Dividing dahlias in spring

I can’t tell you thrilling it is to say ‘done’ to this one.

If you peer closely at the permaculture beds on the right side of this potager you might see circles of brown potting compost hiding the replanted dahlia buckets.

Ends of every bed and up through the middle. 32 in all.

I decided that the back border of the potager just didn’t work well enough for the dahlias last year. I crammed them in quite close. And they did not flower as magnificently as the ones in the main beds.

Well, we are ignoring the fact that the heatwave and drought was so fierce that all the dahlias stopped growing in July and August and only started pumping out real blooms after heavy rains in September.

The back border is actually more shaded than I expected. Excellent for some things. But not for the tubers.

And I decided that the whole rear bed – 10 metres long, just 50 centimetres wide – needs a redesign.

Curse having good ideas.

These are the musings you have when you excavate buckets of fantastic fat tubers all crammed together and ripe for dividing.

I now have heaps to give away.

I’m just keeping the spares in the potting shed and waiting to see if they sprout.

I know that each tuber has to have an ‘eye’ to be able to send up shoots. But as they are dormant, I really can’t spot them.

I just pulled them apart to see if they would come away easily. Others were so girthsome I didn’t mind sacrificing a few by hacking at the tangle.

Most have just gone back into the soil (in buckets with drilled holes). With a bit more fresher compost. And more space in each. I will stake them when they show signs of life.

I only lost about three of the varieties. And curses – it was the magical ones you lust over in the plant catalogues and dream of keeping from year to year.

I’m looking at you cafe au lait and downham royal.

The mole rats have not been able to munch them over winter which is deeply pleasing. I found a few of their tunnels when I was replanting.

I just hope they didn’t find the lovely Sylvia orange dahlia which was the star of last year’s crop.
It was so large, I didn’t have a big enough planting bucket to hold it. So it went into the soil with a prayer that the wretched beasties wouldn’t munch it.

And here is a reminder of just how glorious it became. I am conscious that you are seeing a fair bit of unrelenting brown at this time of year.

And yes, that is just one plant.

Blooming marvellous.