made Santa seem so perfectly timed.

I did not enjoy the rain outside so I gave up after two hours but I did get done cutting back the Louisiana irises. I feel good about it.

While I do believe in supporting the small growers I dislike the feeling of paying more for shipping 4 tubers than for 20 tubers at Swan Island.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Yes there is that. I am only getting four and am paying 6.50 postage. To be honest I don't see that he can make any money. $2 a tuber and all the labor to dig, store, wrap and mail? Seems like he should have a minimum order size to make it pay.

Port Orchard, WA

I'm new here so I'll offer a positive post to start. As you are looking forward to spring, follow this link to see what one gardener in Tacoma, Washington does in his neighborhood yard.

http://sinatrafamily.com/forum/showthread.php/43160-A-Yard-in-Tacoma-Washington

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Mary - my 4 from Lowe cost $8.00 to ship. I wouldn't actually mind if the cost of the tubers were realistic but hope people wouldn't make their money by overcharging on the postage.

My computer was down last night so it may happen again. If I disappear it simply means the computer is misbehaving again.

Skalan - I believe those posting are not supposed to promote their business on this site unless you take out an ad.

Port Orchard, WA

This plant showed up in my field this summer. I didn't order anything like it and don't know where it came from. Does it look familiar to anyone? Your guesses could help me look at the databases to narrow down my research. I'd like to plant more but would also like to know the name. Thanks for your suggestions.

Thumbnail by skalan
(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

No idea. I thought of Uncle Harry but my photos are all missing in action so I can't even post a shot so you could compare.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

The pink extends to the inner petals on Uncle Harry:
https://allthingsplants.com/plants/view/662552/Dahlia-Dahlia-Uncle-Harry/

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

I found 2 pictures two different places of Uncle Harry, you be the judge.

Thumbnail by kiseta Thumbnail by kiseta
Mentor, OH

I also cast my vote for Uncle Harry. These photos are from a few years ago. I haven't grown it lately.

Thumbnail by psudan Thumbnail by psudan Thumbnail by psudan Thumbnail by psudan
Mentor, OH

When I stored my tubers this past week I had some that seemed a little soft and wrinkly. I couldn't resist the urge to check them ... already. It's apparently going to be a long, stressful winter. lol I check all eight boxes today and pulled out a couple dozen I didn't like the looks of. They were all small, skinny necked ones that I had no business trying to save anyway. The rest have firmed up and look okay. But, it's only been a week! Relax! Don't worry! Think positive thoughts! Try decaf! lol

Yesterday, I also couldn't resist the urge to dig the Elma Elizabeth I hadn't intended to bother with. It was one of the few I hadn't dug in the front beds. The tubers felt very firm. I thought they were frozen. I hosed off the clump and cut off three tubers. I let them dry overnight. This morning the tubers were still as hard as a rock. I think I could almost drive a nail with them. At least they aren't soft. So I don't know if this is a good thing or bad thing. Maybe the extra week in the cold ground firmed them up.

Port Orchard, WA

I placed an order with Swan Island last spring so I decided to browse back through the 2014 catalog to see if my mystery dahlia showed up. I found several close matches and one that looks right on (Magically Dun) only thing I can think of is that they mistakenly sent it in place of something else. I have another new one I marked as 8X but the flowers did not match what I thought I ordered. I wish I could feel more certain about it.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Dan - it's those tubers we know we shouldn't even keep that annoy me about myself. It's so much less grief to buy than to try and save the almost impossible ones. Yes, do try decaf!

Hurray for EE! It's good that they're hard and not a soft mess but you'd never have tried to keep anything nasty. I'll find out today how the 20 I have left to dig survived our weather and two weeks of frost...provided I can get through the earth. I'll wait until it warms up a bit. We're due to get into the mid 50's today. Yesterday I just went out for mere seconds to put a little plastic label in the earth by a JI and had a very hard time getting it in the ground.

Alan - send them your photos and ask them. They are such nice people and should reply. It could be Magically Dun. You can ask them specifically if they grew that one and then you could feel better about having a possible name.
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/138954/

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Dan, you are a caution. But I know what you mean. You cannot invest that much into something and then be expected to lay about nonchalantly til spring. I am down to only checking once every three weeks. But I do need to also go down and lightly water three pots of iris, peonies, and lilies. Same for pots in garage. So I get to garden all winter. lol

I had a long dream about Hawaii last night. Surely it is meant that I will go in the spring. Oh I do hope so.

Our snow finally came and will stay this time. Not a lot. Maybe an inch or so but all is white and lovely. We are decorating for Christmas early as D is having surgery on the 8th and will be chair bound for three weeks. Ice on/Ice off every 40 minutes for forever it seems. His foot.

Port Orchard, WA

Dan you and I must think alike. I sent the photo to SI and asked them to take a look. I also gave them my previous order# and customer# so they could check my 2014 order.

