TURMERIC SPICE - A CURE FOR CANCER, DEMENTIA AND ARTHRITIS?




The chemical curcumin (an extract found in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric) has long been thought to have healing powers and is already being tested as a treatment for arthritis and even dementia. However, in recent laboratory tests it has also been shown to destroy gullet cancer cells. They breakthrough came about when it was discovered that the curcumin triggered lethal cell death signals in the cancerous cell calling them to digest themselves.

Tumeric root - image credit Thamizhpparithi Maari
Dr Sharon McKenna - from the Cork Cancer Research Centre - and her team found that curcumin started to kill cancer cells within 24 hours. She said,

‘...Scientists have known for a long time that natural compounds have the potential to treat faulty cells that have become cancerous and we suspected that curcumin might have therapeutic value...’

Cancer experts say the findings in the British Journal of Cancer could help doctors find new treatments. This was confirmed by Dr Lesley Walker - director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK – who had this to say on the matter,

‘...This is interesting research which opens up the possibility that natural chemicals found in turmeric could be developed into new treatments for oesophageal cancer. Rates of oesophageal cancer have gone up by more than a half since the 70s and this is thought to be linked to rising rates of obesity, alcohol intake and reflux disease so finding ways to prevent this disease is important too...’

Each year around 7,800 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the UK making it the sixth most common cause of cancer death. This accounts for almost 5% of all UK cancer deaths.

Thamizhpparithi Maari file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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WHY ARE TROPICAL RAINFORESTS SO IMPORTANT?




The rainforests are part of an ancient and complex eco-system that circles the equator and acts as one of the world’s most effective carbon sinks.

Unfortunately, they are being destroyed at a rate of 6 million hectares a year – an incredible number to comprehend but it works out to be the size of two football pitches every second!
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Rainforests control the global climate and create much of the planets rainfall – something that is absolutely vital for the future of our global agricultural needs.

They also contain an astonishing array of bio-diversity that our modern and future medicines rely on, but we need to remember that they are also home to some of the poorest populations on earth.

If deforestation could be stopped in its tracks then it would give world leaders time to create low carbon economies on which all of our futures depend.

If the deforestation of the rainforests remains unchecked it will result in billions of environmental refugees, irregular and uncertain food production, a lack of fresh water and the increasing spread of disease.

In addition, climate change will occur faster with even more dramatic effect, and the environmental systems that we rely on for our drinking water, food, fuel, and medicines will become drastically threatened. To make things worse the natural environmental processes that we take for granted i.e. the purification of air and water, the de-toxification of soils and flood prevention will also be harmed.

To put it more clearly it will adversely affect every man, woman, and child on the entire planet.

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WHAT IS ‘SLASH AND BURN’ FARMING AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE RAINFORESTS?




The term ‘Slash and Burn’ farming relates to an old agricultural practice that has historically been used throughout most of the world. It is a method which quickly creates open land through the cutting and burning of forests and woodlands to create fields for agriculture, or pasture for livestock.
This method also creates - what was otherwise a very poor soil - a soil that is rich in available plant nutrients, but this is only due to the introduction of the burned plant material back into the soil. Unfortunately - under normal cultivation – this newly released fertility quickly declines and the land is either abandoned or left for fallow to be burned again at a later time.

Today the term is mainly associated with the dramatic loss of tropical rain forests, but the ‘slash and burn’ technique is still used by between 200 and 500 million people worldwide

The biggest problem of using ‘slash and burn’ in tropical rainforests is the large scale erosion that usually occurs afterwards. Since there are few active roots in the ground or a protective tree canopy to act as temporary water storage, there is no longer anything left to prevent the surface run-off of water. Therefore, any small remaining amounts of nutrients are washed away causing the phenomenon known as ‘desertification’ - this is when no further growth of any type may arise for generations.

The world’s rainforests - and therefore the world at large - are already at risk from catastrophic climate change. In less than 50 years we have seen the destruction of over half of the worlds rainforest environment due to logging and ‘slash and burn’ farming. However the loss of the rainforest continues to progress at an alarming rate - equivalent to an area of two football fields every second!

