Dahlia Society of California
                                                    December, 2003


NEXT MEETING:  Tuesday, December 9th 2003  -  CHRISTMAS PARTY!!!  Happy Hour 6:30 PM : Dinner 7 PM.  Your benevolent society will provide Ham, Drinks, Plates, and Utensils.  Please bring something scrumptious to share with everyone as well as a wrapped gift relating to dahlia growing (@$10).  In the past, the most “stolen items” included a hand-blown glass vase, hand-made tool caddy, hand- made dividing pouch, basket of planted bulbs & framed original dahlia photo.

  Lou Paradise adjured processing one clump at a time.  BEFORE you dig up, make sure your plant bears a label.  DIGGING:  Shovel a 1’ radius circle STRAIGHT DOWN around your plant.  This severs any extended roots.  Using opposable shovels or forks or a combination of both, gently jimmy up the root mass.  DO NOT extricate by pulling up on the neck or stalk portion—this could break several necks.  Rather, scoop under the clump with your hands.  An alternative method, is digging a moat around the clump so you know how far the tubers extend.  I often scrape away dirt on top to expose the heads of the tubers, too.  Place your root jumble on a screen (Dick favors the metal holey frame of an ironing board) to give support as you GENTLY spray off. Too much water pressure peels the tubers like dinner spuds.  The eyes show best at this point and disappear after 24 hours. 

DIVIDING:  Lou demonstrated his full armamentarium:  a sharp, stiff knife, not his best clippers, small hammer, scissors, wood block for tuber support & cutting board. Lou recommends a “canning” knife which several members think can be purchased at Cole Hardware, at Cole, Mission or 4th.   I also employ a couple of chisels & loppers.  Lou wraps his thumbs in adhesive tape(a band-aid) to protect them from slippery knives before latex gloving.  Remove the stalk close to but not including the crown whence all tubers stem.  If you are blessed with a massive gnarly cluster, try cleaving it in half to make it more manageable.  Exercise judgment:  leave hard-to-separate tubers together in groups of 2-4.  Toss the mother tuber (last year’s starter root).  Remember, any broken neck invalidates the entire tuber—no matter how large or how many eyes it has.  For certain very delicate cultivars, Sok has been observed dividing right in the ground.  Pop your divided roots in a 5-10% bleach bath for 5-10 minutes.  Dip the exposed edges in a fungicide like Captan or Terachlor. 

LABEL IMMEDIATELY.  The remarkable Bottle of Ink in a Pencil #705,  writes on damp surfaces only.  Lou showed us the mother tuber with her name still legible a season later!  Elsie will have pencils available for purchase at the January meeting.  STORAGE:  Let your  tubers dry for a couple days   -   wet tubers will rot.     Lou has been experimenting with different media for storage:  vermiculite  (available at Home Depot—request only the large grain not the fine), shredded newspaper, & his latest find, pine bedding from pet stores.  Use plastic bags, cardboard boxes or wooden crates.  Do not let your tubers touch one another during storage—rot spreads!    

 Baker Bill has bags of milk cartons already cut and stapled and will bring them to the Christmas party for anyone who requests them. Please call. 650-871-7200.

PACIFIC SOUTH-WEST DAHLIA CONFERENCE - 2004: On Presidents’ Day Weekend (FEBRUARY 14 (Sat)& 15 (Sun)), in MILPITAS.  Each year members from all the Dahlia Societies in California come together for 2 days to discuss whence and whither dahliadom.  You will be able to personally discuss dahlia problems with our keynote speaker DAVE  SPENCER, direct from his Dahlia Nursery in England. He has been writing a very informative article in the ‘Dahlias of Today’ magazine every year since 1982, entitled ‘What’s New in Britain’.   

This is a great opportunity to meet bloomerati, learn about different growing climates, garner innovative solutions & make suggestions.  Once every 7 years we (Dahlia Society of California) host this confabulation.  For this major undertaking we need your help.  The Chairperson of the Raffle is in charge of soliciting & housing donations for the raffle, which offsets the cost of our program.  In the past, the Raffle Meister solicited fertilizer, chemicals & tools from various garden and home improvement stores.   The Raffle shopper uses DSC funds to purchase BIG items for a special raffle ticket table.  I shall solicit various commercial growers for catalog gift certificates.  Thank-you to the one person who already volunteered to check participants in, but we still need another to help with registration on site Saturday morning. 

Someone needs to be in charge of Reservations:  disseminating to the other societies information as to where, when, how $ much, and banquet reservations as well as keeping track of who has registered and who has paid.  Someone needs to co-ordinate “goodie bags” for each participant.  Please contact Lou Cornish 415.388.1671 or Elsie Mueller 415.566.5222.  Do you have anything to donate to the raffle?  Lovely bottles of wine, beautiful growing orchid plants, dahlia containers with frogs, ??  Let your imagination loose — but everything should be good (not garage sale) quality.    

DAUNTING DECEMBER:  We are lopping everything in my section of the Dell the first Saturday in Dec.  That will give the tubers 8 weeks to toughen their skins & go dormant before DigOut. Depending on how well your soil drains and whether you have a frost, you can dig out anytime between now and the end of March.  As soon as your clumps are up, begin spreading compost lavishly.  Chicken manure is HOT, but ok if you are leaving the area fallow for a few weeks at least.  Some people plant a cover crop of vetch or fava beans which nitrogenate the soil as well as covering the ugly brown patch.  Order a free SF Gardener calendar: (415)  695-7375 or online. Catalogs are starting to arrive.  Tempt yourself with something wonderful.  Shop for your party gift and rifle the cookbooks to surprise your fellow Dahlia Society members.

Some months we enjoy a bounty of treats for our meeting & some months we starve through a dearth.  Please sign up with Baker Bill at the Christmas Party re bringing refreshments for Jan. Feb. March, etc.    With this, we hope to even out your generosity.   

Happy Holidays to all Dahlia lovers.

We wish you a fabulous dahlia-growing
season in 2004.

Yours in Dirt,

Lou delivering his Annual Tuber Lecture

Eager Diane asking a thoughtful question
The Eyes Have It

There is the EYE!
Dividing armamentarium!

25 years' experience behind this cut

Mina seeking advise from Lou

Handful of food for next year growth

Writing with "A bottle of ink in a pencil"

:     If you have not yet paid your 2004 dues, please make a check payable to Dahlia Society of California, send to Ron Dingwall, 111 Lehman Lane, Mill Valley, CA  94941. You can click here to get an online PDF form to update your member information

Click for the online version of
December, 2003 eNewsletter.


   Monthly eNewsletter of Dahlia Society of California, Inc., San Francisco, CA
   Editor: Deborah Dietz
    Please address your editorial questions to Deborah.Dietz@sfdahlias.org
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