The Happy Determined Dahlia

The Determined Dahlia.

Do you remember the Determined Dahlia?  It’s the bulb I found growing in the basement a few weeks ago and planted in the Dahlia garden.

Well, it’s loving life outside. Its leaves are big and healthy.  This is a plant that had a rough beginning and now that it’s being nurtured and nourished, it’s taking full advantage and living its life.

I have my fingers crossed that it may even grow a flower before the first frost. But even if it doesn’t, those happy leaves are enough for me.

What the Determined Dahlia looked like when I found it growing in the basement.

The Determined Dahlia Bulb

I went into the cold storage room in the basement looking for a metal garbage pail.  We’ve had a problem with mice.

Two days ago Jon picked up a roll of toilet paper from the shelf in the bathroom and dry dog food cascaded out of the tube all over the floor.

Apparently, a mouse was using it for storage.

We put out traps and this morning when I went to the bathroom, I saw the trap on the other side of the bathroom, the mouse caught in it, still alive. I knew it wouldn’t live for long by the way it was caught in the trap, so I helped the mouse meet his end.

I will not go into details, it is not something I like to dwell on.

After this, I decided I needed to put the dog food bags into a container that mice couldn’t get into.  I can’t keep the mice from coming in (I clogged up many holes in the floor around the pipes coming up from the basement with steel wool which they can’t eat through) but I can keep them from using the dog food as an easy source of survival.

I knew there was a metal pail in the basement, I didn’t know about the dahlia bulb.

It must have fallen out of one of the bags I store the bulbs in when I got them out of the cold storage room in the spring for planting.

Sitting on top of the garbage can cover was a single shriveled dahlia bulb, its roots reaching out for sustenance, a red stem at least eighteen inches tall growing straight up towards the light coming in the small window, tiny green leaves sprouting at even intervals to its very tip.

What a marvel. What a beacon of hope and perseverance.

If not for that brave, adventurous mouse I don’t know that I ever would have seen it.

Needless to say, I planted the dahlia bulb in the dahlia garden.  I put it in the shade of the other flowers so it wouldn’t be shocked by the sunlight.   I surrounded it with a little metal fence to keep it safe from the chickens and cats.

I don’t expect it to flower but at least those heroic roots will be able to suck some nutrients from the soil.  And maybe the leaves will spread enough to pull in some sunlight.

It might be able to live its life cycle, if not fully, at least enough to experience life the way it is meant to be.

When I dig up the dahlias bulbs in the fall, I will put this one in a separate bag.  Next spring I’ll be sure to plant it in a place where I can watch it grow.

I don’t know if it will survive, but I’ll do what I can to help it along.  And I’ll remember the mouse that didn’t die easy.

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.


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