What is often not realised is that rainforests benefit everyone, and not just the local populations of where they are found. Rainforests store water, regulate rainfall, and are home to over half the planets biodiversity, but more importantly they play a critical role in helping to limit the amount of fossil fuel emissions that build up in our atmosphere every year by absorbing CO2 as part of their normal photosynthetic process. The trouble is that when they are cut down and burned, not only are they then unable to absorb these emissions, they actually release yet more CO2 into the atmosphere. Currently, rainforest destruction accounts for 17% of global CO2 emissions which is more than the global transport sector releases.

It is these emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. In simple terms, if there were no rainforests to absorb CO2, the temperature of the earth would rise, and in turn so would global sea levels. That is the reality that the world is facing and why its effects should concern everybody.

For more information about the environment click into:

WHY SHOULD WE PROTECT THE RAINFOREST?




The majority of readers to the 'Garden of Eaden' website are from 1st World, industrialized nations. We live in stable economies, with the added cushion of imported food and energy when we need it. Whatever is left of our ancient forests (which to be fair isn't that much) is protected by law and being preserved for our future.

We recycle a good part of our waste and try not to leave our flat screen televisions on standby, so why should we be concerned about the systematic destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests? Apart from standing on a soap box and blaming everyone else, we can't really do that much to help because we don’t live in the appropriate countries and we have no voting rights – or can we?

The unfortunate truth is that what happens over there does affect us over here and the world's rainforests are being lost at an unthinkable rate.

However, at least we know the reasons behind it. Destructive logging activity,  both legal and illegal, and the unsustainable ‘slash and burn’ clearance of the rainforest lands for farming; these are the two main activities that are at the very heart of this serious problem.

Why Should We Care?

What is often not realised is that rainforests benefit everyone, and not just the local populations of where they are found. Rainforests store water, regulate rainfall, and are home to over half the planets biodiversity, but more importantly they play a critical role in helping to limit the amount of fossil fuel emissions that build up in our atmosphere every year by absorbing CO2 as part of their normal photosynthetic process. The trouble is that when they are cut down and burned, not only are they then unable to absorb these emissions, they actually release yet more CO2 into the atmosphere. Currently, rainforest destruction accounts for 17% of global CO2 emissions which is more than the global transport sector releases.

It is these emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. In simple terms, if there were no rainforests to absorb CO2, the temperature of the earth would rise, and in turn so would global sea levels. That is the reality that the world is facing and why its effects should consern everybody.

Unfortunately the ‘Pandora’s Box’ of climate change has already been opened and we can already see its effects happening all around us. Of course, some of the signs are big while others are so small you probably haven’t noticed - the break-up of the ice shelves, unexpected weather patterns, a greater risk of flooding, or may you have just noticed that some of your garden plants are flowering a little earlier this year. It already appears to be too late to reverse these effects, but if we work together we might be able to stop them getting worse or maybe even just slow it down. It is down to the individual to decide what is more important – an easy life or a sustainable life for our children.

Action needs to be taken now and that doesn’t mean selling up and tying yourself to the first tree after stepping off the plane at Brazil airport. You can – at the very least - click onto the Prince’s Rainforest’s Project and sign up your name - it doesn’t cost anything and it will make you feel better. Do nothing and you will only reap what you sow.
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For more information on helping the environment click onto:

HOW TO GROW PUMPKINS FROM SEED




As true fruits go, pumpkins can achieve monstrous sizes - so when it comes to growing them from seed you need to get the timing right so that they can make use of the warmest and sunniest part of the year.

Traditionally – in England anyway – pumpkins are sown during the third week in May and this is to make sure that the ground temperature is warm enough for germination.

This needs to be at least 60 degrees Celsius, in fact in Lincolnshire it’s believed that pumpkin growers test the soil by pulling down their trousers and sitting on the ground!

