Perfect Design

Last year, Stacy dug up, or “lifted,” the entire dahlia field up at the farm. Then she spent hours dividing, cleaning and packing the tubers for storage. In the spring, we tore apart the watering system, tilled the soil, rebuilt the irrigation and replanted the best tubers from previous years along with some new ones. Even though Stacy did most of the work, I admit, I wondered if it was worth the effort. When the plants were slow to grow up and flower–normal, we learned for lifting years–I wondered even more.

But now, as the flowers grow bigger and more vibrant each day, I find it hard to even walk by without stopping to marvel at their incredible patterns and colors. They light up even the gloomiest autumn weather and brighten the house whenever Stacy brings home a handful for the kitchen table. As U-Pick flowers, the dahlias also help supplement our ¬†farm income, and hopefully brighten other people’s homes as much as ours. Was it worth all the work? Absolutely. But I’m happy we don’t have to do it again this year.

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Dahlia Field Work

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Hard to imagine this field filled with thick, green plants and the spectacular colors of dahlia flowers, but that’s what we’re working on now. Last fall, Stacy “lifted” the tubers, cleaned ’em up and stored them on the ping pong table. The picture above is from a couple weeks ago, before we started prep work.

With help from Gordy and Christine Wilson (former owners of the farm), we pulled out the irrigation system and stakes, tilled up the ground and got the support wire grid laid out again. So now it looks like this. Still hard to picture it filled with dahlias, but at least it’s an improvement.

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After three days of sorting tubers, Stacy is planting our favorites from last season, along with some hot new varieties from dahlia legend, Lou Eckhoff. If all goes well, the field will be filled again with the colors we love in July and August. Come by and pick some this summer. I’ve found that having dahlias around just makes you feel good.

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Summer Veggies Ahead

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Okay, time to get down off my soap box and back to regular life. Lots going on around here with farm and garden, which is to say we’re hopping around like crazed monkeys. Must be spring.

When we left for our road trip, Stacy planted veggie seeds for indoor starts, watered them in and covered the seedling trays with clear plastic lids. When we returned home, this is what greeted us. Broccoli starts, reaching for the sky. Or ceiling, as it were. We can hardly wait to start eating.

Put the tiller on the tractor yesterday, and I’m going to grind dirt later this week. New plan this year is to try to build more raised beds at the farm and get ’em filled and ready before the starts need to be transplanted. I spent last weekend deconstructing the irrigation system and stakes in the dahlia bed for tilling and prep. Still need to put it all back together again…stay tuned.


Dormant Summer

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Any guesses about what these are? Anybody? Here’s a hint: They aren’t sweet potatoes, and in fact, aren’t for eating at all. Figure it out?

Well, underneath ’em lies our ping-pong table, which has become the primary storage facility for…dahlia tubers. Stacy pulled, washed, dried, sorted and hauled this giant pile–hundreds, if not thousands–from the dahlia field up at the farm last month by herself while I was on the road promoting Closer to the Ground. Huge job and impressive results. Now they lie in wait for replanting or sale in the spring.

Hard to believe these homely little critters will blossom into spectacular flowers next summer. But I’m already looking forward to watching them grow and the beauty they bring to the farm when they bloom.