Mole Fingers and Dahlia Sales 12/15/23

Mole Fingers and Dahlia Sales 12/15/23

Posted by Mandy + Steve O'Shea on

Happy Friday dear people,

   It’s been a week of digging over here.  I’m developing webbed hands like a mole.  Stick the pitchfork in the ground, push with the foot, add leverage to the handle, repeat 100 times, then squat or get on knees, jam fingers into the loosened soil, pull up roots of mums, or tubers of dahlias, repeat ad infinitum.  Okay, not ad infinitum, but a lot.

   We’ve almost completed the mum digging and re-potting and had to turn our attention back to the dahlias in anticipation of more cold and wet weather.  The more rain we get, the harder it is to dig up the tubers, because the days are short and cool, so the ground never really dries up and we get stuck in a tug of war with the mud.  Deep freezes also have the potential to damage and rot dahlia tubers if the ground gets cold enough.  Some winters you can get away with leaving dahlias in the ground at our latitude, but sometimes they get bit.  Pro tip: dahlias should always be dug up and divided if you are farming them for profit.  You can get away with overwintering them for one year, but after that they become less vigorous and less productive.  They like for their tubers to be divided and replanted the following spring. 

   So anyway, we are trying to get the second half of our tubers excavated and safely stored in the basement before winter progresses much further.  We seem to be running out of crates and basement though.  We’ve definitely got waaaay more tubers than ever before, which means we are going to put together a big dahlia sale soon.  For years folks that know what we’re growing have been asking us to offer more shipped dahlia tubers.  We’ve kinda hoarded them all ourself to make sure we could up our production levels.  We have sold a small amount locally and shipped a few at the last minute in years past,  but we’ve finally arrived at a point where we can really offer these in sufficient quantities to other growers and can comprise a solid list of options well in advance of planting time to more adequately meet farmers’ planning needs.


   We’re only growing highly productive, strong stemmed, heat, humidity, and disease tolerant varieties that are beautiful, so they are ideal for any farmers or gardeners in the South that have struggled with varieties they’ve purchased elsewhere.  We’ve done 12 years of vetting them all for you, so you don’t waste anymore years or money on failed dahlias in the garden.  We’ve done enough failing for 100 gardens in 100 lifetimes and painstakingly isolated the gems while questioning our sanity along the way.  The successes started to mount though and we now have an arsenal of all around heat loving beauties. 

   On the other end of the dahlia spectrum, we have dahlia seeds that we just added to the website and they’re available now. The crew cleaned and packed them all up last week. They are as easy as zinnias to grow from seed, but in contrast to the tubers which have been painstakingly selected for ideal qualities and are genetically identical from one generation to the next, the plants you get from seeds are all going to be completely unique.  They are a genetic mix of all of our favorites, so some of them turn out to be incredible and we are personally growing a ton of them in an effort to create more and more beautiful southern dahlia varieties. If you are a control freak, they may not be for you, but if you revel in the excitement of discovery and wonder, then these are definitely for you. They are a fun surprise wherein you will truly have many one of a kind varieties of dahlias…. and the butterflies love them!  We had well over a thousand monarchs in our dahlias this Fall and they congregated mostly in the single varieties that arose from our dahlia seeds.  It was magical.

   We’re hoping to find a break between digging today to discuss all the details of said spectacularly stupendous southern dahlia sale, so we’re starting a dahlia tuber email list for anyone who wants to not only be in the know, but to be first in line to get access to our sale.  You can sign up here!

   A quick note to extend apologies to anyone my writing style may irritate.  It’s been pointed out that my grammar and spelling could stand some polishing if I intend to best represent our farm and though it was just one email, I’m certain it represents a cross section of scholastically oriented left brained readers that cringe at every misused word or grammatical flaw I hastily spew onto the page/screen.  So, if you find yourself thinking, “This newsletter’s alright, but why can’t the boy write right?”, you’re not wrong. A well intentioned and fair critique that I’ll attempt to address for the benefit of everyone who shares that sentiment. 

   I'm not a writer.  I'm just a farmer who's just trying to share what's happening on the farm with what very little time I have to do so.  This a blog that's more focused on mood, feelings, and events than it is on grammatical perfection.  If I can convey our experience honestly, then I've done what I've set out to do.  These newsletters are generally thrown together after a 12 hour day, when I’m exhausted and should be sleeping, or at the last minute Friday morning when I’m desperately needed in the field.  In an ideal world, I’d commit more time to these, but the farm dictates triage conditions at all times, so I choose to focus on authenticity over literary perfection.  The one lesson I do remember from English class was that if you edit while you write, you inhibit the creative space that makes for interesting reading, so for better or worse I live by that.  And for the record (never start a sentence with “and”) I appreciate the criticism.  So many of this farm’s improvements were born of a response to a sometimes stinging critique.  Sometimes people are just grumpy and hurtful, but more often I find that there is truth to the critiques and an opportunity to grow and improve as a result.  Nobody really loves the initial reading of a critique, but I do often appreciate them for the guidance they can provide.  

   Dear everyone, This is not an invitation to flood me with criticism :). My heart lives on my sleeve and I can process roughly one critique a week and this newsletter goes out to 15,000 people so please coordinate with each other and space them out accordingly.  Thanks for your understanding on all fronts.

   Local shoppers.  The store is open through Sunday this week and will be open Tuesday-Saturday the 23rd next week, wherein it will close down until spring, so if you need something, do swing by before we shut down for the season.

   That’s all today.  Time to dig

Happy weekend,