Gardening November 2018

by Jane Ahrens

From Melíe’s Garden

Last month I wrote about visiting Christabel Vartanian’s beautiful garden and the growing of dahlias. Ken Edwards wisely mentioned to me this past month that I had not made it clear that it is best to have dahlias tubers stay in the ground until after the first frost in the fall. This is true, but many Fishers Island gardeners don’t live on the Island all year round and need to put their gardens to bed somewhat earlier than desirable before leaving for the winter. It is definitely better for the dahlias to have one freeze before removing the tubers from the ground to store. Swan Island Dahlias say it is safe to dig the tubers up if you haven’t had a freeze after November 15th and in warmer climates they can be left in the ground heavily mulched. I have had to dig tubers up sometimes a bit early and the tubers have wintered over somewhat successfully. This year, it is going to be interesting to see if my tubers will be happier wrapped in saran wrap for storage as dahlia grower Jim Hennigan recommended. I suggest you go to the Swan Island Dahlia website where they have excellent directions on dahlia, growing, dividing and storage.

Wintering over almost any plant is not a perfect science, but it is always worth a try. Just remember if you are bringing any plant inside for the winter, it should be hosed off outside and sprayed with Insecticidal Soap before coming into the house. Keep the plant well watered and check it over for bugs during the winter. Often you have to spray it again in a couple of months.

November is a good time of year to think back on how your garden was this summer and make a few notes on what to do or not do next year. I jotted down that due to the hot weather, I had good results growing more succulents in planters. And the tomato plants that I bought at Race Rock produced delicious tomatoes! Jeff Edwards grows the plants from seed and nurtures them in the greenhouse to sell in the early summer. I will certainly buy them again next year. And the little twigs that arrived in the spring as a thank you from the Arbor Day Foundation donation I sent, did beautifully and grew into healthy little dogwoods and redbuds. I have wondered if their success is due to their arriving as rooted twigs and therefore acclimate better to our environment than older trees of the same varieties that we buy in nurseries. The downside is that I probably won’t live long enough to see them reach their full maturity!

We all have to remember that Island gardening is a bit different; we experience warmer fall weather and cooler springs due to the wind and surrounding water. So it is often a challenging weather environment. Here at the Fog Horn we would love to hear from you about your gardening experiences, so we can share them with other Island gardeners. We can always learn so much from each other. Feel free to email with photos, ideas, and tips.

Have a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving!

PS. Many thanks to Dave Denison for the lovely end of the season dahlias he contributed to the FICC’s Community Dinner on Monday, October 29. They were just beautiful and added so much as the centerpieces for this fun chili dinner.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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