To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: June 2023 Newsletter
13 JUNE @7:30 at 9th and Lincoln. Program: videos from Portland about their National Show in August. Dahlia Cocktail recipes. Bring your favorite Dahlia Cocktail additives for Show and Tell. Please bring any leftover tubers, cuttings or plants for our final $ale. Who will bring summer treats for hungry gardeners?
Deborah led us through a pictographic review of an entire year of growing dahlias. We learned about cats trained to catch gophers, above ground dahlia growing, and Hortanova netting instead of stakes for supporting our favorite blooms. Tips on how to spot earwig devastation proved particularly timely. (Earwigs have been around for eons; they do not die easily.) We learned how to escalate from rolled wet newspapers, Sluggo Plus, Captain Jack’s Dead Bug to BIG GUNS like Malathion and Seven. Grr! We broke attendance records in person and via Zoom, including outof-state and even out-of-country (Australia!) participants. Thank you especially to our Tech Maven, Laura!
TUBERS, CUTTINGS AND PLANTS, OH MY!
Tinnee and Pat brought the last of the greenhouse cuttings and pot roots with photos! Deborah, Maggie and Lucy offered lovely plants in yogurt containers and milk cartons. Jeannie brought a whole clump of Taratahi Sunrise ( a New Zealand introduction). Steve sold Tshirts, all of the profits of which will go to our DSC. (Note: the first one to a DSC member is only $12; the subsequent ones are $20.) Contact Steve: Parlando17@sbcglobal.net. Joe, our treasurer, smiled his very green $mile.
Thank you to Pat for the nuts and to Kathi for her insane Insomnia Cookies. Bridget baked us cupcakes. Jaqueline and Ron shared pastries. Erik via Jenna donated chocolate wafer cookies—MMM! Thank you all for slating the goodie urges of your fellow gardeners.
HERE COME D-JUDGES!
DSC hosts this year’s judging school on Saturday, July 22, 9 AM to 4:40 PM. Lakeside Presbyterian Church, 201 Eucalyptus Drive, San Francisco, CA 94132-1514. Who can/should attend this? Anyone interested in digging a little deeper into dahlia lore and lingo (bract? picotee?) should sign up. Of course if you plan to show, this is essential! If you plan to clerk, this would greatly boost your understanding of forms, colors, and aesthetics. California needs more dahlia judges; we have lost valuable senior judges and need to restock with fresh new minds—please!! This is so important: you do NOT PAY for this seminar. Your benevolent DSC will pay your tuition which also covers snacks, beverages and lunch!! Please email our Membership Chair, Debbie, that you intend to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org We need to keep track for seating and food.
Even though Billy and Dan have moved to Portland, we are proud that they have both become candidate judges and will help out at the National Show in Portland, Oregon, Aug. 24-28.
PACIFIC SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE: HOW CAN YOU HELP?
DSC hosts the PSW Conference next February. We need a lot of help. There’s various committees: Raffle (headed by Jenna), swag bag (needing a chair), Food (needing a leader), Poster design and so many other aspects. Please contact Erik email@example.com or Deborah firstname.lastname@example.org or Jenna email@example.com to get on board. Please VOLUNTEER TO HELP! A brilliant conference starts with monthly strategy zoom meetings.
Jane Foster designs dahlia fabric, dahlia dresses, dahlia blouses, dahlia bags and soon, dahlia aprons. How did this happen? What circuitous set of connections stimulated her creations? Her friend, Cathy, in Marin dazzled her with a dahlia. Cathy found out that Erik G had put up a basket of dahlia tubers for auction at a charity event. Cathy’s doctor husband trained Erik way back. So the fix was in. Cathy gifted Jane with the auctioned loot right before Covid lowered the boom. Jane’s raised beds produced such fantastic blooms. “I was so excited,” Jane exclaimed. She started photographing dahlias, then drawing them, then designing them into fabrics, 4 designs of which can be ordered as yardage from Bloomflower.com. Jane has been teaching sewing and design for 30 years. Presently she holds class in her design studio in Walnut Creek three mornings a week. Check out her website: firstname.lastname@example.org
SEED TO BLOOM
Kristine Albrecht has written a new book illustrated by lush photos and YouTube video tutorials from her husband Brion Sprinsock on all aspects of growing. The title says it all: Seed to Bloom. So many followers asked interesting questions prompted by Kristine’s instagram santacruzdahlias, that she felt inspired to compillate her answers. Kristine writes, “ Our new book features nine dahlia growers from seven countries to share how they grow in different climates with different soil and different goals for our plants.” Kristine’s book could have been ordered on Amazon for $24.99 until the beginning of May, but now it’s bumped up to $30.
Curtis has just mulched his dahlia plot at Lakeside Gardens in Oakland. “I’ve been a long-time believer in mulch. It prevents weeds, helps contain moisture in the ground, and over a season, composts into the soil, amending it for the next growing season. Remember the mantra of the soil management expert who presented at the conference in February? COMPOST, COMPOST, COMPOST. And MULCH, MULCH, MULCH.
When growing in my backyard at home, I used leaves and grass clippings—excellent mulch. Growing at Lake Merritt, I needed to buy something. I like Alfalfa because it is full of nitrogen, fertilizing during the season as well as providing the benefits of mulch. Some folks like to use rice straw, which works very well as mulch but does not provide the soil nutrients. I have not noticed much increase in bugs compared to not mulching. Could be, but certainly not in a significant way in my experience.”
