To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: February 2019 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: February 12. NEW TIME!!! Fun Programs!!! 7 PM. Not 7:30. Programs: Frank will present the ADS New Introductions slide show. See what’s hot in 2019. Also Tuber Swap. See below for details on how you can make deals with your fellow DCSers exchanging your lovely tubers for theirs. Devi will raffle off all three of the membership prizes for gift certificates to our tuber sale as well as a few of her frog-containing vases. Who will be the lucky ones??? Maybe you? Who will bring Valentine’s treats to celebrate your love of dahlias? C’mon Down! This is going to be a busy meeting.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS: Once again, Phil and Marilyn donated ALL their tubers to DSC with the proviso that we lift the clumps. So finding a break in the torrential rains, Tony and Deborah lifted 7/8 of the root masses in one marathon day! Tony really dug in; what a hero! Thank you Marilyn for the home-made rice blocks, cakes and cupcakes and to Phil for the glorious Petite Sirah with blackberry highlights. Now Deborah has all the root snarls at the Maus Haus. So if you want to learn dividing, give her a call and go over to help.
PSW CONFERENCE: We—DSC—are hosting the annual confabulation for any interested dahlianeer in California. (Non-Californians welcome, too.) February 16, Saturday 9:30 AM to 5 PM. 201 Eucalyptus Ave @ 19th Avenue. This is a great opportunity to meet bloomerati from all over. Karen Zydner will present the winners from the dahlia competitions of 2018 sliced and diced in several ways so you can best decide what to grow this year. Conference medals won at our show last August will be awarded. Lunch and speaker are included in the registration fee of $30. Pat has already solicited gift certificates from Cowlitz, Lobaugh’s and tubers from Hollyhill and Swan Island. In talking to Julie’s Dahlias in Portland, Devi secured another gift certificate. More of Jenna’s cool dahlia magnets might appear, too. Both Lynda Paradise and Devorah have sewn and knitted dahlia quilts. Do you have anything dahlia related to donate to our raffle? Click HERE to download registration sheet.
FIRST ANNUAL DSC TUBER SWAP: Several members have requested an opportunity to exchange dahlias inter-society. Devi has set up a Goggle Group. Click HERE to go to Google Groups, click on My Groups, then click on SFDahlias. If you don’t see SF Dahlias, send Devi an e-mail (email@example.com) to ask for an invite.
If you have some snazzy extra tubers, list them on our site. If someone is interested in your variety, you can negotiate a trade. Do this via email or exchange telephone numbers for direct talk. Obviously you could simply call the person who has the type you’re interested in, but this way you might see something else fun and new-to-you on posted lists. Do NOT bring a bunch of tubers to our February meeting if no one has made a deal with you. Please, ONLY bring tubers you’ve pre-arranged deals with. February will be our ONLY month where you can bring tubers into our meeting room which are not for sale; they are just for pre-arranged swap. From March hence, all individual deals will be consummated in the parking lot.
EYE CANDY: Check out these new and cool dahlias. Go to dahliaaddict.com to find sources for some of them. Dream of wonderful new sights in your garden.
GREENHOUSE GREMLINS: GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Good news, Lou, Devi and Pat have access to HEATED greenhouse benches. Bad news: the latest storm blew out a window so…….not so heated. Nevertheless, they predict that this might engender faster sprouts and better rooting of more cuttings! Good News: our propagators have more AA, A and B’s than ever before. Bad News: They have few novelties and few anenomes. Good News: They hope to have early cuttings available for sale at our MARCH meeting!!! Please personally thank each one of them for the hours of labor and their many, many personal tubers they put up on the bench to make these cuttings available to DSC.
FLOWERS OF THE YEAR: Bloomquist Candy Corn and Lo-Blush are our fully double and open-centered Flowers of the Year. What does this mean? Each year we choose two dahlias to challenge the growing skills of our entire group. All of us start with the same genetic clones but then what happens? Who has cultivated the most luscious soil? Placed them in the best light exposure? Added the best magic ingredients into the planting hole? Sprayed the ultimate cocktail the right amount of times? Staked them for maximum attitude? Whose trace elements yield the best color? Please buy and grow our two Flowers of the Year so we can all see the differences territory, nourishment and care make in these gorgeous blooms. In fact, buy 2 of Lo-Blush. It’s a mignon single that can be grown in a pot on a balcony, on a picnic table, can be moved around to capture the best sun. You could even grow Lo-Blush under lights inside your bedroom closet. Please, commit to this glorious experiment and bring your results to our August show. This is another way to participate in and support your Dahlia Society of California and maybe earn glory and ca$h.
IS THIS YOUR LAST NEWSLETTER? If you have not renewed your membership by the end of February, alas! This is your dismissive missive. Click HERE for your membership form. Download it and send it back to Devi with your check. Support your DSC, one of only 3 dahlia societies left in California. (I remember when there were 10 in LA area alone!)
FEBRUARY FUSSING AROUND: Attend PSWD conference, Saturday, Feb. 16, 9:30-5. Click HERE for registration. Sow some wild flowers: mustard seed, poppies, calendulas, alyssum. You can turn these gay spriteful posies under when you are ready to plant, but in the meantime, they really spruce up your mud patch. Or follow Phil’s lead and add 25 bags of chicken manure NOW so the rains will “soften” that urea before you tuck little dahlias into their new beds. Bob Papp’s cool tool hangs over his shoulder sucking up leaves from around his neighborhood. They pass through a masticator, chewing them up into little pieces before they get swooshed into the collecting bag. Voila! Headstart on compost!
If you left some dahlias in the ground, you might put big 5-gallon pots over the top. This serves at least 3 good reasons: first it protects them from getting toooo much rain; secondly, it acts as a mini-greenhouse, warming up that area just a little bit; thirdly, it prevents snails and slugs and other creepy chompers from getting in; and fourthly, no weeds will grown.
Now is also the time to jumpstart tubers. I place mine in quart or half gallon milk cartons filled with potting soil. I stack them in the warmest spot in the Maus Haus, my loft. As they sprout, I transfer them to my greenhouse under 18 hours of light/ 6 hours of dark. They are usually over a foot tall with a container full of roots when I plant them. Whoosh! They have a running start and some even begin blooming in May! You might get 4-5-or even 6 weeks more blooming time by jumpstarting your beauties. The other advantage of the milk carton technique is that you ONLY plant viable dahlias. Check out the April 2017 Newsletter for a great photo essay on milk carton propagation available HERE. Most tubers need 62-66 degrees to germinate. In San Francisco Bay soil, that could take a long time. They might just lie dormant in your garden for a LONG time or even NEVER sprout. Make every spot in your garden count right from the get-go.
Check out how to make temporary greenhouses HERE. Shop lights, a book case and some tin foil. For less than $50 you can build a nifty greenhouse in your basement, garage, closet or even as Carl did, in your living room.
You could also build a cold frame. Here are pictures of John Morton’s and of Carl’s. These do not have heat or light, but the glass concentrates the sunlight and protects your young plants from the rain and wind. My brother Mike plants his tubers in gallon pots and stacks them up in his greenhouse with a little heater in it—he’s in Boise, Idaho and it’s COLD. This yields him 2-3’ plants by the end of May when danger of final frost is over. Every little bit of cosseting now yields flowers earlier.
Yours in dirt,
Snailmail mistress: Pat Hunter
Photo credits: Boley, Capp, Capps, Cowlitz, Dietz, Dramstad, Elle, Kacere, Kennedy, Maxwell, Miner, Moeller, Ollieu, Parshall, Schroeder, Slavchev