To see the full original newsletter with all the photos click here to get the pdf: May 2015 Newsletter
NEXT MEETING: May 12 @ 7:30 @ 9th and Lincoln
Program: Erik Gaensler delivers his slide program following a year of dahlias replete with great pix and entertaining stories. Bring your friends, fellow gardeners, relatives and neighbors. FREE. We will have more phenomenal dahlia plants and tubers that matured since our amazing tuber sale. Come buy more to fill in the gaps in your garden. Who will bring yummies to share?
FT. KNOX DAHLIA POTS
Tinnee grows award-winning dahlias on the hillside in Golden Gate Park. All around her marauding, voracious gophers search out food food food. To protect her beauties, Tinnee designed cages to protect her tubers from eating beasties.
Tinnee recommends laying out your tools in advance: hardware cloth, heavy-duty wire cutters, leather gloves, measuring tape, zip lock ties, and big rocks. Yes, rocks. Hardware cloth comes wound up, so the rocks help to keep it flat for cutting. Otherwise it rebounds and bites; hardware cloth scratches are nasty. Add 3” to your depth, somewhere between 7-11” because on the bottom you cut 3” slits which you fold towards the center. Also cut a square of separate hardware cloth about the size of the bottom of your cylinder. Form your long sheet of hardware cloth into a tube with a diameter of 8-12.” Close with 3 zip ties.
For planting, dig your hole, lay down the square hardware cloth; place your cylinder over the square; refill halfway with soil; inter your plant or tuber and fill the rest of the way. Note: 1-2” of cage should be above ground level just to thwart enterprising gophers who might try an overland invasion. In the winter when you dig them out, just cutting the zip ties liberates your tuber clump. If an enthusiastic tuber sticks through a couple holes, just run water through the cage and it will come clean. Another nifty aspect of this brilliant design is that several cages can be stored by flattening out the hardware cloth and stacking until next planting. Check out the April 2014 DSC newsletter where Valeria gives a demonstration about fabricating this same design.
GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS
Wow! What incredible cuttings Devi and Tinnee brought: Hapet Blue Eyes, Christie Dancer, AC Rooster, Hilltop St. Charles, Fancy Pants, Belle of the Ball, Skipley Mello Yello, Hapet Glamour and Amulet amongst others. Deborah hefted in milk cartoons with Show ‘n Tell, Juul’s Lotus and Woodlands Wildthing.
Ron and Joann crated in several BOXES of lemons. Tinnee also donated a package of chocolate chip cookies to go with Gino’s glazed doughnuts. John offered us brownie bites and Lola tempted us with pastry and macaroons. Frank donated muffin bites. Baker Bill delighted all with a sumptuous carrot cake with sinful frosting.
Pat returned from spring training in Tucson to weed her whole section and set out stakes. Whoof. Major effort. Lou has staked and planted most of his plot; the Dancing Girls have sunk their gopher cages. Deborah has over sixty plants up, having left them in during our dry winter; she’s hoping for first blooms early in May. Billy dropped by to plant 18 beauties from our sale. We love volunteer help. Deborah reminds DSC members, that she usually tends her patch on Saturday mornings. Anyone interested in helping out, should pop by. BTW, Philip and Marilyn already have Pam Howden and Lakeview Glow blooming brightly in their City garden. Amazing.
Good news and Bad news. We had more choices of phenomenally high ranking cultivars than ever before. We had half the back wall filled with AA’s alone. Members brought beautiful tubers including Gitts Crazy, Dikara Moon, Nick Sr., Mingus Julie, and Pooh. Two local radio stations ran public service snips about our sale and several gardening newsletters included our blurb. Hundreds of emails touted this opportunity to buy competition quality dahlias. Devi’s beautiful poster circulated on several social media sites.
Nevertheless, the specter of the drought and expensive water shadowed our event. We had fewer customers buying fewer specimens. Still, we earned enough to throw a major Floribunda! in August and still award the best ribbons and the mo$t prizes. Heartfelt thanks to Soc and Tony for trucking over 1200 color-coded cuttings to the courtyard on Friday. Thanks to Vince, Deborah, and Tinnee for helping organize them all according to General Paradise’s instructions. DSC expresses major appreciation to all who arrived BEFORE 8 am. You knew your jobs and fell to with efficiency and good will. When Deborah sounded the “Shopping” gong, a feeding frenzy ensued.
Joe and Paula artfully innovated cash boxes from shoe boxes. Counters Patrice, very pregnant Jackie, and Dan used the excellent forms Frank devised. These served as totals, receipts, and exit passes. Nathan will crunch the numbers soon. Both Deborah and Erik gave brief pep talks to the eager buyers outside. Realizing that we needed something to galvanize passerby’s interest, enterprising Nick and his pal Alexander put up a “lemonade stand” style dahlia table on the sidewalk and steered the curious into our building. Clever customers snapped pix of Devi’s framed photographs as record of the names and types of plants they purchased. Good idea. Someone showed DJ the list of dahlias he hoped to buy beginning with one called “Chris Dix.” DJ explained that Chris is a hybridizer in the East Bay and not the name of an individual dahlia. Scott bought a flat of dahlias and then went back and bought some more.
Surgeon General’s warning: Careful, dahlias can be addicting.
