Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Even Colder Night #2

Last night the official low at the airport was 27 degrees. We had a reading before dawn of 29 degrees at our house. As you can see, the extra three degree drop in the temperature finished off my dahlias. They are a pretty sad looking lot now. The good news is I can proceed now with my digging and dividing without feeling guilty about cutting down blooming dahlia plants! Tonight after work I went down to the garden and cut down my first three rows. It was a quick and easy task. Since we haven't had any rain for over two weeks, the ground is nice and dry. I can't believe that I am chopping down the dahlias and I don't have mud sticking to the bottom of my shoes. The dahlias plants are also really easy to work with right now. The frost has essential "freeze-dried" the plants. They are dry, light and easy to carry off to the burn pile. Clean up has never been this easy - seriously! I'm just not used to these easy working conditions.

Here's two rows after I was done. I left about 4" of stem above the ground on each plant. This gives me a nice handle to hold as I gently lift the tubers and a good place to wrap the name tag around as it is carried home. I will let these tubers rest in the ground until Sunday before I dig them up. This will give the tubers time to be "shocked' that the plants are dead ( or in this case cut off). The tubers will immediately begin to harden off and cure underground. The eyes on the individual tubers will also begin to swell. When I dig the tubers on Sunday it will be much easier to see where I should make my cuts and the tubers should store over winter better as well. I have fifteen rows of dahlias this year. My goal is to dig 3 rows every weekend and then wash, divide and label the tubers from those plants during the following weeknights. Sticking to this schedule I will finish digging on Thanksgiving Weekend. Wish me luck!

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