If you live in an area where the summers are neither long or warm enough, you will need to give your seeds a head start by germinating them under controlled conditions indoors i.e. plenty of additional light and soil temperatures of between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius.

To give you seeds the best start - although it is not strictly necessary – lightly file the edges of the seed with a nail file, apart from the pointed end.

Not only will this allow for a quicker and greater uptake of moisture into the seed more makes it easier for the leaves to emerge from the shell without damage.
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Next the seeds can be soaked for several hours in warm water – not hot – as again this will speed up germination.

For the cautious grower, once you have removed the seeds from the water, remove any excess with a paper towel and then treat the seed with a fungicidal powder. This will help to reduce the incidence of fungal infections – especially if soil temperatures start to drop or if the young seedlings get overly wet.

SOWING PUMPKIN SEEDS INDOORS

.Start off with 6 inch pots with the bottom inch or so filled with a good quality seed mix such as John Innes ‘Seed and Potting’ compost. Take one seed and place it either on its side, or with the pointed end down, then fill the pot to within 1 inch of the top with more of the compost mix. Water thoroughly, and then move to a warm and sunny position such as south facing windowsill - preferably by a radiator, but not on a radiator. However if you have a heated propagator or germination mat – use that.

Once the new seedlings start to emerge – any time between 4 and 6 days - remove the basal heat, but keep them in a well lit area that receives as much direct sunlight as possible. If the seeds have not sprouted after ten days then consider that that batch has failed and you will need to make another sowing.

Your pumpkin seedlings will need to be watered every couple of days due to their high rate of growth but allow the surface to dry off before re-watering as this can tempt fungal infections. Also – after the first couple of days – you can commence feeding with a liquid fertiliser, but only at a half strength dose and only once a week.

Once the seedlings have been grown on for a couple of weeks they should be ready for transplanting outside so long as the threat of late frosts are over.

SOWING AND GROWING PUMPKINS OUTSIDE

The most important consideration with sowing pumpkin seeds outside is to make sure that the site receives as much direct sun as possible. Neither do you want a position that is particularly free draining soil as you pumpkins will require a lot of water in order to attain a decent size.

In addition, they will also require a large amount of soil nutrition and so it is well worth while digging in plenty of well-rotted farm manure a few weeks before planting.

If you are in an area that is prone to a lot of spring rain that you may also wish to mound up the soil where you will be sowing or planting your pumpkin seedlings so that they don’t become waterlogged at this early stage.

Mound sowing

Create a mound of soil three feet in diameter with a shallow trench surrounding it for collecting water. Plant four to five pumpkin seeds on each hill, spaced between six to eight inches apart. If you are intending planting more than one hill, make sure that each hill is at least 10 feet apart to give plants enough space to spread their tendrils. Once the seeds have germinated, remove all but the strongest seedling to continue on through to fruiting.

Row planting

This is similar to mound planting but instead you are creating an elevated row of soil with small, shallow trenches on either side to collect water. Plant 2 or 3 pumpkin seeds every 18 inches along the row. If you are planting multiple rows, each row should be at least 6 inches apart from its neighbour. Once the seeds have germinated, remove all but the strongest seedling in each grouping to continue through to fruiting.

