In many areas of the country lifting is not so much of an option as it is an essential part of garden maintenance. In my part of the world, however, you could probably get away with a deep mulch of organic matter and a large dollop of hope. Last winter, of course, was the exception to this otherwise carefree approach and the lingering seed of doubt that was sown begs the question - to store or not to store?
To lift your Dahlias, simply wait for the first frosts to blacken the leaves, cut down all top growth to around 15cm (6 inches) and lift the tubers carefully with a fork. The cut foliage can then be added to the compost bin. Remove all loose soil and fine roots from the tubers and place them upside down, with the stems facing downwards, in a wooden box or plastic tray (the kind you find at fruit and vegetable markets). Leave the tubers to dry for around 3 weeks in a frost free place and then place the tubers the right way up and cover them with vermiculite, coir or dry compost. Store the tubers in a cool space, free of frost, and make regular checks for rot. It’s as simple as that. When Spring returns, simply place the tubers in trays of good compost, in a sunny position and give them some water that will initiate the tubers to sprout.
In other news, the chickens are still producing one measly egg a day, despite a recent worming and improved diet, I have taken delivery of next years seeds from the fantastic Seed Parade, and I have been nominated in the Horticultural Channel TV Awards 2011 under the category of the best gardening/allotment blog of 2011. Thank you to those of you who nominated me and if you wish to vote for me you can do so here. Good luck to everyone else who’s been nominated in my category and all the others too.