Next meeting Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 @ 7:30 PM


Treasurer Larry Sawyer reports total net income from the Master
Gardener’s Sale at $2950.44 which is $450.44 in excess of budget.  
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped make it a resounding success!  
Thanks to Marge Gitts, Phil Mingus, Teresa Bergman and her sons
Aaron and Jeremy, Shirley Bankston, Jerry Rasmussen, Jim Lawrence,
Larry Smith, Tiffany Boatwright and her husband, Jeanette Benson,
Gordon Jackman, Ted Kennedy and Mike Riordan. Special thanks to
those that helped set up and take down the tent and sales racks.  
Proceeds from the sales will allow us to fund our annual show and other
member approved projects like the new signage at Swan Island
directing people to our show and for in front of the Show Building at the


Cookie hosts for June are Jeanette Benson and Jean Van Lom.


Our program for June will be a presentation on fertilizer by a local
manufacture’s representative.  Get the low down on N, P and K as well
as all the trace elements.  Find out what nutrient deficiencies are most
likely in our local soils.

Members are also asked to bring in their favorite garden implement or
tool for a brief “show and tell”. Speaking of gardening implements…
Last season on Jeopardy, Alex posed “this garden implement can also
refer to a person of questionable reputation.”  All time grand champion,
Ken Jennings, quickly rang in and responded, “What is a hoe?”  Mr.
Trebek replied, “I’m sorry, you are wrong, the correct question is
‘what is a rake?’” Truth is often funnier as well as stranger than fiction.


The Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers will be sponsoring a
judge’s training seminar Sunday, July 29th at Connell’s Dahlias in
Tacoma.  The training offers a different approach with different classes
and instructors for each judging level; i.e., Candidate, Accredited and
Senior Judge.  Max Ollieu is planning to attend and has room in his car
for some folks that would like to car pool.  Please contact Max at or 360-687-1536 (home) or 360-607-3076 (cell).

Tiffany Boatwright has a new e-mail address.  It is

By Max Ollieu

June is really a busy month for me in my dahlia garden.  Since my
choice is to start my tubers in one gallon plastic pots, they need to be
transplanted to my garden the latter part of May as well as much of
June.  Even cuttings I have been able to obtain have been repotted and
need transplanting as well.  So, much of the month is spent digging holes
and transplanting the best of the new starts.  This year, I will be
transplanting about 80% of my new crop.  The rest will go to friends or
be discarded.

I begin my monthly applications of Messenger June first and plan to
continue those applications through September first.  In my opinion,
Messenger helps provide better and stronger tuber crops, resistance to
the effects of disease organisms such as powdery mildew and tuber rot,
and enhances above ground plant health and size.  Application of
fertilizer in June is a heaping tablespoon of slow release nitrogen in
each hole since my phosphorus and potassium levels are already
adequate for my garden.  I also start my applications of insecticide in
June and plan to alternate between Orthene and Wisdom (Bifenthrin)
which is a cheaper product than Talstar, also a Bifenthrin product.  Of
course, my worst pest is the slug, so heavy applications of slug bait are
made as soon as plants are placed in the garden as well as patrols
morning and evening to manually control any slugs found approaching
the garden.

The plants also need to be groomed in terms of topping and bottoming
(my term).  Topping for me means removing the terminal buds on the
main stem to encourage growth of laterals.  Bottoming to me means
removal of the laterals lowest to the ground to allow for air circulation
as well as room for the mulch to be added in July.   Mainly though, I
need to get the right number of laterals for the particular dahlia variety
being grown.  Lateral management is extremely important for those of
us trying to grow our best show dahlias and I work hard to keep to the
number I have selected for each variety essentially to the last show.

I grow my mignon singles and peony type dahlias in large containers.  
Since both types are small, it’s nice to have them elevated for
deadheading.  Also, they don’t have to compete with larger dahlias and
grass.  Fortunately, they seem to do just fine in large containers.


