Monday, October 29, 2012

Chopping Down the Dahlias

It's the last weekend in October and that can only mean one thing - it's time to begin cleaning up the dahlia garden. This is the weekend that I always begin this process but it seems early this year. The dahlia garden hasn't been hit with a killing frost yet  and I didn't finish planting this garden until the middle of July. Because of both of those circumstances, from a far the garden still looks lovely.

However, up-close is a different story. We have had quite a few heavy rains the last 10 days. The weight of the water had snapped at least 50% of the blooms. Although the plants are still covered in buds, the rains are preventing me from getting any blooms worth harvesting.

I started chopping down the four rows that were the first four rows that I planted back in July. These tubers have been in the ground the longest. The clumps should be large and fully mature by this time. I left a stalk on each plant about 5" high and covered it with tin foil. This prevents the rain from falling down the hollow stalk and collecting on the crown. By chopping down the plants today, I have sent the tubers the same signal that they would receive with a killing frost. They now "know" that the growing year is over. They will cure in the ground for the next week and will be ready to lift and store. Also the tuber eyes will begin to swell over the next week. This will make my cutting much easier when I am dividing up the clumps into individual tubers next weekend.

Ta-da! The first four rows cut down and curing. Next weekend they will be the first tubers to be dug.

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