Thursday, 16 July 2009

Thursdays favourite plant


In the past I've never been to fussy about having dahlias but the last 2 years I've fallen head over heels for them. Now I must admit last years efforts were a bit rubbish. I didn't stake them, they got slug and earwig damage and the tubers/plants I picked weren't as good looking as the pictures on the packets. But that's one of the things I love most about gardening, there is always something to learn.
So this year I bought 1 tuber Black Narcissi (and a stack of lilies).

So I've learnt that if you plant them in march in a container of compost somewhere warm like a greenhouse or shed they will come up quicker and stronger, and you can take stem cutting to increase you stock (I didn't get round to that).
Plant them out when the frost are safely behind you, and don't forget to stake them with some twigs or canes. I managed to keep the slugs away but as you can see an earwig has had a little nibble. I remember my grandad (who used to grow them on the edge of his allotment) using a plant pot stuffed with straw stuck up on a cane to catch the earwigs. They'd hide in there during the day and could be easily dispatched with.

The next thing is what to do during the winter. You can either wait for the frosts to blacken off the stems. Then dig them up hang the rootstock upside down to let any moisture drain away, then store them somewhere frost free and warm (spare room, shed, kitchen cupboard!!!) in a pot of damp sand or old compost, till next spring. Or you can leave them in the ground but give them a really thick mulch to protect the from frost. If you live in the south I'd say leaving them in the ground would be fine but if you live further up north I'd dig them up.

Next year I'll grow a lot more for cut flowers and plant them around the edges of my veg patch (if I have room).

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