Do try to manage healthy plant growth by allowing only one sprout to
grow from each tuber.  If multiple sprouts are allowed to grow, they
tend to compete with each other resulting in smaller flowers and
generally weaker growth. Don’t remove the unwanted sprouts by
pulling on them.  I did this at one time, until I managed to break the
neck of the only tuber of a new and expensive variety.  Pinching or
cutting works fine.  Pulling, a definite no-no.

Do water green plants to keep them growing vigorously. A liquid
fertilizer at half strength administered weekly will also keep them
growing strong.  Last week during the 80 degree weather this could
make all the difference in healthy plants vs. throwing them into a
stalled, shocked state where they are apt to express viral symptoms.  If
you have tubers and green plants growing together hand watering the
green plants is the preferred option.  If during the middle of June the
ground begins to dry out a bit, one can start overhead watering.  Using
an oscillating sprinkler, the gardener can simulate a refreshing spring
shower. Morning showers as opposed to evening showers would be less
conducive to powdery mildew. When the plants reach about a foot high,
I usually put out the drip tape and begin watering in the normal
manner.  At this point all overhead watering is discontinued.

E. Henry White was one of the charter members of our Society.  Henry
advocated a special tonic for dahlias that were expressing viral
symptoms.  His remedy was two generous handfuls of lime around the
perimeter of the plant.  Into a gallon of water mix a tablespoon each of
Epsom salts and fish emulsion.  If the plants snapped out of their malaise
he would allow them to continue growing.  If not, he mercilessly culled
them out.

The rotting mother tuber phenomenon usually happens this month.  
You may have a strong healthy plant that suddenly, inexplicably begins
to wilt.  Usually, this means the mother tuber is decomposing.  The plant
will attempt to survive by growing new side roots, but this takes a little
time.  To help Mother Nature along, try shading the plant on the South
and West sides with a piece of cardboard about a foot square held in
place by three stakes per side.

Replanting is a seldom discussed subject.  But nothing ever works out
perfectly. And some plants don’t grow and others need to be culled
because they are diseased.  If the dahlia grower has a few extra green
plants, they come in handy for this purpose.  A few extra tubers growing
individually in pots for this specific purpose work out equally well.  
Having extra stock for the express purpose of replanting also makes one
more apt to cull the plants you know deep down you need to cull.


Cultivation and the manner in which it is done spell the difference
between success and failure in growing dahlias.  Cultivation is placed
ahead of watering as with proper preparation and cultivation of the soil,
moisture can be conserved but watering without cultivation is worse
than no watering at all.  There is no truer adage than “the hoe is
mightier than the hose”.  Editor’s note:
A garden rake works even better than a hoe to cultivate and loosen the
soil.   The soil is raked around the plants and the paths themselves
between the rows are also raked.

Cultivation should be started as soon as the shoots are far enough out of
the ground to mark the rows.  The object is three fold, to break the
crust and conserve moisture, to allow aeration of the soil and to destroy
the weeds which take food and moisture from the plants.  Cultivation
should be shallow until the plants are up a few inches after which it
should be worked several inches deep until the plants are a couple of
feet high or until the buds start to show.  Cultivation should always be
shallow close to the plants to avoid injury to the feeder roots.  By the
time the buds start to show the fine feeder roots will fill most of the
space between the rows and deep cultivation should cease.  From then
on cultivation should only be deep enough to keep a dust mulch on top.  
Many growers make it a practice to always float the ground after
cultivating as it helps to prevent evaporation of the moisture.  A crust
should never be allowed to form as this will permit the soil to dry out in
a very short time.  The ground should be stirred at least once every two
weeks and should always be worked as soon after a rain as the top
surface dries out sufficiently.  The hoe is the implement most used in the
small garden for cultivation and is always needed to remove weeds form
around the plants in any planting.  After the plants get well started, a
rake may be substituted for the hoe for close work as it is not so apt to
injure the fine roots.

From Practical Dahlia Culture published by the Portland Dahlia
Society in 1946.
June 2007
Editor: Mike Riordan (503) 256-0425 Contacts: Larry Smith (503) 777-1857,
Jeanette Benson (503) 649-4118
Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park
United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda