3Splitz Farm

Pumped About Clumps

Flower blooming season has wound down. But the work of flowers goes on year round. Every season has its special brand of planning, reaping, and sowing.

I had never really even heard of dahlias until we dove in head first to flower farming. They were prissy. Expensive. Fussy. Temperamental. But oh, what beauties. One of my partners wanted dahlias, so off we went into the world of tubers. Why tubers? Some plants grow from bulbs, but dahlias emerge from tubers. We ordered them from several US growers. I’m a sucker for a good name, so I ordered some based on their clever names…Chick-a-dee for the 2 Chicks, for example. Others I ordered based on interesting photos or descriptions. And Cafe au Lait, the “Queen of Dahlias,” seemed like a must-have.

We put them in the ground according to the specific directions. Waited to water them. Watched and watched. The zinnias were already well on their way, for months even, when the dahlias first started to bloom. They were just as promised, unusual and exquisite. Colorful and intricate. They were worth the wait. Even the Queen lived up to her royal hype.

Their fussiness doesn’t end when they stop blooming. If you want to keep multiplying your plants, you can dig up the tubers and, with a little luck, they can be divided into multiple tubers which will each grow into a new plant the following year.

I waited until after frost, cut them back, then held my breath as I tried to dig up the tubers. Tubers are delicate things so it was a bit of a process to find and lift them without breaking them.

Voila! I was pretty giddy as I lifted the earth attached to each stem. Up came clump after clump after clump of tubers. From 22 plants last year to maybe 50 or 60 next year, plus new varieties we will add. It’s so exciting! Each clump felt like a small victory.

Keeping the tubers healthy is another stage of tricky. Right now they are air drying before we will move them to more permanent storage. Then we will wait a few months before we divide and plant again.

Another example of learning in action from the flower field.

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