Feb. 14—yes Valentines Day!—at 7:30 at 9th and Lincoln. Program: ADS New Introductions, Fab 50, Cream of the Crop. If there’s time, Deborah will show you how to use your ADS Classification Books to procure the BEST tubers/cuttings for your 2023 Dahlia Garden. Who might bring Valentines chocolate or cookies or cupcakes to delight your favorite dahlia society? Zoom address will be sent out Feb. 13.
What is a PSW Conference? Growers from all the California Dahlia Societies—San Francisco, San Leandro, Monterey, San Louis Obispo and San Diego—come together. We do a little biz: clarify conference rules and categories, legacies; we recognize special triumphs and contributions from the past year; we have guest speakers; we have panels and Q and A; we co-mingle! We delight in a wonderful raffle that often includes gift certificates from commercial dahlia growers, sometimes early cuttings, often valuable tubers, betimes wine, and other wonderful surprises. We get to meet dahlia bloomerati from all over and share ideas about best practices (and sometimes worst! practices.) Your registration pays for continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon nosh, dinner and for the room. Definitely bring your ADS Classification Book, your cell with camera, paper for notes, and even consider contributing to the raffle as long as it pertains to gardening. Maybe we DSCers can carpool?
Pacific Southwest Dahlia Conference
Saturday, February 18, 2023 in San Leandro
72nd Pacific Southwest Dahlia Conference and 2023 Annual Meeting registration is LIVE
Click here to register https://tinyurl.com/PSWreg
Registration Deadline- February 10, 2023
PLEASE REGISTER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
PARADE OF BEAUTIES
Here are some treasures spotted last year. Use thedahliaaddict.com and the ADS classification guide to find out who is selling them this year. Enjoy!
TUBBER BEGGING ETTIQUETTE
How to ask someone for a tuber or a cutting? One of the best ways is to have an xl sheet of your tubers for exchange. On the left, list variety names; across the top, the ADS #, form, size, color. For your own control, you might also include a column for the amount of tubers you have so you don’t over promise. This facilitates a swap. Some growers appreciate chocolate or wine. All this swapping should be done OUTSIDE our meeting room or BEFORE our Tuber and Cutting Sale. Our upcoming PSW Conference is a perfect opportunity to exchange sought after varieties. Deborah sometimes divides a difficult clump in exchange for one or two tubers. (Thank you, Julie, for suggesting this topic.)
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?
Wolfe Lane Kevin reports that some of his tubers have sprouted already. Probably to compensate for the cold wretched weather, Kevin cranked up his heat and his tubers responded. So he gingerly pried his germinated tubers from their cozy vermiculite-filled chambers and planted them in light potting soil in milk cartons and popped them under lights. How fun to be able to transplant 2’ tall beauties come mid-March.
WHEN TO THROW OUT A TUBER
The only reason to toss out tubers is DISEASE. If your plant was wiessened, twisted, dwarfed or really problematic, you should have tossed it in the garbage last season! Now your benevolent DSC could use ALL your extra tubers. Yes, it’s an effort to label and save them all in vermiculite, but that’s the way we support our Society and pay for our meeting and show room and our web site, and our prizes and ribbons. Please do your best to divide and label your extra tubers. If you have a particularly gnarly clump, talk to some of our seasoned growers for help. Remember, many of our shoppers love our orphan bargains. These are tubers with no names, but lovely dahlias nonetheless. Please support your Dahlia Society of California with your extra tubers.
Check out the 3 gloriously blooming tree dahlias at our Dell. Tree dahlias should bloom for another 3 months, so enjoy. Thank you, Loren, for all the half gallon milk cartons. NOW is the time to start collecting. Sue posts a note on her neighborhood website and milk cartons magically appear on her front steps. The weekend after New Years, Erik and Nick lucked out with a dryish interval between our 9 atmospheric rivers to exhume their clumps on the hillside. Lucy, Brigid and Deborah joined Sarah to pull several of her hillside clumps. Not only did they heft out the heavy cage-clumps, they weeded and raked! Lovely. Sarah’s next challenge: extricate all the clumps from gopher cages, divide, bleach and label. Whew! The team also excavated 5 of Deborah’s sophomores. Good news: despite the torrential, record-breaking amounts of precipitation, the tubers look GREAT! Deborah made a dozen cuttings of still-blooming Blomquist Candy Corn.
SAN FRANCISCO HEARTS FOR SF HOSPITAL
Since 2004, various artists have created giant heart sculptures which are displayed all over San Francisco. This year 30 have been designed to be auctioned off to provide funds for San Francisco General Hospital. Check out Monica Mejia Loos’s floral heart with SF’s official flower—THE DAHLIA—front and center.