For more information click onto:
Growing Cabbage from Seed
Growing Carrots
Growing Celery from Seed
Growing Parsnips from Seed
Gardenofeaden
How to Collect and Prepare Butternut Squash Seeds for propagation
How to Collect and Prepare Pumpkin Seeds for Germination
How to Cure and Store Pumpkins
How to Compost
How to Germinate and Grow Cucumbers from Seed
How to Germinate and Grow Melon Plants from Seed
How to Germinate and Grow Okra from Seed Indoors
How to Grow Amaranth from Seed
How to Grow Aubergines From Seed
How to Grow Beetroot from Seed
How to grow Brassicas from Seed
How to Grow Broccoli
How to Grow Butternut Squash
How to Grow Brussels Sprouts from Seed
How to Grow Butternut Squash from Seed
How to Grow Butternut Squash in Pots or Containers
How to Grow Cabbage from Seed
How to Grow Carrots from Seed
How to Grow Celery from Seed
How to Grow Chinese Spinach from Seed
How to Grow Cilantro
How to Grow Courgettes
How to Grow Cucumbers from Seed
How to Grow Eggplants from Seed
How to Grow From Seed
How to Grow Giant Onions
HOW TO GROW GIANT PUMPKINS
How to Grow Leeks from Seed
How to Grow Melon Plants from Seed Outdoors
How to Grow Okra from Seed Outdoors
How to grow Parsnips from Seed
How to Grow Peppadew Peppers from Seed
How to Grow Peppers
How to Grow Potatoes
How to Plant Pumpkins
How to Grow Pumpkins from Seed
How to Grow Pumpkins from Seed
How to Grow Radishes
How to Grow Red Kidney Beans from Dried Seed
How to Grow Runner Beans from Seed
How to Grow Spinach from Seed
How to Grow Sweet Corn from Seed
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Pots or Containers
How to Grow Tomatoes
How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed
How to Grow Vegetables?
How to Grow Watercress
How to Grow Watermelon Plants from Seed Outdoors
How to Make Spicy Pumpkin Soup
How to Propagate and Grow Chili Peppers from Seed
How to Propagate and Grow Sweet Peppers from Seed
How to Propagate and Grow the Bell Pepper from Seed
How to Sow and Grow Courgettes from Seed Indoors
How to Sow and Grow Spring Onions from Seed
How to Tell when Pumpkins are Ready to Harvest
Mexican Jumping Bean
Pumpkins
The History of the Jack O'Lantern Halloween Pumpkin
The Legend of the Jack O'Lantern Tradition
What is Composting?
What is a Pumpkin?
What is a Vegetable?
When do you harvest Broccoli
WHEN ARE PUMPKINS READY FOR HARVEST?
When to Harvest Pumpkins
When to harvest Pumpkins

HOW TO OVER-WINTER FUCHSIA’S

Image credit - http://nyackbackyard.blogspot.co.uk/


Although the majority of Fuchsia species are found in South America, there have become such a perennial favourite with the English gardener that you can be forgiven for thinking that they are some kind of hybridised, native woodland plant. Of course they are not which is why most of the more colourful and ‘blousy’ cultivars around today have almost no hope of surviving the winters of our northern European climate.

While it is true that small, pot grown fuchsias are relatively inexpensive to buy it can still be worth over wintering them for the following year - especially as many of the best varieties are almost always in short supply. Of course if you are growing the large columnar and standard forms you would be foolish not to over winter them due to the high cost of replacing them in the spring.

There are a number of ways to winterize fuchsias but they all end up doing the same thing and that is to allow the plant into fall into a dormant condition. Whatever you decide to do the plant is going to have to come under cool protection and you will need to start preparations once you start to see seasonal leaf fall on the local deciduous plants – this will be around September. You will want to make sure that from this point on that all the fuchsias you want to protect have been lifted and potted on. Now these plants will be quite happy remain outside but you will want to slowly reduce their watering and lay off the fertiliser.
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Now the actual timing for when fuchsias eventually come in will depend on the following three factors.

1. If they get hit by a surprise frost.
2. If they start to lose their leaves.
3. If you decide that it is too cold for them to stay outside any longer.

Once you have brought them in they will need to be cut back to ¼ of their original size and then have all remaining foliage or soft, green stem tissue removed. With regards to standard and columnar types, leave the central stems intact and cut back all other growth to ¼ of its original size.
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To maintain their dormancy they will need to be moved into a cool position such as a garage, basement, unheated porch or conservatory. Wherever they go it is the temperature that is important - they need to be above freezing yet below 6 degrees Celsius - around 2-3 degrees Celsius is best. While they are dormant, light is not important and certainly do not apply any fertilisers. The compost should be kept moist at best but never wet or water logged otherwise you are likely to lose the plant to fungal rots. It is quite normal to have the soil around the edges of the container completely dry through the entire dormancy period – but pay attention to the centre of the root ball as some water – however little – will still need to be applied on a month to month basis.

