I was evidently wrong when I opined that the dahlias wouldn’t take any harm if they waited for another week. I skipped out of the office on Friday night saying, “the dahlias are calling to me”; but when I got home and opened the box of tuber from Swan Dahlias, I saw a problem. The tubers were bagged together and had started growing. Many of them had long, ropey roots looping around the outside of the plastic bag. And the general rule is that dahlia roots don’t like to be disturbed.
I had planned on helping out at the Lancaster Garden Club Plant Sale Saturday (sorry friends) and maybe doing a little prep work, but most of the planting on Sunday. However, this was something that needed immediate attention.
Up at five, I quickly worked in another barrow of composted wood chips and placed the tubers and plants on top of the beds before the sun hit them. Then worked as fast as I could digging in the tubers and then the plants.
The plants are from Corralitos Gardens and I had missed the fact that I was actually buying plants. They’d looked pretty ratty when I took them out of their shipping package. Probably my fault because I hadn’t opened them the day they arrived. I was able to nurse almost all of them back to health, losing only one Harvey Koop and one of the bonus plants. Sad about Harvey as he was one of the biggest reasons for that order. It was named by/for the father of the woman who owns Hamilton Dahlia Farm that I visited in Michigan last year. I’d ordered two and the second one is still alive, although the weakest of the remaining plants. Fingers crossed for Harvey.
It was a little awkward to work with the mix of tubers and plants. They had different requirements for planting. But it will be interesting to compare performance in my garden. Some things I did differently this year:
- Didn’t start tubers in pots. There were just too many and the tubers I direct planted last year were only a week or two behind when they blossomed.
- Didn’t water in– the tubers, anyway. Plants I treated like tomatoes. I’ve come to respect how little water they need as evidenced by the way they sprout vigorously, wrapped in newspaper; or plastic for that matter.
- The holes for the tubers are deeper than last year, 4-5″ and I’ve filled them in only part way. I’ll add dirt as I see the sprouts peek through.
One thing that made the task go quickly was the uncharacteristic planning work that I had done. With this many colors and sizes, I needed to be organized. All of my orders were documented in a spreadsheet where I captured key characteristics: height, bloom type, color and more. Then I used Visio to create a rough map of where I would put the dahlias, using cut-and-pasted pictures from the sellers. I had to make a few adjustments while planting because of bonus plants and plants from last year that I wanted to use, but having this Visio made the job go much faster. And it’s sorta pretty.