Dahlias: Fall Dig, Winter Storage, Spring Anticipation

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

We came from here:

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1400808/#new

So your soil comes off with just a shake? You sure are lucky. I dug all mine today. Actually I didn't dig them out, only the one volunteer that I'm keeping. The others were all in those pots that I sank in the ground. All I had to do was pull out the pots. It worked so well, I'm so pleased I thought of that in the spring. Pull the pot and dump the soil and tubers out. Some of the clumps got so large that they sent roots out the drain holes and put a new tuber outside the pot! I had to use a tiny screwdriver to pick out all the soil. Then dunked them in a series of water baths, finishing with a bleach bath. Cinnamon on the wounds and throw them into a bag of dry peat. All set for storage. I'm going to take them over to my FIL's house to put in his crawl space tomorrow. My garage is too warm and he says that his crawl space gets to 40ish.

Once again Dan, I don't know how you do it. I really don't think I could handle anymore dahlias than what I have. Way too much work but they are beautiful for sure. I'll sit here with my 15 and be happy to see your 150...LOL

This message was edited Nov 14, 2015 10:09 PM

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

!50 would be overwhelming for sure! I have 20-25 and that is a lot of work. But so worth it in the Summer when they are blooming. Mine are all dug. Part of them cleaned, still have to clean several clumps before they can be stored.
I labeled all the clumps that were dug out of the large bed. I tried using a marker but it would not write on them, So I made plastic tags out of old mini blinds, punched a hole in them with a hole punch,wrote on them with a paint marker,and tied them to the clumps with wire ties. I have had a problem in the past with labeling. Everything I tried just didn't seem to work well. Since I don't bag mine, labeling was a real challenge. There are probably better ways to mark them but I used what I had available and I think it will work.
I had a few of mine that were in pots that grew tubers out of the drain holes, too.

Mentor, OH

The wind has finally died down and we're supposed to have temps near 60 and above until Friday. After that, who knows? Beside digging the dahlias, I have several hundred hyacinths and daffs to plant in the same beds.

I bought a roll of the plastic tags in the photo. They're about 3/4" wide and 7" long. I tested them by writing on them and soaking them in a bucket of water. The ink didn't run or smear. I think they'll be fine. I plan to only use them to identify the clumps when I dig. These tags came from AM Leonard's web site. Biggest problem is that I think they are only sold per 1000. I should be set for a while. lol

The general thought is if the tuber skin tears when writing on it, it needs to dry longer. I've found that writing with a fine point Sharpie, the skin will sometimes tear even if the tuber is dry. I use a medium point or one that is designed for laundry.

I can hardly wait to start digging mine. NOT! lol If I start digging this week it will probably be the first time I'll have to worry about sweating instead of chilling. What a difference a year makes!

Mentor, OH

Photo didn't post. I'll try one more time.

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Mentor, OH

Speaking of "what a difference a year makes", the first three photos are from 11/13/14 the fourth was three days later when the snow had "settled" enough to start digging.

Today, 62 degrees and sunny! lol

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Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

No digging in the snow for me, lol. I prefer to dig on a day like today it's sunny and 63 instead of on the day I actually done when it was 55 and windy and really cold feeling. But we know we have to do it when we can no matter what the weather outside it has to be done before the ground freezes ...end of story. I thought about using those tags like they use at the professional nurseries like you got. But l needed them asap so I just made my own.
.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow Dan, I forgot about that snow you got last year. What a terrible chain of events you've had. Snow last fall when digging, then tons of rain at planting time this year. Geez, hopefully you're finished with all your bad luck.

Nanny, if you don't bag them, how do you keep them stored?

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Funny you should ask about my Dahlia storage methods, Jeff. It turns out that I have been doing it "all wrong" lol. When I would dig them, l just shook off the dirt and store them in a produce box, like they ship bananas in. Then I would put them on the bottom shelf in my storage cabinet in my unattached garage. I never bag them. The thing is I don't seem to lose very many and I never have a problem with rot, but I don't do it the recommended method. At the very worst I have a few that shrivel a bit.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

You know what they say. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

This message was edited Nov 16, 2015 12:22 AM

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Edited duplicate post

This message was edited Nov 16, 2015 12:19 AM

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow! In your detached garage, is it heated at all? Every person's methods are different that's for sure. Best to do whatever works for you.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

we only turn the heat on when the temps get down in the low 20s, it is set on the minimum temp and stays around 40-50 degrees. I put them away from the heat at floor level so they have pretty consistent temps in a closed cabinet.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Awesome, that sounds like a perfect environment.