Come March they can be moved to a warmer, brighter position, but one that is still under protection. Watering can be gradually increased as the plant revives and begins to produce new growth.

After a couple of more weeks the plants can be acclimatised by placing them into a bright position outside but not in direct sunlight. Once the threat of late frosts are over the fuchsias can one more be planted outside into their final positions.

For more information click onto:
Can You Over-winter Citrus Outside?
Fuchsia thalia
Gardenofeaden
How and Why does Over-watering Kill Plants?
How do you Over-Winter Begonia Corms?
How to Over-Winter Brugmansia
How to Over-Winter Dahlia Tubers
How to Over-Winter Geraniums
How to Over-Winter Lily Bulbs
How to Over-Winter the Glory Lily
How to Over-Winter Rare and Species Tulips
How to Over-Winter Roses
How to Winterize Begonia Bulbs
How to Winterize Dahlias
How to Winterize Geraniums
How to Winterize Lilies
How to Protect and Over-Winter Bananas
How to Protect Tree Ferns Over Winter
How to Save and Recover an Over-watered Plant
The Monkey Puzzle Tree - Araucaria araucana

HOW TO COLLECT AND PREPARE PUMPKIN SEEDS FOR GERMINATION





To begin with - if you get a choice - choose the largest, healthiest specimen that you can find, discarding anything that is showing signs of disease.
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Image credit - Max Ronnersj√∂
When it comes to harvesting the pumpkin seeds you must wait until the fruit is ripe and ready for eating. To be on the safe side leave them indoors on a warm windowsill for day or two so that the seeds can develop further.
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Once you are happy that the pumpkin is ready, cut it open, scoop the seeds out into a sieve and then rinse them under a running cold tap. This will wash off most of the fibrous, jelly like coating which covers them and helps to prevent germination while they are still in the fruit.
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Once clear of the fibrous jelly, spread the seeds out onto a china plate to dry, then after a couple of days turn them over. Allow them to dry thoroughly - although this can a few weeks - but it is important to be sure because you do not want the seed rotting while they are in storage. Once properly dry, store in an air tight container and place in a cool dark place where they can remain viable for up to five years.

Max Ronnersj√∂ file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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Gardenofeaden

HOW TO OVER-WINTER THE GLORY LILY – Gloriosa rothschildiana





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Like so many exotics, the Glory Lily is not hardy when grown in a northern European climate, but don’t let that stop you from planting what is perhaps one of the most beautiful flowering plants that you can have in the garden. However, they are relatively expensive to buy and what you get for your money – root wise – is not going to grow into much in its first year. In fact, you are going to need to look at over-wintering you glory lily for at least a couple of seasons before you get anything of a decent enough size to look at.

Saving the tubers for over-wintering is very easy, but there is an element of cheating involved. The easiest way is to plant the tubers into pots first and then plant that pot into the soil. That way when it comes to lifting the tuberous root system – which is where next year’s plant will grow from – you know exactly where the tuber it is, you are not likely to lose it the borders once the foliage has died back and neither are you at risk from damaging it when you try and lift it.

You need to start preparing the Glory Lily for winterizing from about the end of September and this is done by withholding any further water.

You can either lift the pot and place it under cover, or you can protect the plant from rain using some kind of appropriate cover.

Whatever you decide to do you need to allow the compost or soil to dry out as this will encourage the foliage to die back. This is important as it allows nutrients to be drawn back into the root tuber which will be used for the following year’s growth.

Before the weather gets so cold that frosts are likely, bring the pot into a cool, dry position indoors where temperatures won’t get below 6 or 7 degrees Celsius. Light isn't important for over-wintering Glory Lily root tubers but good ventilation is.

During the early spring the root-ball can be potted on – but only if necessary – and watering can commence once more. Remember to only re-water the tuber once the compost has once again dried out. The new seasons growth should appear after about three weeks, and once the threat of frosts are over they can be planted – again in their pots - outside into their final position.

