To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: January 2021Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: Zoom. We’ll talk about tuber storage, DIY greenhouses and share the photo contest from Portland Dahlia Society.
Time: Jan 12, 2021 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
BROWSING JOY: In case you can’t make our Zoom meeting or in case you want to ponder the photos on your own, here are the URLs for the Portland Dahlia Society’s Photo contest. Larry Smith writes, “I am stubborn and “dahlia show cancelled” was not an acceptable solution to this show season. 260 photo entries were submitted by our members and people from other clubs who regularly support our show.
Please share with anyone you know who may enjoy them and place them on any social media you use. It took hours upon hours to do this and I want people so see them.”
“Artistic Categories” (Arrangements and Baskets):
“Fan Favorites” (Vase of Dahlias, People’s Choice):
“Dahlia Debutantes” (New Varieties, New Participants, Public Entries)
“Open Centered Varieties” (Disc Blooms and Micros)
“Showstoppers” (Fully Double Blooms)
BEWARE! GHASTLY GALL! We all look for prominent eyes as we divide our tubers. Do NOT be delighted to see bunches of eyes all in one place. This is either crown gall or leafy gall—both disastrous and highly contagious bacterial infections. If you find this overgrowth, immediately throw away in the garbage –NOT your compost—the entire clump. Dip your tools in bleach and let them dry in the open air. Rhodococcus fascians spreads through water. So toss out any standing water you may have been using whilst dividing tubers.
DAZZLING DELECTATIONS: Here are the first 8 dahlia pix to tantalize your fantasy. You can find more information on where to buy some of them at thedahliaaddict.com
LIGHT SHOWS GALORE: The Conservatory once again screens its psychedelic wild colors and patterns over its “canvas” of glass. Added to that San Francisco’s artist, Carles Gadeken, has installed his giant light fantasies in Peacock Meadow, just to the East of our Dell. Gadeken’s “Entwinded” runs through 8:30 each night FREE. He says it will be up through February. Whilst in the neighborhood, check out the giant Ferris wheel at the Science Academy.
TUBER TROVE: Stacia sent in this photo of her eponymous Eden Stacia tubers. Wow! Great start!
EYE CANDY: Here’s another tranche of distinctive dahlias.
DAHLIA DELL DOINGS: Lou and Sue are completely dug out. Sue is reconditioning her right hillside. Pat is halfway dug up. Deborah has only pulled 3 clumps so far, but they are processed and up in her loft. Pat weeded Tinnee’s section of the hill and Erik has kept the freeloaders at bay on his tiers. Pulling weeds now really saves a lot of effort later. The rains engender a thousand more weeds! Imagine a huge hook and ladder fire truck practicing maneuvers right outside our teardrop. Such a surprise! Guess what the Parks Trust used as its background for its donation soliciting missives? Our Dahlia Dell!! Of course they used a summer photo not a snapshot of its present brown drabness.
DAHLIA CALENDAR: The Capital Dahlia Society’s 2021 Dahlia Calendar is so gorgeous that Deborah got a few extra copies in case some of you NEEDED one to start the new year on a hopeful note. Let her know: firstname.lastname@example.org Really lovely! $10.
RINGING IN JANUARY! Ah, a New Year! I wish I’d been encouraged 34 years ago to keep a dahlia book/log/calendar/journal. Never too late. So I’ve finally started this January. I’ll keep track of what I dig up, amounts, condition, methods of extraction, division and preservation. I’ll note the date of the first tuber sprouting in my loft. I’ll mark how many of the clumps left at the Dell sprout on which dates. How I wish I had all this information from decades of growing so I could compare and anticipate.
COMPOSTING: I just swept up a 5-gallon bucket of beautiful ginko leaves from my neighbor’s driveway. This is the season to really plump up the condition of your soil. Phil usually adds 30+ bags of chicken manure to his 120 dahlia plot. If you have a well populated garden, try columnar composting—compost in a narrow column. Dig a 2-3’ deep hole; add your rich kitchen compost: potato and carrot peals, apple cores, tea bags, egg shells, crab carapaces, banana peals, onion skins, even rice dregs. Keep a HEAVY pot over the top to discourage critters from pilfering. Every time Paula pulls out a dahlia clump, she enlarges the hole and begins filling it with semi-composted garden rot. By the time she’s ready to plant again, it’s become a trove of rich and invigorated soil. Think of this as filling the larder for your insatiable dahlia gang. Do you have friends with bunnies, birds or llamas? Jackpot! These are gourmet manures! Curtis reminds us that there’s a 30’ tall mountain of herbivore zoo pooh for the taking at the Oakland Zoo. “It’s great stuff! Really holds moisture.”
STORING TUBERS: Not every method works for every person. I have tried guinea pig shavings and peat moss. The one is too dry and the other too wet for MY storage. I use exclusively vermiculite. Find the store that stocks huge bags. Soooooo much cheaper than buying multiple teenzy ones. I found a couple good deals on line. You will have to experiment. Stacia reports that vermiculite is too dry for her environment. Certain people wrap individual tubers in Saran wrap. Mine all rotted using this method, but it surely works for other people. In Idaho, my brother Mike can store his tubers in 5 gallon buckets with no packing around them at all; Boise, at 4000’ + is very dry. It works for him. Baker Bill used to store his tubers in a single layer in giant pizza boxes he’d stack atop his garage refrigerator. Just enough heat escaped the roof that it would gently sprout his beauties. Some people close their tuber containers; others need to keep them open for air circulation. Experiment. Find out what works for YOU.
HOW TO GERMINATE YOUR TUBERS: Most tubers sprout in 62-65 degree ambient temperature. I prefer to start my tubers in milk cartons because my loft holds those temperatures long before my soil warms up to those constant degrees. Furthermore, I can control the amount of moisture, unlike outdoors. Find a spot in your home that’s out of the way, but warm—like an upper shelf in a back room. Try an upper shelf in the bathroom where they’ll benefit from the occasional shower steam. Sue pops hers in her gas oven with just the pilot light: warm but not cooked. Tinnee used to do this until unbeknownst to her, Craig went on a bread baking binge. So Sadddd.
DERTH OF TUBERS: Most of the commercial growers posted their catalogs on line before Christmas. Many of them sold out almost everything within a day of opening. Why? In many cases, tuber crops were slim. The Murphy’s Law seems to read: the more you spend for a tuber the fewer tubers it will produce. For those procrastinators, consider Cowlitz or Stonehouse. They produce cuttings and may still have some slots in their greenhouses open. Some dahlias make almost NO tubers at all. Belle of the Ball, Porcelain and Jessica must be propagated via cuttings or they would go extinct. So this is further inducement to you to try your best to save tubers. Once you have experienced the entire process: digging, cleaning, dividing, bleaching, dipping in sulfur, labeling, drying, storing and periodically checking you will realize how CHEAP commercial tubers are. Many of these dedicated dahlia growers reap pennies on their labor hour. Please consider preserving your tubers for your Dahlia Society of California to sell as your donation to better dahlias for everyone. Do contact your fellow DCSers to negotiate trades BEFORE our sale.
As I contemplate our new year, our new round of the Cycle of Dahlias, I meditate on Bob Papp’s question: Should I say I have grown dahlias for 30 years or that I have grown dahlias for a year 30 different ways?”
Yours in dirt,
Photo Credits: Agne, Bergman, Boley, Bradley, Capps, Cook, Demeter, Dietz, Fischer, Glasner, Parshall, Penttila, Ryan, Santose, Spencer, Thomas
Membership and Layout Genius: Devorah
Snail Mail Benefactress: Pat