To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: December 2015 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: December 8 @ 6:30 @ 9th and Lincoln
We begin our revels at 6:30 so don’t be late. Do bring a scrumptious dish to share and a wrapped gift related to dahlia growing (@$10). People have been known to don their glad rags and sparkle, so don’t hesitate. There’s nothing too glittery or too gala.
DIG AND DIVIDE
Rose reported that Lou galvanized all with his entertaining and illustrative performance. He demonstrated how to save seeds- which is not a good method for producing consistent varieties because dahlias do not breed “true.” How many baby boys need to be born to provide one Michael Jorden or girls born to produce one Barbra Streisand? Lou showed the stages of the seed pods and when the seeds become viable. Lou stops deadheading by October to produce seeds. He pollenates the flowers manually which is very laborious with only 6-8% resulting in show quality flowers. Dahlias do not self-pollenate and the varieties have to be similar to be pollenated. Larger blooms produce larger seeds. The open centered dahlias are more easily pollinated because their pollen is more accessible to the bees. The fully double varieties are more difficult because the pollen is not exposed as much as the other forms.
Then Lou demonstrated digging the tubers. He stops watering by October and cuts the plants down to leave 3-4 nodes. One third of his stock is left in the ground which is ok for a couple of years. He digs trenches around the tuber clumps and then gets under each with two shovels to lift it out. If it is too stubborn, he will fill the trench with water and remove the dirt that way. He admonishes,” Do not lift the clump out by the stem,” because you risk breaking fragile necks, where the tubers are attached to the main stem.
After digging, Lou starts the dividing. It is better to divide now rather than in the spring when it will get woody. He passed tu- bers around to show their eyes which you can see for about 24 hours, then they disappear until spring. Lou used various types of knives and a pair of scissors. A small hammer is a good tool to help in the separation of the tubers. Wear vinyl gloves under Playtex gloves to protect your hands. Always cut away from yourself to prevent injury.
After dividing, soak in a 10% bleach solution for 5 minutes and then dust with Captan, sulfur or other fungicide. Take several days to dry out the tubers before storing for the season. Stor- age media could be vermiculite, wood shavings, paper shreds, etc.
ELECTION RESULTS – DSC OFFICERS AND BOARD MEMBERS
Prez: Tinnee Lee
First VP and program manager: Frank Schulkin
Treasurer: Joe Norton
Recording Secretary: Pat Hunter
Corresponding Sec. and Newsletter editor: Deborah Dietz
Board members for 2016-2018: Debby Frank, Lou Paradise, Tony Soucha and Lola Petit
There are many ways to support your beloved DSC: help at the meetings, suggest new programs or lecturers or demonstrators to Frank, volunteer at the Dell, offer various members help with dividing, dipping and storing of their tubers, write a fun article for our newsletter, take pix of our favorite flower and our favorite people interacting with dahlias, look around and be of service. It’s so much more fun to be involved than to look on from the sidelines.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS
Obviously getting into training for Thanksgiving, lots of DCSers brought yummy goodies, including Leo with his M&M cookies and Gino’s blueberry pound cake complimenting Devi’s blueberry strudel. John and Annette’s pound cake bread, Pat’s Whitman’s chocolates, and Billy’s banana bread, stacked well against Jackie’s outstanding strawberry shortcakes. MMMM. Just think what we’ll have at our holiday party!!!
YOUNG MINDS AND PLYABLE KNEES
Yet again, Erik invited three sets of third graders from the Marin Country Day School to come help out at the Dahlia Dell. Nick whetted their appetites by sharing a splendid PowerPoint presentation in their classrooms and an- swered their early questions. Then Erik explained about Mr. Sutro’s huge estate in the sand dunes, the 1926 proc- lamation to make the dahlia the official flower of San Fran- cisco, and even discussed how those left homeless after the earthquake camped in Golden Gate Park in old army tents. His genetics discussion using labradoodles kindled their imaginations and had the parents rolling their eyes. Jenna and Erik led contingents of kids every day to weed weed weed. Sarah and Debo- rah monitored deadheading and deleafing. Nevertheless, the students’ favorite activity remained compressing the compost. They loved jumping down the hole.
