Digging Up The Dahlia Bulbs

The dead dahlia garden

When Jon first suggested getting dahlias I was against it.  I didn’t want the trouble of digging them up each fall and planting them in the spring.

But I’ve come to love our dahlia garden.  For the past seven years, I’ve been planting the bulbs in the spring and digging them up in the fall.

Not only does it bring so much beauty to the farm, but they feed the bees and butterflies long after most of the other flowers are gone.

The old lock on the basement door that wouldn’t open

Today was warm and sunny, the perfect for digging dahlias bulbs.  I gathered up paper bags and cardboard boxes, got my thick black marker, the shovel, and the wheelbarrow, and opened up the pantry in the basement.

But the basement door leading to the bilco doors was stuck.  I couldn’t turn the little knob that releases the bolt. So I took the lock off the door (four easy-to-turn screws) oiled it and put it back on.

It was a short delay and soon I was out in the garden.

Dahlia bulbs

About a month ago I tied colored yarn corresponding with the color of the flowers around the dahlia stems. So the pink flowers had pink yarn and the yellow flowers had yellow yarn.  It’s hard to tell the colors of the flowers once they are dead and since I don’t dig them up until they’re dead, I’ve found this is a good way to tell them apart.

This bag holds the bulbs of the Determined Dahlia. It’s the bulb that sprouted in the basement last summer.

After I dig up the bulbs, I cut the dead plant off and then separate them all into bags and boxes that I’ve labeled according to the color and kind of flower.

The dahlias in the pantry in the basement

Then I put the bags of dahlias in the pantry in the basement.

Now the dahlia garden has a layer of donkey manure on it and will be ready for the dahlias to be planted again in the spring.

The last thing I do is toss the dead dahlias over the fence for the donkeys and sheep to eat.


6 thoughts on “Digging Up The Dahlia Bulbs

  1. I love this post so much.
    The part about using the yarn color to coincide to dahlia, genius.
    I am sharing this with a few friends, one in Australia who have dahlia gardens.
    One could use twine or something white to color for those without access to yarn. Love putting the marker on plant itself
    Thank you

    1. Oh I hope it’s helpful to them DawnMarie. Thanks for sharing it. And yes, there are many ways of labeling them. There are those twisties that have paper on them that you can write on. I bet that would work too.

  2. It’s so satisfying to fix things isn’t it? There’s logic to that sort of bolt that can be observed by anyone willing to take the time to look.

    I like the full circle of the spent plants being eaten by the sheep and donkeys and then donkey manure refueling the flower bed. Also, that last photo of the donkeys is adorable. They have such expressive faces.

    1. Yes! Trish, it’s so perfect how that works with the donkeys and their manure. I wish we could do more like that on the farm and in the house.
      I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t get that lock off. But it is such a simple mechanism. I really appreciate that.

  3. Love the colored yarn strategy for marking. I have one large mum that on these warm afternoons is feeding honeybees and bumblebees. Have never appreciated a mum like I appreciate this one.

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