Storing them at my FIL's house in the crawlspace was a bust. I went over there Sunday and put my body 4' into the space and it was only about 5 degrees cooler than the basement (~65 deg) and more humid. I had to decline. At least my garage isn't humid. So mine will spend the winter in less than ideal conditions but I'm going to start leaving my car out to cool off when I come home before pulling it in the garage for the night. It will also help when it starts acting like fall/winter.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

That's a bummer. I may have mentioned before that I have to move my Dahlias to the basement under the stairs, if we end up putting an office in the garage. I have never stored any tubers under there and am not sure what the conditions are going to be. I need to check the humidity levels, but have no way of checking the winter time temps until we actually get some cold weather. I also have a bunch of Tropical plants that won't fit in the greenhouse. Being a plant addict is a LOT of work. lol

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Haha, I hope it works out for you. Being an addict is a lot of work indeed.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks, looks like we are in the same boat, so to speak. Right now my tubers are still in the same garage, Still drying and waiting to be boxed up. We shall see how it goes.

Mentor, OH

We've hit 70 degrees with wind gusts up to 48 MPH. I had planned to rake more leaves today but decided to cut down dahlia stalks instead and wait to rake leaves when (or if?) the wind dies down. This has been the windiest fall I can remember. I cut down about half of them (90+) and covered the short stalks with baggies and rubber bands. Some of the stalks were completely dried out or gone. I dug one clump just to see what it looked like. It looked great with eight tubers on it. I didn't clean off the dirt but could see at least a couple eyes. I covered it back up until later when I dig the rest.

Our temps are headed south after today and the forecast is showing highs in the mid 30's with snow showers on Sunday. Lows in the mid 20's. Sunny on Monday and Tuesday with highs of 37 and 41. I wish I could believe that. Should be good digging weather.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I like how you can see eyes and not even clean off the soil. I can't see eyes until the spring when they sprout...LOL Man, you get all kinds of crazy weather. I'm glad it's finally going to cool off this weekend. I think we might get our 'killing freeze' although it doesn't matter much because most everything is cut down and winterized anyway. It's been such a weird fall. Today we're supposed to get a 1/2" of rain but looking at the radar, I think we'd be lucky to get 1/4".

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

We got almost 2 inches of rain yesterday and the wind was horrible, gusts up to 50mph. I haven't had a chance to survey any damage around the property. All I know is the buildings and the greenhouse are still standing. lol The high winds always make me nervous. We are expecting lows of 21* this weekend possible rain and snow mix. I am so not ready for this!

Mentor, OH

The wind was still strong this morning but I decided I had to get rid of the leaves. I cut down the rest of the dahlia stalks that were causing the leaves to pile up in the backyard bed and started raking. I filled four trash cans and 15 of those tall brown leaf bags just in that one area. After I had finished, I thought about the forecast calling for a low of 26 Sunday night. It would really be a shame to lose the tubers if I waited any longer to dig. I flew into it and dug 60+ clumps and washed and labeled them. I dug most of my favorites in case I don't get a chance to dig the rest for a few days. Sometimes I let my bow hunting get in the way of other things. Anyway, here is a photo of the first 60 or so. I'll let them dry until probably Sunday and then start to divide.

The second photo is Ferncliff Illusion. It wins today's "Big Boy" award. Lots of tubers but many are the skinnier ones that I don't have a lot of luck storing.

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Mentor, OH

No photos, again! I'll try one more time. I don't know what's going on with this site. The photos were there when I previewed.

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Wyoming, MN

Don't tell anyone but there is still a dusting of snow on the ground from yesterday. It really cooled down. Most of the smaller bodies of water now have a coating of ice. Windchills were in the teens.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Brrrrr! Don't like the sound of that.

Mentor, OH

Today's catch. lol It was 37 and very windy when I braved the elements this morning at 8:30. The forecast was showing below freezing low temps for the next three nights. I thought this might be my last chance to save the remaining tubers. I dug about 70 and labeled and washed them. There are probably around three dozen still in the ground but most are duplicates, under achievers or ones I just didn't care for. If it warms back up next week and they're not ruined, I might dig them to give away. A Gore-tex rain suit and running warm water through the hose really helped. I was done by 11:30 so I came in and took a hot shower and spent the afternoon in a cold, windy deer stand. I'm a glutton for punishment.

I just checked the forecast and they're now saying 37 for tonight's low. Still, I don't think I'll chance leaving them in the tool shed and will slide the sled and tubers into the laundry room for tonight.

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Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

I would have to agree that you are a glutton for punishment Dan! lol

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow Hostages, a thin coat of ice on all the smaller lakes? It seems way to early for that but then again you are in MN. Most of our smaller lakes and ponds don't get a full ice cover over the winter. There's one next to work that used to be a quarry and that must be really deep because it doesn't freeze over that much at all, even when the temps get down to the single digits for a couple days.

Dan, you're crazy with all those tubers! So many, I didn't realize that was a sled in that first photo. It made me chuckle.

I have to get a new thermometer for my garage as I'm not 100% certain the one that's in my garage door opener is working. I think it's reading too warm but need another thermometer to be sure.

Wyoming, MN

Yes everything looks dead now. The water is open again. Very nice day today although cloudy.

