The temperatures outside this past week have been brutal. We shattered some records for earliest low temperatures going -14 degrees several nights.
It's almost surreal to think just a week ago it was still in the 70's & I was out digging dahlia tubers!
Above: Dahlia 'Honka Surprise'
I usually let the Dahlias get lightly frosted (at least once but hopefully) several times before lifting the tubers from their containers or the ground.
If the weather cooperates, I temporarily store the freshly dug tubers in the garage while they dry out a bit.
This year, I had to bring them directly into the house because my garage is not insulated and the below zero temperatures would have killed them.
Above: Dahlia 'Floorinoor'
Once dug, I cut off the blackened foliage an inch or two above the tubers and "tag" them so I know which tuber is which.
After the tubers have dried, the excess soil can be shaken off & the name of the dahlia can be written directly onto the tubers.
Some people divide the tubers at this point. I've had better results waiting until spring so I overwinter mine as a whole. Whichever method you prefer, I've always read (and been told) to discard the "parent" tuber and keep the new "babies."
Now that we've dug the tubers, dried them, divided or not, we're ready to store them. As with most things there are various methods. I pick a box or other container, add some slightly moistened peat to the bottom, nestle the tubers into the peat then cover with more peat. Some people prefer shredded newspaper to peat. My Mom puts them in a paper bag in her refrigerator!
Whatever you decide, now comes the trickiest part of getting them thru the winter ~ making sure they stay moist enough to survive but aren't overly wet where they'll rot.
They also need to be in a cool (above freezing) place, preferrably between 40 - 50 degrees, which for me is my unfinished basement.
After they're placed there, check on them about once a month to make sure they aren't drying out (shriveling up) or rotting. If your storage material is not overly wet to start with, drying out should be more of a problem than rotting. Spritz the surrounding peat (or other packing material) with water and you're good for another month. If one of your tubers does happen to be rotting, you should cut the rotten part off so you can save what's left & prevent the rot from spreading.
Hopefully by March or April, they've all survived and are ready to be potted up again for another season of enjoyment.
Meanwhile back to current reality, there was a beautiful Red Fox Squirrel frequenting the garden during the deep freeze this past week.
He/she was polite enough to pose atop the arbor.
Pretty picturesque framed amidst the rose hips.
A perfect complement to his coat!
I imagine creatures of every form will be happier this week as temperatures are supposed to moderate.
Still below "average" but after last week, even the smallest reprieve will be greatly appreciated...