NOTE THESE DATES
DSC TUBER AND CUTTING SALE
Saturday, April 22 9th and Lincoln Golden Gate Park
(This may change to April 15, so stay tuned)
SHOW FLORIBUNDA! August 19-20 same place
MBDS TUBBER SALE April 15 Deerpark Shopping Center, Aptos
Show: September 2-3
Santa Cruz County Fair: 13-17
SAN LEANADRO TUBER SALE: Saturday April 22
Show: September 9-10
CENTRAL COAST SHOW: August 12-13
ADS NATIONAL SHOW PORTLAND OREGON: AUG 26-27
2023 NATIONAL SHOW: PORTLAND, OREGON
August 24-August 28
Entrance into the show itself is FREE: thousands of blooms from competitors all over the US and Canada. Portland is known for having up to a hundred dahlia arrangements, some of which are spectacular, some funny, some startling. However, if you want to participate in the evening of Palaver, lunch, awards dinner, all the great talks and panels, AND the home tours including Baulig’s and the Kennedy’s HOLLYHILL!, you need to register. The venue is right on the scenic Columbia River, quite a breathtaking backdrop with floor-to-ceiling windows. Maybe some of us can caravan the drive up and stop at some dahlia gardens on the way……Check your last ADS Bulletin or the Portland Dahlia Society website for details.
PANOPLY OF LOVELIES
Here is the second tranche of photos of arresting varieties from 2022. Enjoy.
Field dressing is a way of lifting only a portion of a tuber clump and leaving a few still in the ground. This allows many great and small roots and a couple tubers to remain untouched; they will sprout and mature earlier. Still half or more of the clump comes out. Since you only want one— or max two— stalks per clump, you want to remove all the other tubers. If you left all these tubers in, they would compete for diminished resources making the flowers smaller; the stems weaker; and the plant crowded. Here is how Deborah field dresses:
- With a trowel, determine the contours of the entire clump.
- Decide which portion you will leave in
- With your spade dig straight down around all the edges of the portion you will take out.
- With a large knife or Hori Hori go straight through the dominant stalks at the divide between leaving in and taking out. This way you sever all the roots holding the section you want to remove.
- Lift the portion you want to remove and divide using a lever action with your shovel.
- Into the resulting hole, add your secret sauce. Mine often includes a table spoon of Dr. Earth Flower Girl Fertilizer, a teaspoon of calcium nitrate, and a little cinnamon near the exposed tubers that I am leaving in as a bud deterrent.
- Fill the hole with composted luscious planting soil. Voila! All set for another year’s performance.
Weeds! Who knows whether we’ll have more rain, but every weed you leave in today, erupts into a hundred more interlopers tomorrow. The more you weed now, the less you will be plagued by later. Some people lay down flat cardboard to eliminate the possibility of any emerging growth. They remove it at planting time. DO NOT use RoundUp. It will taint your garden for years.
Germination is temperature dependent. Try putting a 5-gallon bucket over the top of your AA and A clumps still in the ground. This protects them from bugs and rain and also acts as a mini-greenhouse warming that exact area of soil.
MILK CARTON JUMP STARTING
I DO NOT plant any tubers directly in the ground any more. Instead, I pot up all my tubers in half-gallon milk cartons and germinate them in my loft? Why? I cannot control the temperature, the weather, the snails or critters at the Dell; but in my own loft I can control all of these things. After I’ve divided a clump, I soak each tuber in a 10% bleach bath for at least 10 minutes; I cover the cut areas with sulpher or cinnamon; I half fill the milk carton with light potting soil (1/3 sand, 1/3 vermiculite or perlite, 1/3 rich compost). I lay out the tuber and cover with the same mix. I LABEL immediately. NO WATER! Another advantage of milk cartons is that you can stack them. Some people stash these on the highest shelf of their warmest bedroom; others like the top of the refrigerator or water cooler. Once a week I open each box to check for sprouts. These I bring into the light slowly so as not to burn the white tendrils. I usually plant these out in the Dell starting in mid-March when they are 1-2’ tall.
Why make cuttings? Cuttings are a way to increase stock, share with friends, help your DSC out, and to test your skills. Place your tuber with distinct eyes head up in light potting mixture. Some people put these on heating pads or with heating wires in the soil. Mist lightly. Have lights within 5-10” of the tubers to encourage sprouting. Lou makes his cuttings with only 3 sets of leaves; I prefer 4 pairs of leaves. Using a sterilized blade, cut the sprout close to the tuber. Some people dip in a rooting solution; I don’t see a difference, so I don’t. I prefer to start my wee sprigletts in 1”x 1”x3” pots; Lou pops his immediately into 4”x4.” I put mine in my unheated greenhouse under 18 hour lights. I mist daily. When the roots run riot out the bottom of my 1x1x3’s, then I transplant into 4×4’s. These are what you buy at our Tuber and Cutting Sale. Try it; it’s fun!
SNAILS, SLUGS, EARWIGS, OH MY!
According to my records, last year I had sprouts up at the Dell by January 22; in 2021 the first erupted Feb. 4. Our atmospheric rivers might set these dates back a bit. However, I noticed that both Pat and Sarah have a couple already germinated and waving wee green leaves of joy. Beware! Everything wants to eat these newest greenest delicacies. Get some Super Sluggo Plus, diatomaceous earth and/or copper rings out as soon as you see rustlings of growth. Greg generously donated a package of copper flashing tape @1” wide with which I can surround the new plantlettes. (Thank you, Greg!) The slime of slugs and snails reacts with the copper and discourages trespass. Doesn’t daunt the earwigs, however. Paula defends hers every year with these copper bulwarks. BE PREPARED!
Register for the PSW Conference in San Leandro. Make car pool plans.
Yours in dirt,
Photo credits: Dietz, Echelmon, Gaensler, Loos, Smith
DSC Membership: Debbie