To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: April-May 2012 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: May 8, @ 7:30 time @ 9th and Lincoln
PROGRAM: DJ gives tips on taking great dahlia pix, using the ADS 2010 and 2011 ADS Photo Contest winning pix as examples. He’ll explain how easy it is to enter: all done on line, nothing to mail. Bring problems, solutions and questions to ask our veterans.
Please bring any extra tubers, cuttings or plants that you’d like DSC to sell, thereby sharing the good stuff with your fellow dahlianeers. We have extended the invitation to other dahlia societies and the public at large so we hope for a rousing meeting and good sale. Do remember to keep 10-30% spares as insurance against rampaging dogs, voracious gophers, insidious insects, and pilferous people. Who will bring treats for hungry gardeners at our meeting?
PLAYING THE GENETIC LOTTERY
DJ escorted us from seed head to blooming garden and every step in between. DJ pursues the magic of seedlings because, “It’s the most fascinating part” of growing dahlias. DJ and Peg’s New Year’s tradition finds them separating the seeds from the chaff. “I have used the APS System (Accelerated Propagation System) in the past because it’s easy and fun to use and IT works! The type I have used for the past 8 – 10 years is the APS-24. The capillary matt draws up water like a wick to prevent under or over watering the seeds. Check out www.Gardeners.com Item #32-574. They were $14.95 plus tax at S & H last year; however, you can use them forever! If you break apart of the set-up they offer individual replacement pieces too.
I have found that you should leave the seeds on the matt under lights for 2 weeks. If they were going to germinate they would have by then. Next I lift them into 2” pots with moist soil and again cover them for the next two weeks with a transparent top. Next harden them off a couple of hours each day until you feel they are safe to remove from your greenhouse. I keep the pots moist and if they stay in the 2” pots much past a month I move them up to 3” pots depending on how soon I will plant them out. When the seeds are on the matts I DO NOT have heat under them, rather I have found they do best if placed as close to your light source as possible. I do this by stacking boxes under the tray in order to raise it. I got the clear top part within2” of my shop lights this year and it worked quite well. As an experiment this year I tried using “rotisserie chicken trays” filled with moist soil and just laid the seeds out on top of the soil in rows. I put the top on and again placed them close to the shop lights. In two weeks’ time they had sprouted quite well and at that time all one would need to do is transplant them into 2” pots.” Last year DJ and Curtis challenged the San Leandro group to grow seedlings from Prometheus. For $1 each, East Bay growers vied for Best of Lot and “the dog that barks the loudest” to split the money pot. What a variety of genetic results!
Lou P. announced that Elvira won the Stanley Johnson Award for 2011 and thus will grace the cover of the ADS Classification “Bible” next year. The contest begins now for the best photo of Elvira. Lou needs actual paper 4×6” photos which include your name, address, e-mail and telephone number. He hopes you’re creative, because Elvira’s such a teeny champion. Details and entry forms are in the March ADS Bulletin.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS
Thanks to Mitzu and Amy, the Manis, Devorah, Deborah and the Schelps for all the tubers, cuttings and plants brought in March and April. Your extra care and labor give your fellow DSCers planting pleasure and $ociety treasure. Both Tinnee and Pat brought Florentines — never too many for sure! Thanks to both for kitchen duty under Donna’s fine tutelage.
WIKI PSW CONFAB
Dahlia cognoscenti met for a one-day blitz of Pacific Southwest Conference biz. Lou P. added a new category to our show: micro. Any open or double dahlia smaller than 2” will qualify except a mignon single. Lou restressed that Novelty indicates unusual FORM, not color nor size. Karen passed out her famous 2011 Winners lists sliced and diced three ways: By show, by type, and ranked by blues.
Elvira, Chimacum Julia, Stillwater Plum, and Elfin clocked in first through fourth place. Complete with props, Roy Stier gave an impassioned argument for making pot roots of your favorite cultivars as insurance and cutting stock for next season. When you pinch out your plant, pot it up in a wee 2×2” and then transfer it eventually to a 4×4” and plant it in the garden. A space of 3 x6’ can easily hold almost 200 pot roots. Roy says he’s taken a bloom from his pot plot straight to the Court of Honor. Try it!
TUBER SALE TRIUMPH!
Zowie! What a constellation of events climaxing in one of our most successful tuber sales ever. The rains held off to give us good tubers which meant we had more good things to put on the cutting tables. Pat, Deborah and Devorah engineered great publicity, including a blurb in The Chronicle and hundreds of emails. DJ’s photo and Devorah’s poster spread the word. On Friday, Gerda, Linda and
Lou brought in over 1000 prime cuttings including Camano Pet, Elvira, Sir Richard, Eden Barbarosa, Midnight Star, and Aitira Rufus complete with photos of each. They also turned Mike and Martha’s donation of 10 A and AA clumps into almost 100 of the BIG ONES—the first stop for so many growers. Devorah and Deborah brought in almost 150 plants and cuttings each. John and Vince set up all the tables in the auditorium with Pat’s help whilst Elsie supervised. Volunteers hit the ground running on Saturday, sorting all the tubers from DJ, Mitzu and Amy, Devorah, Deborah, Pat, Soc, Paula, the Wardens, Roger, Frank, Jamie, Sue, (and whom did I miss?) resulting in not only the most tubers we’ve had in a long while, but one of the best selections ever. Martha and Deborah delivered rousing Q & A’s to the long and patient line outside our building. In the first hour the public bought up almost 80% of our offerings. Whew! Thanks to Marilyn, Mike and Sue who counted and wrangled lines; to Elsie, Deborah, Joe and Paula who cashiered; to webmaster Mike and Hazmat John who checked out those leaving; and to everyone else wearing the Manis’ “Ask Me” badges who patiently guided the throngs through size and form interpretations. Devorah and Marina encouraged many people to join our society, sold books and a t-shirt under DJ’s educational sign. As flats emptied John M. whisked them away, consolidated tables and then wiped them clean enough to eat off of. As the buying frenzy ebbed, we celebrated with delicious potluck. Frank brought wine for toasting and Lou brought sodas for bubbles. Lots of terrific salads including carrots from the Dingwalls, spinach and blue cheese from Mike W. and the Schelps, pasta from Devorah and potato from Deborah helped us be healthy. Tinnee’s pizzas disappeared as quickly as they emerged from the ovens. John and Donna’s cold cuts made great sandwiches. DJ’s Diabetic Coma squares and Paula’s red velvet cake topped off groaning bellies. Congratulations DSC on the BEST tuber sale in years! Please make resolutions right now that you will bring in tubers, cuttings and plants nextyear to eclipse even this year’s success!