Just out of curiosity, have any of you folks ever been to Swan Island in Oregon? I've been a couple of times. Very impressive. Also, is there a large grower like Swan on the east coast that people flock to?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Once again I'm last on the list to check the stored dahlias and last (I guess) to be out there today at a balmy 55 but with horrid winds, digging. I'm doing better and can cut off useless tubers without pain now.

Hawaii is as beautiful as you think it is, Mary. We avoided all big cities on purpose and had a great three weeks.

Good luck to Damien with his foot. I once wanted to have bunions removed until the doctor said I'd have to be off my feet for three entire months. After month one I think I would like to eat but there's no one interested in cooking!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Alan - I suggested sending the photo to SI. I hope they can help you.

I've never been to Oregon at all. No place on the east coast, that I know of, for dahlia growers.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Yup. Been to Swan Island but it was June 1st so no flowers. Just fields of mud.

I have been to Oahu (twice), Maui (half a dozen times) and Kauii(once). I seen all I want to see so we go to a condo set up on Sugar Beach on Maui and I just read, veg, knit and avoid the sun except for short walks. My idea of heaven.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Our neighbor's parents went every year for 17 years, to a condo at Turtle Bay, Oahu, for 3 full months and loved it. Once the husband hit his 90's he no longer wanted the long flight. We did stay at the old Turtle Bay Hotel while they were at their condo and surprised them. That was great fun!

I treat Cape Cod the same as you treat Maui!

Port Orchard, WA

Oops, it was PIRL who suggested I send the Pic to Swan I. Sorry about the mixup. I'm sure Dan would have suggested it. He was probably busy checking his tubers instead of watching the forum traffic.

Alan

Mentor, OH

I've been gone all day so I haven't checked the tubers again ... yet. After last years losses I'm a little tense but hope I can settle down soon. I don't even know why I worry about them so much. Even after the losses I still gave away dozens and tilled another small section so I could plant the rest rather than throw them away. Several people that I normally give tubers to have apparently decided dahlias are waaaay to much trouble to grow. I guess it takes away too much soap opera watching time. lol

It was still 61 degrees in Cleveland at 6:00 pm. It won't stay there much longer. Forecast shows highs in the mid-30's most of the next week.

Best wishes to Damien. Three weeks of sitting would drive me crazy. I'm just not programmed to sit. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I think about my uncle who broke his hip and had to lay on his back for four or five months and it encourages me to wear my safety belt when hunting from a treestand. I, nor anyone else, should have to be reminded.

The stitches in my hand come out tomorrow. Now, where's that steel mesh glove I've been waiting for? The scissors that I ordered the same day will be worn out before the glove gets here.

Franklin, OH(Zone 6a)

Dan! My hand is up here! I'll take any throw always!! I'll pay postage, of course!

I can't order any new until I get finished with the holidays....sigh....

Mentor, OH

Joyce, remind me next March-April. Hopefully, storage will be better this year. Some are already "spoken for", but I usually have extras.

Franklin, OH(Zone 6a)

Deal!! 😄

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Pretty quiet around here.

Arlene, thanks for the tip on how to retrieve erased messages (cntrl Z). I have used it several times. I don't know if it works on all types of applications but it surely works here.

Mentor, OH

One advantage of having clumps I didn't want to save is being able to experiment with different storage methods and not worrying about ruining a few tubers. I have wrapped a few in saran wrap, stored a few in perlite, and some in peat moss. I am also trying the mixture (potting soil/peat moss/perlite) I used a few years ago. I bought a bag of potting soil at the dollar store and spread some of it out on newspapers to make sure it was completely dry. I've read that some potting soil has fertilizer added which can cause the tubers to start growing too early. I paid the grand sum of $1.00 for the bag. So I can almost guarantee nothing has been added except for a few sticks and rocks. I wish I had saved a few more tubers to get a larger test sample size. But maybe this will tell me something about the best way to store in this area.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Do you have a control group. The same tuber group(dug, dried, cut up etc) all the same time and method) stored in each method. Other wise any differences may be attributable to the difference in tuber condition

Mentor, OH

My control group is limited. I dug a few plants that I was able to get five or six tubers from. A couple from each plant go into each storage method. Not very scientific and I wish I had dug a few more to use. I noticed the top of the ground was slightly frozen this morning. First time I've noticed that this year. I'll check tomorrow to see if there's any possibility of digging a few more that haven't frozen yet.

I know that many dahlia operations are huge. I guess I sometimes can't comprehend how huge. Yesterday, I read that Swan Island stores several hundred thousand tubers each year. They just store in crates lined with newspaper in a root cellar. That figure makes my back hurt just thinking about it. I wonder how many people they employ.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Wow that's a lot of tubers! It kind of boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Mentor, OH

Very mind boggling. On average, I usually get five or six tubers from each plant. Many of those don't eye up. Swan Island probably gets more. But just using six tubers as a base and assuming several hundred thousand tubers means at least 300,000, that's around 50,000 plants. I have no idea what kind of climate they have. But I can almost guarantee they can't wait for a frost before digging unless they have very mild winters.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I agree about the (almost) impossibility of waiting for frosts at Swan Island, Dan. I would like to know the temperature in their holding rooms.