Jeff you may want to check out various areas in your garage for temps. I store mine in a closet at my back door. The closet isn't heated and it is a great place for storing cold beverages too. I keep the door cracked so the cats can take care of any interested mice.A few mice usually try to move in this time of year. Two of the cats are great mousers. There aren't very many insects that they miss either.

Dan that does look like quite a crop. Amazing how each set of tubers is quite unique. I didn't realize it was a sled until you told us.

Mentor, OH

Lol, yeah that's my deer sled. And since it's not getting much action for it's intended purpose so far, I thought I'd put it to use hauling the tubers.

I just finished bagging and wrapping the last of the divided tubers. The tubers didn't look as good as normal this year. A lot of long skinny ones that are not good keepers. I like the ones that grow off the stem like spokes on a wheel, really easy to divide. But I had very few of those this year. Some of the clumps were so congested with small tubers that I couldn't see any way to get in to divide. On those, I either kept the entire clump or tossed the whole thing.

The tubers are unique. Some follow the same pattern of growth every year. Hollyhill 6-in-1 almost always has many round, golfball-like tubers which are a nightmare to divide. Ferncliff Illusion has tons of long, skinny tubers and I'm willing to bet that 90% don't survive storage.

I saran wrapped a lot of the skinny-necked tubers. I've read that's the best way to store those. Still, it's a low percentage deal.

The second photo shows a sprouting tuber I found in a zip-loc bag yesterday. The bag had fallen off a shelf in the tool shed and was hidden behind some other bags since back early June. There were a few rotten tubers in the bag. I had given up on them and meant to through the bag away. No idea how it survived the heat of summer and very little light. Don't ever think dahlias aren't tough! lol

I put a thermometer in the corner of my attic close to some vents. It shows about 58 degrees. I don't know if the thermometer is any good because it doesn't feel quite that cool. It's probably like the ones our weather people use. It should be a lot cooler this winter. I'm worried more about the low humidity.

I dug about 25 more clumps this afternoon that I had intended to leave in the ground. I decided to bag them dirt and all and see how they turn out. They'll probably be better than the ones I've put so much effort into dividing.

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Mentor, OH

I've noticed that if I preview more than once, the photos are erased. Wasn't that way before.

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Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

That's an interesting storage method for those in that laundry basket. It looks very time consuming but nice and tidy.

I bought a new thermometer for our bedroom that measures humidity and then put the old one down in the garage next to the dahlias. In the garage that thermometer has been reading 10 degrees cooler than the on on the garage door opener plate. I'm thinking that one is shot. Anyway, the dahlia thermometer was reading 50 degrees this morning, which is great. It was 30 outside and I've been parking my car in the driveway for a couple hours to let it cool before pulling it in. It seems to be working.

Mentor, OH

I'll be gone most of the next couple days. So I'll take this opportunity to wish all my fellow DG'ers and their families a Happy Thanksgiving. If you travel, please be safe.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!!!

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Happy T'day indeed!

Wyoming, MN

Past few days have been beautiful. Got up to 42 today and with no wind it felt very nice. Been cloudy though wouldn't mind some sun.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

It's been beyond beautiful here this fall. It's weird, it doesn't even seem like Christmas season. I think it was in the low 50s today and in the sun it was really warm. I had to take it down to my tank and long sleeve t outside.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Yes it has been a little warm here too. You may call me a pessimist but I have a feeling we may have to pay for this later. Are long term weather prognostication says then we will have more of the same as last winter I hope they're wrong.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I don't buy it for us here, maybe for you in KY. I'm full steam ahead with a warmer than average winter. This El Nino doesn't look like it's backing down. I know they were saying that the main reason some people are saying we might have a bad back half of the winter is because of the warm water plume in the gulf of Alaska. It was that warm water plume they were hypothesizing that gave us the miserable two winters. That plume looks to have shifted east from where it was and diminished somewhat. I guess we'll see. It's nearly impossible to predict winter conditions this far out even because, for us in the NE, you have to also worry about NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation), which also has a big effect on our weather conditions.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

I always take that long term forecast with a grain of salt...after all they have a hard enough time getting the day to day weather right. lol

Wyoming, MN

We may hit 50 this week! I am going to enjoy it while it is here.As a native Minnesotan I am prepared for whatever nature throws my way. I agree with your long range grain of salt opinion.

Mentor, OH

I saw our forecast last night and it's calling for 55-60 degrees for this coming weekend. I also saw a long range forecast for our area showing a milder winter with no significant snowfall until some time in January. I can live with that. Just wish I could believe it.

I've been taking advantage of this unseasonably mild weather by moving my tubers from the attic to the much cooler tool shed. I have to closely watch the lows, but have only had to bring them inside once. Last night, I looked out and saw the cars covered with frost. I nearly panicked but checked and found the temp was still 40 degrees. Maybe I'm not very observant or didn't pay attention in science class. But I had no idea it could frost with temps at 40 or slightly above. Learn something new every day. lol

One phenomenon I once saw was a small trout stream frozen on the stream bed with running water on the surface. I read about it on the internet but don't recall what they called it. Weird!

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