We rewarded all our work with a fine potluck lunch. People went back for seconds of Dan and Billy’s macaroni salad; Deborah’s ham ‘n yams casserole disappeared. We had to choose amongst Devi’s poppy bunt cake, Mike’s rice crispy treats, Scott’s peanut brittle, and brownies; some just tried them all. Major thanks to Dan and Billy for leading the charge to dismantle tables. Thanks to Lou for the drinks and alllllllll the box bottoms, or “shopping carts” as Mike called them. Thanks to Lola for the shoe boxes for customers needing a little extra support.
TUBER WARS – Thoughts from Mike Shelp
As I removed my tuber clumps from the ground this year, I noticed for the first time many rotted tubers and tubers that looked like the surface had been eaten. Per Joey Romeo at Romeo Packing in Half Moon Bay, it appeared that the damage was being done by maggots, wormy creatures and other underworld pests. Joey suggested an appropriate soil drenching product was in order. On reflecting, I realized I had made a change last year from liquid “Tree and Shrub” concentrate to the small pellet form.
Per Joey, the active ingredient in “Tree and Shrub” is Imidaclopid. When used in pellet form, the ingredient is dispersed in the soil in little pockets that the roots can eventually take in as a systemic. However, this dispersal method may not provide a strong enough dose at one time to rid the soil of the netherworld pests that do our beloved plants harm.
While I cannot be absolutely certain that the liquid form of “Tree and Shrub” will bring me back to healthier tubers next year (too many possible other variables), the rationale seems highly plausible. Sometimes change is good and sometimes not. Either way it’s always a learning lesson. The change back to liquid is going into effect immediately and hopefully my tuber friends will be much happier next year.
LA BLOOMERATI WALKABOUT
Bob Papp, president of the LA dahlia contingent, ventured up North. First he commented about crossing our new Bay Bridge. John showed him his greenhouse where he keeps tubers crowns up growing in hospital basins. John cuts 2-4” sprouts off the tuber and plugs them into a massive grid of oasis triangles. After rooting into the oasis, they go into 4×4” plastic containers with a bunch of others in black flats atop raised tables to try to keep them away from snails.
But John grows PHD snails and slugs as well as chickens. While John’s two German Shepard dogs chase red squirrels and gophers, they are inattentive about slugs. Usually John’s patch is mostly under a magnificent canopy of sunshade, but the recent high winds tore that asunder. Really special things that need more sun and protection begin their matriculation under his coldframe. All these things benefit from the wonderful worm castings from his elevated worm bin. Who knew there were so many ingenious uses for wine barrels?
The second day, Bob got to try out the new tunnel that obviates Devil’s Slide on Hwy One down to Half Moon Bay. Mike Schelp demonstrated how he does NOT dig out; he tips over. What huge and beautiful root masses Mike’s special blend of milk crate potting soil produces! Thanks to Schelp generosity visitors to the Long Beach VA, the LA Metropolitan Institution, the Orange County Fair, and the Pacific Palisades Botanical Gardens will gasp at AC AU, Rebecca’s World, Clear View Debbie, Woodland’s Merinda and Lover Boy. Great to share in the cross-pollination of ideas and methods and roots.
MAY the Force be with your Dahlias
Your dahlias should be emerging from the dirt now. Make sure you have snail and earwig bait out, or your cuttings will just become expensive salad. Remember that tubers should have NO water until you can see a sprout because they have no roots so they cannot absorb moisture; but cuttings need a little water every day because they have fine tiny roots. If you choose drip irrigation, use the emitters which you can dial up or down for the amount of flow. In this drought, drip systems maximize the amount of water that goes directly to your dahlia and not anywhere extraneous. You can customize the amount of precious water for each individual dahlia’s need.
When your plants reach about three weeks old, spray them with a cocktail of fungicide, insecticide, and fertilizer. Kristine Albrect, growing completely organically, uses Captain Jack’s Dead Bug, and Seranade. Treat mildew NOW before you ever see it, or it’s almost too late. A lot of people are raising worms so they can spray their dahlias with compost tea. Supposedly this is good for only about 24 hours, so it’s convenient to brew your own. Make sure all your dahlias are labeled NOW. If gophers harass your garden, be sure to plant in cages or use above-ground milk crates like Mike and Martha do. Since they plant in a huge pasture in Half Moon Bay, they doubly insure against gopher depredation by putting a sheet of hardward cloth underneath their plastic milk crate. To pinch or not to pinch? Pinching or Stopping is done to cause your dahlia to make more roots and put out more laterals. Many people pinch out the top when there are four sets of leaves. Some people pot these little clipped off fragments and use them as insurance pot roots. I wait until I see the beginning of a first bud. Then I take the first bud, the two buds at the central bud’s sides and the two leaves below these. I know we all have waited six months to see our first blooms and that this feels awful. So if you want to practice, stop by the Dell on Saturday and help me pinch out mine. Then it’s easier to go home and do yours, too.
Yours in Dirt,
Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA — Copyrighted
Editor: Deborah Dietz
Page layout: Mike Willmarth
Photo credits: Carraher, Dietz, Lee
In San Francisco
the Dahlia was adopted as the
Official Flower of San Francisco
on October 4, 1926
by its Board of Supervisors