Yesterday I spent 7 hours digging the rest of the dahlias and today spent time taking tubers off plants I don't intend to keep, just as practice. It has to be easier to do on Nov. 2nd than Dec. 2nd. I kept feeling I'd stab myself. Now I have no choice but to wait and see if they eye up or not.

My computer is back, all photos restored, and features I hated have been removed. I hate admitting how bugged I was at the lack of the computer but I did sleep 12.5 hours last night!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I won't say that Swan Island does their digging and storing with little effort, but they cannot possibly agonize over each tuber the way we do. At risk of being indelicate, in the pictures I have seen of Swan Island and The Lily Garden, the labor force is distinctly of the Latin descent. I hope they are all nicely legal and that they pay them a good wage. I believe TLG mentioned that they had the same crew for years so they must be pretty happy. And digging, processing and storing lilies is no where as labor intensive as dahlias (one would think, at least this one would think).

I also wonder at the temp. I wonder if it is a real root cellar or if it is a huge temp/humidity controlled warehouse.

Mentor, OH

The poster on another garden forum says SI uses no storage medium and they store in what he calls a "dedicated potato root cellar" where the temp and humidity levels are ideal. He also said their success rate was "pretty good." Pretty good would probably be okay for us. But as a business I'm not sure "pretty good" sounds okay. But then again, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of tubers. And they seem to know what they're doing. lol

It's mid-30's this morning and the wind feels like it's blowing 90 mph. I cleaned out the gutters for the third time this fall. Have I mentioned that I don't like the neighbors big leafy oak trees? lol My hands were like blocks of ice handling those wet leaves. I also dug four more dahlia clumps that I plan to use for my storage experiment. I'm done. That's it. No more digging.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I agree with you, Mary, about SI's lack of angst over every tuber. They probably have a dedicated and loyal staff who know what to look for - we can't ask for more than that. Lilies are SO much easier to dig and replant than dahlias but we lucky dahlia lovers get to enjoy our blooms for months, not two to three weeks. In 2014 I had blooms for six months. When lilies can do that I'll switch.

Dan - I'm sure SI is expert at how to store dahlias and the required humidity and temperature. I am curious as to what % humidity and the precise temperature. I tend to think they are better than "pretty good"!!!

I got up and got ready to go out in the mild weather (51) but then the rain began, drats!

Cleaning gutters is necessary but your neighbors' trees are just giving you good, healthy exercise (that you could do without).

I'll just sit here and sort through a spare 30,000 photos my computer guy added to my photo program.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I am so tickled. It snowed again, very lightly today. "Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful...." I have started baking. Soft Molasses cookies and double batches of jambalaya for canning.

Got fancy cellophane bags for giving cookies away, three cute baskets to put them in (for three particular neighbors) and a new gorgeous snowflake cookie cutter. Oh, and 10" cardboard disks to go under the cardamom bread. I will bake some ahead and freeze. And I want to make fruitcake (the kind with regular not sugared fruit), especially if I can find a recipe with brandy or rum. It is a little late for that as they are supposed to get wrapped and aged before giving them away. Can hardly wait til Laura gets here to help decorate the sugar cookies and deliver the baskets. One year we stood on the porch of one of my friend's house and as she opened up the door began singing the twelve days of Christmas. Only a few lines. It was so funny - the expression on her face.

Franklin, OH(Zone 6a)

Mary, care to share your soft molasses cookie recipe? YUM!

Mentor, OH

The snow and colder than normal temps this year set me back two or three weeks on digging the dahlias. Since I use some of the same beds for spring flowers I'm also way behind on planting them. Tomorrow's forecast calls for temps right at freezing and a little warmer, but rain on Friday. When the sun popped out this afternoon I saw my little window of opportunity and ran out and planted about 300 hyacinths. I've never planted anything quite this late except for a yellow lady slipper last year. So I won't get my hopes up too high for blooms next spring. The only alternative was letting them dry out in the shed. I didn't bother with the daffs. I've read that you can plant up until the ground freezes. I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Tomorrow I hope to dig daff's and move them to another spot, adding crocuses. Still need a good spot for the hyacinths I've dug. They are impatiently waiting.

Dan - they should do just fine. Most will bloom with 13 weeks of cold weather and I'm sure that will happen.

Mentor, OH

Thanks, Arlene. That's good to hear. I had almost decided not to bother planting them. I bought 200 back in September and had the other 100 from last year. The ones from last year had all sprouted.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Here the planted daff's sprout in fall with about an inch of growth. It's nice that they show us where they are so we don't dig too far and wide to get them moved.

It's 45 degrees outside already!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Thanks for the reminder about cold. I will move my bucket of daffy's outside closer to spring.

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.
BACK TO TOP