My Dinner Plate Dahlias

This year I’m trying to reign-in my Dahlia obsession. I always have this fantasy of  rows upon rows of dahlias. But space is a hot commodity for me on my little farm, so let’s just assume that I’ll be planting less than I had on my crazy-awesome dahlia wishlist, but more than CJ thought we needed.

Supposedly this little negotiation is called “Comprise”.

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I try to get my tubers in the ground by mi-May (which is creeping up on me). When planting dahlia tubers be careful. They’re fragile. Which really isn’t my strong suit. I think my fine motor skills may have been lost somewhere in the gene pool.

My Tip for Fantastically HUGE Dahlias: I toss a handful of Bonemeal in the hole at plantins. Bonemeal encourages strong root growth (important for heavily flowering plants like roses and other bulbs) and encourages blooming.

Which HEL-LO?! Is what I’m trying to do!

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A side note on Bonemeal: it  has more phosphorous than other fertilizers which is beneficial for dahlias. Most have equal or varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. With too much nitrogen plants will focus their growth on leaves, not flowers (which is bad). And potassium helps with the reproduction aspect, which is a non-issue with dahlias as they are grown by splitting their tubers when they are dormant.

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There are a many different types of dahlias, butty favorites are the Dinner Plates.

Because they are the best. I may be a bit biased, but I don’t think so.

It’s just that their blooms are so dang big! Their flowers are between 8 and 12 inches ACROSS!  I love seeing clients or  friends’ faces when I bring them a bunch, especially if they haven’t seen them before it’s almost as if they aren’t real.

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Another great dahlia growing tip: Cut back the main, center stem to the ground when its approximately 12″ tall.

I know it hurts. You don’t believe me. You may even think I’ve lost my mind!

But it works!

By cutting back the center leader by several inches all the energy gets redirected back into the plant and does so many good things. It makes the plant happier in general, but the stems elongate (good for market and wedding work), the plant is sturdier and bushier, and it promotes bud development. Which is what I want! So I cut it back.

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Be ruthless! Cut all your dahlias back. HARD. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

If you think I’m lying, try it on just one of your dahlias and you will be converted to this practice for life!

For more on dahlias and the organic kitchen garden, check out my new book, The Backyard Gardener!

Warmly,
Kelly
By |April 3rd, 2017|Bungalow Potager, Growing & Gardening, My Life As A Gardener|

Spring is in the air!

ColdMaine.KellyOrzelPhotography

The calendar says it’s spring, but the snow outside my window gives me serious doubts. Still, I know the white stuff will disappear in a few days (hopefully less) due to our unseasonably warm weather. My garlic, chives and comfrey are all awake and I’ve been running flats of herbs and scented geraniums wrapped in frost blankets between the hoop house and potting shed. Even thought Mother Nature is teasing me, my plants and my garden, I will not let her get the best of me.  

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Aside from my little tirade about the weather, there are many lovely things happening and growing at Bowery Beach Farm. We have a new four-season greenhouse going up next week, the base of which is finished. This past fall we received our official mail-order nursery certification and our spring orders are already rolling in. And last, but certainly not least, my first book, The Backyard Kitchen Gardener, will be published by Lyons Press next Spring (2017). Their senior editor contacted me last fall and I signed my first very first book contract.

Needless to say, we’ve been quite busy, but also quite grateful!

By |April 4th, 2016|Bowery Beach Farm, My Life as a Gardener, My Life As A Gardener, Writing|

Hellebores are here!

Hellebores | Bowery Beach Farm

There are not many plants that thrive in the winter, but Hellebores are one of them!

I love these plants so much I cannot get enough of them. In fact, last year I started my very own collection of these pretty girls in one of my garden. And I just bought two new additions this winter that I plan to plant out in the spring. First is the traditional white Helleborus niger that currently is residing in our guest bathroom.

Hellebores | Bowery Beach Farm

Then there is this green-flowered hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius, that I’m crushing on. Can’t wait to see how it stacks up against the Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) – which by the way does NOT stink – and the purple flowered hellebore from Slovenia, Helleborus atrorubens.

By |February 10th, 2016|Cut Flowers, Growing & Gardening, My Life as a Gardener, My Life As A Gardener|

Planning the Garden

Ordering Seed  | Bowery Beach Farm

While it’s still chilly and cold outside here in my office I’m nice and cosy. I love this time of year. There’s nothing to do in the garden but imagine what can be …

Time spent pouring over seed and bulb catalogs. Mostly likely with a glass of wine. 

Making meticulous layouts of this year’s garden that will be modified many times over before the season is over.

And catching up on some of my favorite movies like Anne of Green Gables.

Seed Sorting | Bowery Beach Farm

Just the way I like to spend a wintery day.

By |February 1st, 2016|Bowery Beach Farm, Growing & Gardening, My Life As A Gardener|