WARNING! Be careful when you are handling glory lily root tubers – especially if you have sensitive skin - as they are toxic.
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For more information click onto:

HOW TO OVER-WINTER GERANIUMS


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People don’t seem to bother with over-wintering geraniums anymore and this is probably down to two main reasons.

1. Geraniums are not as expensive as they used to be – so the financial need is not as strong, and
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2. The old ways of traditional gardening practice aren’t being handed down through the generations as they once were.

Because Geraniums do not possess a storage organ such as a bulb or a tuberous root, they must be over-wintered as soft, ‘green tissue’ that is either actively growing or semi-dormant. When preparing your plants you will need to choose the best quality stock so only select your healthiest looking specimens. Unfortunately - especially when they are grown outside - geraniums are at risk of infection from bacterial or viral diseases, and so discard anything that is showing signs of leaf spots, wilting, or have lesions on the stems

Although I remember my own grandfather wrapping up bare-root geraniums in old newspaper, I was too young to remember the details of his technique. However I have listed several ways below, all of which can be used to successfully care for your geraniums over-winter.

THE ‘INDOORS’ METHOD

With all these methods timing is important, so don’t leave it too late and get caught out by an early frost otherwise your stock is likely to be only fit for the compost heap. You will need be looking at beginning preparation for over-wintering around October but keep an eye on the forecasts for overnight temperatures and don’t risk leaving them out if temperatures start to move towards 6 Degrees Celsius.
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With this method – and you will need to have a little bit of space put aside for it - lift your geraniums with as much of their root undisturbed and attached, and pot them on into 6-8 inch diameter pots using any good free-draining, multipurpose compost – you may wish to add some additional horticultural grit or perlite to the mix for extra drainage. Cut each plant back to about 1/3 of its original height, then water in thoroughly.

Bring the geraniums under suitable protected covering such as a heated greenhouse or a cool bright room and treat as you would do a normal houseplant i.e. water weekly - but not too much - and feed ½ recommended fertiliser dose monthly. Initially, they will need to be kept in a well-lit location to help to establish them in their new pots but after 3 or 4 weeks they can be moved into a less well-lit position should you require the space. If you do so they will require even less water and fertiliser, in fact tries to keep them just on the dry side.

Leave them where they are until it is time to acclimatise them for outside planting come the spring, when you can begin to start watering and feeding as per normal. However, do not leave them outside permanently until the threat of frost is over.

THE ‘OUTDOORS’ METHOD

Again, lift your geraniums with as much of their root undisturbed and attached, and pot them on into 6-8 inch diameter pots using any good free-draining, multipurpose compost – once more, you may wish to add some additional horticultural grit or perlite to the mix for extra drainage.
Move them to the protection of a greenhouse or cool conservatory and treat as before until they have established in their pots.
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Come November, reduce the watering until the compost it almost dry then prune back the plants back to remove all of the soft, green growth. Cover the prepared plants with a fleece to help maintain an even temperature during the day and help prevent frost damage over night. If temperatures start to dip below 4 degrees Celsius- you may need to provide heat within the greenhouse - about 6-7 degrees - or bring the plants indoors until temperatures rise.

When kept in a greenhouse it is important to ventilate the greenhouse as often as the weather allows in order reducing the incidence of fungal rots. Inspect your plants weekly for fungal infection and remove and destroy any that showing the tell-tale signs.
Leave them where they are until it is time to acclimatise them for outside planting come the spring, when you can begin to start watering and feeding as per normal. However, do not leave them outside permanently until the threat of frost is over.

THE ‘TRADITIONAL’ METHOD – or rather ‘a’ traditional method

Once again you will need to carefully lift your geraniums before the first winter frost, but this time you need to gently shake all the soil from the roots – trying to do so without damaging the roots. They will then need to be stored in a cool dark position such as a basement where the temperature will remain a steady 5-7 degrees Celsius. The plants can either be hung upside down or – as my granddad probably did – wrap them in newspaper and placed into an open crate.