MAUS HAUS TWISTING PATH TO SUCCESS
Deborah utilizes every inch of her 900 square foot SF home for dahlias. First she pots tubers in milk cartons on her deck. They climb the spiral staircase to her germinating loft, the warmest spot chez Maus. Sporting at least 3” sprouts, the milk cartons progress to her unheated greenhouse, which glows like a little space ship from midnight until 4 am each night. At about 8” high, the dahlias travel up to her front or rear decks where Orlando has “flown spinnakers” of clear plastic drop cloths stretched over pvc pipe, where they can harden off with some protection from direct sunlight and wind. For Valentine’s Day, Orlando gifted Deborah with the perfect Lowe’s gadget, an 11-pattern metal spray nozzle, which includes the perfect mist selection for inside and outside the greenhouse, just kissing but not dousing her tender plants. The hardened off plants travel to the Dahlia Dell where Mary Ann, Valeria, and Nancy tuck them into permanent rows in Golden Gate Park.
DAHLIA DELL DOINGS
Pepe and Irene from Wells Fargo helped Frank eradicate his weeds. Marina pulled pesky weeds with Tinnee. Pat and Lou plucked over the course of several days and layed in their first dahlias. Erik and Nicholas assaulted green usurpers in their section and planted anew for this season. Fascinated by the process, the public has begun to check the progress in the Dell, sometimes daily. Orlando extended the watering system an extra section and introduced Deborah to a big red stake pounder so she wouldn’t slam her fingers with thesledge hammer.
APROACHING APRIL and MASTERING MAY
Planting at last! With 3 different propagation types of dahlias to plant, there are 3 different sets of instructions to follow (of course).
1. Tubers: Dig a hole 4-6” deep. Add fertilizer and some Bayers Rose fertilizer and systemic insect control and mix thoroughly. Pound in a stake BEFORE you place the tuber lying flat with its “eye to the sky.” Cover with 2-3” dirt so that the hole is not all the way filled. As the sprout emerges, you can add soil until things are flush with the surface. If your soil is very dry, add @ a cup of water and NO MORE until you see a sprout. Some people even put a big 5 gallon black pot over the spot; this protects your tuber from getting too much rain and turning to mush, and at the same time acting as a mini green house, warming up the immediately surrounding soil.
2. Cuttings: Ascertain that your cuttings have been hardened off. When sure, plant with at least the first leaf pair buried. This increases the likelihood that this cutting will produce tubers this season because you will have a leaf joint and its meristem underground. Hammer in stake and strew snail/ earwig pellets all around. Without critter protection, your precious cutting simply becomes expensive slug buffet. Lou P. makes a little ring/ dike around his cuttings so the water has some place to collect. Water immediately and every day for at least the first two weeks. Cuttings have hair-fine roots which can dry out otherwise.
3. Plants in buckets or milk cartons: These are the easiest to plant of all. I just rip my milk cartons open and plop the entire brick of roots in a hole deep enough that I cover the first set of leaves, after depositing fertilizer, Bayers and a stake. Water. Add snail/earwig protection. Though costly, Super Sluggo defends your yummy green dahlias in a “green” manner, safe for kids, pets and birds. Roger is experimenting by leaving his dahlias in 4 gallon pots, and sinking the entire container into a hole, covering the rest of the ground with weed cloth. It worked well last year. No matter what you plant, LABEL IMMEDIATELY! Alas, sharpies fade; pencils don’t. I start in pencil and replace with computer printed labels on water resistant paper. Do you have recalcitrant tubers which refuse to eye up? Try the Erik G trick: wring out a hand towel and cover the exposed tubers with this damp cloth in a warm spot (window, on top of the water heater, atop the ‘fridge). DO NOT put in your gas oven to let the pilot light jolly them to germination the way Tinnee did one year; preparing to bake bread, Craig preheated the oven………and you can guess the rest of the story. After your wee plants have been in the earth @3 weeks, give them their first spraying. Kristine Albrecht and Sharon Lucchessi go completely green by using Serenade’s Disease Control Concentrate Fungicide, Vegol’s Worry Free Pesticidal Oil, and Captain Jack’s Deadbug Spinosad. However you decide to go, mix a WEAK combination of fertilizer, fungicide, and bugicide and spray over leaves. Liberally ply with snail/slug/earwig preventative. Now is the time to devise a suitable watering system: pvc pipe, soaker hose, drip system. It’s much easier to put in your water equipment first and plant second than vice versa.
Yours in Dirt,
Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA — Copyrighted
Editor: Deborah Dietz
Page layout: Mike Willmarth
Photos: Dietz, Ecklebarger, Harris, Mani