On the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 PDT, Dan Baulig of the Portland Dahlia Society hosts an interactive Zoom discussion group, Dahlia Talk. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87070954664? pwd=OUhWOG90UUpHNENiMU5sWHZpczFEdz09
People from all over the world participate. Some people ask dahlia questions and some people proffer their dahlia solutions. Dan often invites guest speakers to share mini-seminars on seed starting, making cuttings, potting up tubers, storage, etc. It’s a great way to learn new things, meet new growers, commiserate and crow with pride. Check it out.
HARDWARE OR DAHLIAWARE?
Look what Jenna found at Ace Hardware!
Lou has planted his mathematically precise rows. His tiny sprigs seem to double in size each a week. Erik and Joe have both sunk their gopher cages and planted. Sue’s section is really bushing up magnificently. Sarah’s milk cartons at home will soon be transported in her wagon to the Dell for planting. Sarah’s sophomore Elvira wins FIRST BLOOM distinction. Pat and Tinnee have welcomed Jerry’s help hauling, weeding, digging, dividing and planting, even when it drizzles. LeQuin has waged a war on weeds both on the hillside and in the teardrop. Wage on! Thanks to Brigid, Karen and Tara for helping Deborah field-dress several of her sophomore clumps which burst forth too many stems! The team looked for the weakest and thinnest sprouts, dug their fingers down to the tuber and jiggled and jimmied them out, potting them up in 1x1x3’s and 4×4’s. Karen raved about Dahlias by Julie. “Beautiful tubers with excellent eyes.”
Wow! Dahlia patches change every day now. I am still field dressing some of my sophomore plants which have produced sooooo many (tooooo many) shoots. So I am taking out the weaker excess and popping them into cutting pots in the greenhouse and adding a little (1 Tablespoon) Dr. Earth Flower Girl fertilizer to what portion remains in the ground. Some particularly prolific plants get divided in thirds. One third stays in the Dell; the other two clumps go into 2 1-gallon pots for insurance (and sales). Many people are delighted to see so many new sprigs erupt; however, these will all be competing for nutrients, water and light. NOT GOOD. Better to be able to cosset just 2 (alright, maybe 3) stalks. Every year I try to discipline myself to eradicate all but 2 (or 3) stalks per clump. It’s soo hard to choose.
Lauren ruefully acknowledged that last year he used venetian blind strips and wrote impermeable Sharpie names; alas, they faded and he now has mystery tubers. Sometimes low tech is best tech: PENCIL! I label with pencil. It lasts for years! Please send me pictures of your labels if you use something else and I’ll share it with the greater DSC. John Morton loves his metallic labels clanging on his metallic rebar stakes. He thinks it helps keep the birds and gophers at bay. Remember to make a map and keep an XL spread sheet just in case.
Many of you use drip systems. I recommend the emitters which you can hand regulate. They can be set at limited water right now as your dahlias are taking off and then gradually be turned up as your plants’ needs grow. Remember, your dahlias will tell you when they need water; they will slightly wilt. They like to be deeply watered and then to slightly dry out, forcing their roots just a little deeper.
PINCHING OUT, STOPPING, TOPPING
All these phrases mean the same thing: removing the apical top of a plant to send the excess energy into establishing better roots and stems. Some growers do this as soon as their plant has 5 sets of leaves; others wait until they see the glimmer of the first bud. I like to stop my leggy plants when they come out of the greenhouse where they have been reaching for the light. If it’s a rarer variety, I snip, leaving the top set of two leaf pairs so I can root the snipped portion to begin a new plant. If you want to be absolutely certain you are stopping in the right place, wait until you see a bud beginning. Usually, there will be a main bud accompanied by two little budlets on either side and a pair of leaves. Cut below this accompanying pair of leaves where two new sprouts should be forming. This main bud, 2 budlets, and 2 leaves cannot be rooted into a new plant. All the energy from this amputated piece will go into building better roots and stronger blooms in the future.
Some of us have already had the pleasure of disbudding, removing all but the central bud on a stem, thereby sending all that energy that would have pumped out two more scrawnier blossoms into just one glorious one. Years ago, my volunteer’s beau came to help. This massive man, a baker, had massive hands and huge sausage-like fingers. Nevertheless, he disbudded with gentle deftness and seemed to zone out. He returned without his sweetheart, saying, “I NEED to disbud some more.” Yes, disbudding can be meditative or even addicting.
Using my new electric sprayer, I dosed my entire section at the Dell in less than an hour. Every time I mix a dahlia cocktail, I reevaluate what my patch needs. Here is my recipe for my first spraying: Captain Jack’s Deadbug (for chewing insects including earwigs) Diluted Stylet Oil (to prevent mildew Diluted liquid fertilizer (to promote growth) A teaspoon of baking soda (to change leaf ph and thwart mildew) A squirt of dishwashing soap (to act as a sticker and keep most of the spray on the leaves) I am still putting some Sluggo Plus around specific dahlias which seem to have attracted a host of tiny (1/2” or smaller) black/grey slugitos. Grrrrr. They have been munching my leaves into lace.
SOOOO MANY DAHLIA PLANTS
Due to too many atmospheric rivers and a lot of field dressing, I have so many potted up dahlia plants. They are for sale at the Dell on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Or for the best selection, come by the Maus Haus, get a tour of the greenhouse, meet Tessla and buy a bunch. Tell your friends.
Yours in dirt,
Photo credits: Dibner, Dietz, Foster, Gaensler, Kaiser, Maxwell, Shoemaker Webmaster: Payam Zoom artists: Laura and Sarah