Tuesday, November 15, 2005

digging tubers and corms

a few weeks ago Marla asked how to take care of dahlias...
Around here, our winters are to cold for the dahlias tuber to survive in the ground, so you must dig them up and store them over their dormant period.  The first thing to do is dig around the base of the plant carefully to loosen the roots gently.  I use a digging fork, and then I lift the entire clump.
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These dahlias must be separated!  I think I will leave that job for spring!
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Another tuber that needs lifting is the 4 o'clock.  My 4 o'clock is over 5 years old now...it grows like a bush, and makes lots of little grenade shaped black seeds..but I usually just dig out the tuber and store it with the dahlias.
This one is a honker!
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Next on the list is the sunchokes.  I will dig some before the hard freeze sets in.  They will be stored in the small fridge in the basement, so I can use them for salads and soup and stew, but also to supplement the chickens and rabbits diet over the winter.
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Last up are the Gladiolas.  My husband really  likes the glads, so he always buys me some each spring.  I have quite a collection (oh my aching back)...and all must be lifted.  The blooms are worth it.  The smaller corm and cormels must be removed as well (oh my aching fingers!).  The blooms are so worth it.
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After all the lifting is finished, I trim the tops down to the base of the corm or tuber as the case might be.  At this point you may want to think about attaching a label as to color etc. if you need (or want) to.
Then I hose them down and set them aside for a day or so to allow them to cure.  After that, they can be stored in a paper bag, or an old Styrofoam cooler, cardboard box etc.  I check mine every so often over the winter to make sure they are not drying out, or molding or for some other bad thing like bugs or disease.  I store them in a cool dark and dry area of the basement to let them  hibernate for a few months. Usually, they are waking up and sending out little pink shoots long about late April.   So, sleep tight little tubers and corms...see you next spring !


Judith said...

I am very impressed w/your 4'clock--that it is 5 yrs old! What is a sunchoke, not sure about that one? Nice post of steps--you make it look manageable. I like that!

cyndy said...

Hi Judith!

My grandfather used to save his 4 o'clock's...they were enormous! A sun choke is a Jerusalem artichoke...pretty yummy and healthy. They can be invasive, and some people do not care to bother with them..so be warned!

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