FLOWERS OF THE YEAR
Each year the board chooses a double and an open dahlia as our group chal- lenge flower. We hope you will all buy cuttings of AC Abbey and Lulu Island Mom at our tuber sale and bring them to our Floriganza in August. The idea
Lulu Island Mom
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Usually artist Kevin Woodson produces an annual calendar with many different types of plant paintings. This year Kevin painted so many exciting dahlia portraits, that he’s depicted ALL TWELVE MONTHS with inimi- table dahlia renderings. Kevin’s Dahlias 2016 Calendar is available online for $20 plus shipping. The calendar ships almost anywhere in the world (already tested Asia and Europe), and you can have it in time for January!
http://www.lulu.com/shop/kevin-woodson/ kevins-dahlia-calendar-2016/calendar/prod- uct-22439077.html
PACIFIC SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE
behind Flower of the Year is to see who can take the same genetic clone substance and produce the most beautiful blooms. What amazing differences micro-climates, idio- syncratic fertilizing, unique tilth, exposure, and tending wreak on our dahlias. I once saw a table full of almost 100 April Dawns challenge blossoms duking it out. One hundred different gardeners produced one hundred different results. Very cool and fascinating. Plan to try it in 2016 with AC Abbey and Lulu Island Mom.
Each February members from all the dahlia societies in California convene. This year the Dahlia Soci- ety of California hosts this group. We will meet for a single consolidated day to save people from hav- ing to rent hotel rooms overnight. Registration forms will be included in our January newsletter.
DUES ARE STILL DUE
Please print out and fill in a new membership form and mail to Devorah Joseph. We have included a new opt in/opt out on sharing your name and email with other members of DSC. You also have the option of joining the American Dahlia Society. If you join ADS at the same time as DSC you save $10. If Devi receives your new form by our Holiday Party, you will automatically receive THREE raffle tick- ets for gift certificates for our tuber/cutting sale. If Devi gets your form by our January meeting, you’ll earn two raffle tickets. If your form gets to her mailbox by the end of January, you will still get one raffle ticket. FILL OUT AND MAIL YOUR FORM TODAY!
Prepare something wonderful for our holiday potluck. Bring or make a very stealable gift for a rous- ing game of Present Predation. In the past, hot items have included loppers, baskets full of bulbs, and oddly enough a burping bull frog.
In your gardens, many of your dahlia plants have turned brown. Your big decision will be whether you will be digging these clumps out or whether you will be leaving them in the ground. If your soil is clay or very hard, then the only decision is to dig them out. If you leave them in soggy ground, the tubers will turn to mush and disappear. No joy. If you only have a few clumps, try the cardboard box trick. Put a big shovel of dirt into the box; carefully prize out your tuber clump leaving AS MUCH DIRT ON
it as possible; gently put the dirty clump on top of the first shovel of dirt in the box; add one or two more shovels full of soil on top of that; store in a cool but not cold spot like the basement or under your house. The tubers will think they are still in the ground and remain dormant until the temperature rises. Obviously the cardboard box technique takes a lot of space, so you might need to divide your tuber masses instead. Follow Lou’s great instructions. They can be stored in large-grain vermiculite, cedar shavings like used for guinea pigs, sand, Saran Wrap, or peat moss and newspaper shreds. Fig- ure out what works best for you. Cool is between 40-50 degrees; cold is less than 35 degrees. I often divide mine, dust the exposed edges in cinnamon—so festive and so effective and so green—and then plant them directly into milk cartons. I do not water my milk cartons until I see the green sprouts erupt. However, based upon John Mani’s experience, if you are in VERY hot and dry circumstances, you may need to add a FEW drops of water. Remember, your tubers don’t have roots so they can’t absorb water yet; a wet, rootless tuber will ROT. You just need the hint of water and a temperature over 62 degrees to urge them to germinate.
Sarah, Billy, John, Carter and I have been taking late sea- son cuttings since the end of October. We wait until a new sprout on the lower portion has 3-4 sets of leaves. We take it off at the stem. Lou, Devi, Pat, and Corralitos put these sprouts directly into oasis plugs. I put mine into 2×2” pots of Dell dirt. Some people dip the sprigs in hormone solu- tion; I don’t. We all get the cuttings as close to a source of light as possible and extend the daylight for another 5-7 hours with artificial lighting. This is fun to try. You can use a lamp on your bookshelf if you just want to try a couple.
Start checking the hot commercial dahlia sellers for treasures. I have bought from Aztec, Corralitos, Linda’s, and Verrone’s Pride of the Prairie. Devi thinks highly of Blossom Gulch and Lobaugh’s. Sue and Valeria have had success with Swan Island. Go on line and fantasize.
Yours in Dirt,
Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA — Copyrighted
Originally Organized In 1917
Editor: Deborah Dietz
Page layout: Mike Willmarth
Photo credits: Dietz, Gaensler, Joseph, Schulkin, Woodson