24 New Dahlia cuttings (NDC) – planting on

Yay! my 24 New dahlia Cuttings arrived!

You may remember I got a tad excited on a wet grey miserable gloomy November day last year and ordered 24 new Dahlias from the National Dahlia Collection…when I wasn’t even sure I had room for them in the new garden!:

https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/looking-forward-to-dahlia-season/

Well they arrived and I unpacked them with eager anticipation! I’m not sure why as I knew they would look like 24 identical green cuttings and there would be no inkling of their future colour….but for some reason I still got excited at the prospect of new Dahlia flowers!

They arrived in small flat cardboard boxes each individually labelled with a number on a white label.

The cuttings are all different sizes so I identified the smallest 10 cuttings and placed these in smaller pots in prime position on the kitchen window sill where I could monitor these and the other 14 I placed near my patio doors in trays.

Firstly I printed off colour labels for each plant and geekily laminated these labels for the garden. I bought  some white label holders from B&Q and these come in packs of 10 for around £2.50 I think? These are OK, but the labels do fall out….I think they are good whilst the plants are in pots, but once they have been moved outside its better to tie the laminated labels onto the actual plant supports to stop them going missing! So  hole-punched the labels as well so these could be tied onto the plant supports.

I also purchased 2 new trays and 1 pack of capillary matting sheets from B&Q which contained 5 sheets. I used 2.5 sheets per tray which fitted perfectly and used these to place the individual pots into whilst they are growing indoors. I wanted to maintain some moisture and stop the cuttings drying out, whilst preventing the pots leaking all over my floor!

I think this system worked quite well on a small scale, but its certainly not perfect as the pots do move around when you pick up or move the trays, so there is room to experiment again next year!

I have been growing dahlias for a few years now, but this is only the second summer of having a proper garden as before I was constrained to a concrete yard with pots. Now I have 2 fairly large flowers beds that I have created especially for Dahlia heaven! So every year my techniques evolve and change as I experiment with different methodologies. So my way of doing things isn’t necessarily right, its just me trying to improve my success with growing dahlias. In previous years I’ve been guilty of starting dahlias off inside too soon and they become tall and spindly and leggy, so this year I didn’t start my dahlias until late April and it seems to have worked much better.

After a month or more inside, I planted the cuttings outside at the end of May, beginning of June, when all risk of frost in the Northwest of England, UK had passed. These have all been outside for 2 weeks now, so I will write you an update of their progress very soon!

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If you have any hints or tips for growing dahlias please let me know 🙂

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Garden Hand Tools Product Review Part 4: Hand Dibber & Widget

As promised in my previous post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Widger and Hand Dibber.

  1. Burgon & Ball Hand Widger
  2. Spear & Jackson Dibber

The Burgon & Ball (B&B) Widger  is endorsed by the RHS and measures Max width 3cm, overall length 33cm with an RRP of £9.95. B&B describe the product as a cross between a trowel and a dibber, this unique little tool will help in levering plants out of pots as well as planting seeds and seedlings.

The Spear and Jackson (S&J) Dibber has an RRP of £7.99 and a Handle size 5″. Spear & Jacksons website don’t provide a description for its use but a general Google search for Dibber states the following “A dibber is a gardening tool used to make bulb and seed planting effortless. You use a dibber to make holes in the soil. The result is consistent hole for seedlings, all at the same depth. It’s far better to use when planting stem or room cuttings, as you don’t damage the plant through forcing it into the ground.

I think these 2 products have a similar use, but I prefer the Widger as I feel as it has multiple uses.

After moving into my new house and garden, I accidentally dug up thousands of bluebells and daffodils, every time I dug a patch in the garden I would find loads of bulbs or pebbles in the sandy soil. I decided to naively just replant these bluebells in a range of places all over the garden in rows using the S&J dibber as I don’t like wasting plants and couldn’t face binning them. The tool was fantastic at making single deep holes in the poor soil without the hillside falling apart….however months later I would come to regret using the dibber tool to replant all those bluebells. Firstly I discovered most bulbs such as bluebells don’t look great in rows, they look better in clumps or bunches, secondly getting them back out after planting them with a dibber is near impossible! Of course that is no reflection on the tool….just think twice where you  decide to plant those bulbs in case you change your mind! I’m certainly wishing I hadn’t got carried away with tool and planted those bluebells everywhere!

I purchased the Burgon and Ball Widger after discovering it accidentally whilst browsing for other hand tools from B&B and thought it looked a rather intriguing tool! I liked the fact it could be used for planting seedlings. I always found it difficult to plant on seedlings from those black plastic multi-hole seedling trays. This widger tool does help get the seedlings out and more importantly helps replant the seedlings individually without damaging the long spindly root systems. It hasn’t perfected my seedling methodology, but it has helped and I probably still need to carry on experiementing with the tool to find its perfect use! what do you use yours for?

Over all the Burgon and Ball tools look well made and I am looking forward to purchasing more tools from their range as they seem to provide some niche quirky garden additions that other companies don’t.

Overall I found both the S&J Dibber and the B&B Widger handy, but I thought the B&B Widger had more uses and potential and is better made.

Next time I will be reviewing the last and final set of hand tools:

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels.

Garden Hand Tools Product Review Part 3 Hand shrub rake

As promised in my previous post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Shrub Rake.

I have only one tool of this type from Burgon & Ball.

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The product is endorsed by the RHS and measures Max width 13cm, overall length 40cm with an RRP of £9.95.

Burgon & Ball recommend the product is used to remove the leaves and debris from places a big rake can’t get, so snails don’t have a place to hide.

This is the only product of this type and size I have in my garden tool collection and so far I have found it very handy. Of course I have full size larger rakes, but this is perfect for working on flower beds in any smaller areas of the garden. I have so far used it to clean the soil of my new flower beds, for instance I have recently planted a bed of shrub roses and Allium and this is perfect for getting in between the plants without damaging them and removing any unwanted debris and leaves. I have similarly just planted my dahlias and again it is perfect for getting under the foliage of the dahlias and keeping the flower beds clear. In the sloping sandy area of my garden, it is full of small stones and debris which constantly becomes unearthed after raining, again I have found this hand rake useful for tidying these areas which are in progress.

This is one of two items I have bought from Burgon and Ball as I have also brought the Widger hand tool from them, which I will be reviewing in a later post.

The product is well made and it looks like this company has a range of very interesting and innovative gardening tools, which I’m always on the lookout for, so I will be browsing their website for more products very soon!

The only tiny downside which is not a reflection on the product itself, is it doesn’t easily fit in my gardening tool box! However as soon as I have my new shed I will probably ditch the tool box and hang the tools up individually 😀

 Next time I will be reviewing the following:

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels