Digging, Dividing, and Storing Dahlia Tubers Page 2

Digging with a shovel or spade.

If a shovel or regular spade is used instead of a fork spade, it should be placed about four inches further from the stem stub than the fork spade. Otherwise, proceed using the same guidelines as for the fork spade.

If a shovel is inserted too close to the stem stub, it is likely to cut through a large tuber. One advantage of a shovel over a fork spade, is that the shovel will cut the strong roots that emerge from the end of each tuber. The fork spade leaves these roots intact and when the fork is bent backwards to pry up on the clump those roots put strain on the tuber and in some instances break it away from the clump, rendering it useless.



Wash the Tuber Clumps.

Washing the tuber clumps can be a wet affair. If only a few clumps are to be washed, spray them with a hose in some location where the water and wet soil will not be problematic.

If you have a large number of clumps to wash, you may wish to make a rack similar to the one shown on the right. In this case, the green plastic coated fencing material allows the water and soil to fall through easily. Almost all the soil can be removed using a hose with a shower type spray. Do not hose the clumps with a solid high pressure stream! The tubers can be damaged as the high pressure stream strips the skin off the tubers.



Tuber Clump Dividing Tools.

Some of the tools we use to divide tuber clumps are shown on the right. They include: Rachet type PVC pipe cutters (they work well to cut off large stems and split the clump); several different types of pruning shears, utility knives, carpet knives, florist scissors (on the right near the fungicide bottle.) Not shown are a hammer, butcher knife, hatchet and a troybilt 8 horsepower chipper shredder (when I get exasperated at the tedium of dividing tubers, I just throw a bunch of stems in the shredder--makes me feel better).


Looking for the "eyes."

A tuber will not sprout unless it has at least one "eye." The eyes are typically found at the top of a tuber on the ridge where the tuber joins the stem. A number of "eyes" are visible in this picture--pink or white small round dots in the center and center right of the picture. An eye is the beginning of a sprout, A sprout can be seen in the upper right hand corner of the picture. When a tuber is removed from the clump, the ridge containing the eyes must be attached to the tuber. In some cases, this will require taking a piece of the stem as well.


Continued on next page.

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