What goes on to get our dahlias ready to be sent out to you.
We thoroughly check each individual tuber before we plant it in the ground on our property, with all our new varieties they are planted into pots.
We do tend to keep the not so good looking tubers for ourselves and send out the better ones for our orders. I personally prefer single smaller tuners over larger ones, I find the plants to be more vigorous and send out more shoots to grow tubers therefore drawing in more nutrients to the plant rather than taking in the nutrients from the large tuber. These are also easier to divide as there are less mother tubers amongst the newly formed tubers in each clump.
Over the flowering season we also grow our dahlias for cut flowers, these are regularly fertilised to encourage new blooms and also healthy vigorous growth not just above the soil but underneath also. We us natural fertilisers, we are not a fan of chemicals as so many of our flowers end up used for weddings and in peoples homes so will be touched numerous times.
We are vigilant about sterilising between plants as a precaution to avoid cross contamination of any possible diseases. This does make the process a lot slower but lessens the risk of cross contaminating our precious plants.
After the growing season has finished, (this is normally very abrupt for us here in Central Otago) we have a hard killing frost and this blackens all the plants. We generally leave the tubers in the ground a couple of weeks for the outer skin to harden off before digging. Then comes the BIG DIG. This is one of the bigger jobs on our farm and takes quite some time. Once everything is dug we normally wash, divide and store at the same time, this is due to storage space. Unfortunately over the last couple of seasons we have had very cold and damp winters which has caused a lot of rot issues. We have experimented last year with leaving some in their clumps with the dirt on, this has proven really effective so this will be the method we will use in the coming season. We would prefer to leave everything in the ground and dig in spring to divide but with our harsh winters this is just not possible.
The division of the tubers is the biggest job when dealing with dahlias for sale. Being careful to make sure each kept tuber has eyes and is correctly labeled along with the continual use of snips and secateurs makes it quite a tedious job. We will individually package each tuber that is to be sold.
See below a bit more detail on what happens on our farm