The Gardener’s Corner

The Gardener’s Corner

Signs of spring bring thoughts of dahlias

Eric is getting in the mood for gardening as the snow melts and days lengthen

Some years back, I became interested in growing dahlias, but I was shocked at the price tag. So, I decided to find out if dahlias would be available as seeds and found a supplier.

When the seeds arrived, I only sowed half of them. Several weeks later, I had the excitement of having seventy-five Dahlia seedlings. It took them eight months to grow big enough to plant in the flower garden.

By the end of summer, they were the same size as sold at the garden centre. I don’t have all seventy-five Dahlias anymore due to lack of garden space.

The most challenging job with dahlias is getting them ready for storage before the winter. First, I let them dwindle after the first frost. Then I wait a few days before I cut the stems away, but leave about eight inches.

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On the first sunny day, I dig the tubers up to let the dirt dry. I have a frost-free area where I let them dry before storing them away in a peat-moss-filled box in the basement.

In the spring, when there is no possibility of frost, I plant the tubers in a large planter box in my unheated sun-room.

At this time, I divide the tubers. I place them close together and cover them with a mixture of peat moss and soil. I make sure they keep them slightly moist.

They will start setting sprouts in two weeks, but I don’t transfer them to the garden plot until the beginning of June. By starting them inside, I will have flowers several weeks earlier.

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In my garden, as soon the dahlias begin to grow, slugs arrive on the scene. They seem to come out for a midnight snack.

To stop this, I put a teaspoon of slug bait inside each small coffee can from which I have removed the bottoms and flattened them to about two inches.

Why do I do that? Because the slug bait doesn’t work if it gets wet from rain or watering. I do the same for my cauliflower.

When you have planted the dahlias, it is a good idea to hammer in four, two by one-inch support stakes, four feet high, a few inches from the tubers. Later I attach the string. It might appear those stakes are too long. My Dahlias grow to five feet tall.

Recently I was sitting outside enjoying the sun and my afternoon coffee. It was so nice to see the snow melting and some soil showing, which seemed to tell me it was time to do something.

Yes, it was very tempting to get the shovel out and start turning the dirt, but that has to wait, as I noticed the top of my fruit trees need to be trimmed before I spray them with lime sulphur, as the flower buds have started showing some activity.

Before I spray, I protect my fence with sheets of plastic.

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