Once a month the roots will need to be soaked in room-temperature water for about an hour or so. Allow them to dry and then apply the plants with a protective fungicidal dust. You will find that during the course of this ‘enforced hibernation’ most of the leaves will dry up and fall off, but this is perfectly normal.

Come the early spring the plants can be potted on into 6-8 inch diameter pots using any good free-draining, multipurpose compost – again, you may wish to add some additional horticultural grit or perlite to the mix for extra drainage. Cut the plants back to about 1/3 of their original height, then water and fertilize as normal.

Move them to a protected, well-lit position to help them establish in their pots until the threat of late frosts are over. Now they can be put outside during the day - or under cool green house protection - for the next 2-3 weeks in order to acclimatise them, after which they can be planted into their final positions.

For further information click onto:

HOW TO OVER WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS



With milder winters becoming ever more common, there are now two schools of thought when it comes to over-wintering Dahlia tubers. The traditional method is to lift them and then store in a cool dry, frost free position, while the second and slightly more risky way is to leave them where they are but with the addition of extra insulation.

LIFTING AND STORING DAHLIA TUBERS

The practice of removing Dahlia tubers from the ground for over-wintering goes back to at least a couple of hundred years so you know that it is definitely going to work. The time to do this is always going to be dependent on the weather so come the autumn you will need to keep a close eye on your plants.
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As soon as the first good frost hits, the leaves on the Dahlia will blacken and the plant will naturally begin to move into its dormancy stage. However you will want to leave it a week or so before further preparation commences so that the plant can adjust to the seasonal change and absorb nutrients and carbohydrates from the stems back into the tubers.

Cut the stems to about 6 inches from the ground and then using a fork carefully lift the dahlia so that when removed from the soil the tubers remains intact. You will probably need to circle the root system with the fork first to help loosen the soil before lifting. About 1ft from the stem should be suffice. 

Once lifted, gently place the tuber clump onto the ground, then carefully remove as much soil as you can without breaking or cracking the ‘necks’ of the individual tubers. Unfortunately, a tuber with a cracked or broken neck will tend to rot and will not produce new growth next season.
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Remove any diseased or damaged tubers and trim off any fibrous roots to reduce the incidence of fungal infections, then wash the rest of the soil off with water and allow to dry – upside down - for a couple of days in a cool, frost-free environment.
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Prepare a container such as a seed tray or shallow box with a covering of horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite at the bottom. Now place the tubers into the containers and cover them with slightly moistened horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite. The container can now be placed into storage in a frost-free position such as a garage or basement or anywhere that has an even winter temperature of around that 4 – 7 Degrees Celsius.

During this storage time you should be examining the tubers at least once a month, throwing away any which are showing signs of rotting. If the tubers appear to be drying out, then sprinkle the covering medium with a small amount of water. If they to be appear too wet then remove them from their container and allow to dry off on some old newspaper for a couple of days before placing back into storage.

Come the following spring - and just before the growing season - divide the tuberous roots into sections using a sharp blade making sure that each section has at least one prominent bud. Dust each cut section with a fungicidal powder and allow them to dry for a couple of days. That way the cut surfaces have a chance to callous over before planting.

These new root sections can be potted on in John Innes No.1 but unlike most other plants it is important NOT to water them in. Label them and place them back into a frost-free area moving them into a bright position. Do not move into direct sunlight until the foliage has a chance to harden off.

OVER-WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS IN THE GROUND

Recent trials have shown that it isn't always necessary to lift and store Dahlia tubers so long as the ground is suitably prepared before planting. However, wet and freezing winters may still kill Dahlia tubers when they left in the ground, so it can still be worth lifting a few plants for storage – just to be on the safe side.

The key to successfully over-winter Dahlia tubers in the ground is to make sure that they were planted into a free draining soil in the first place as this will reduce the tubers becoming waterlogged during this risky part of the year. Also, it is advisable to plant them deeper in the soil than would normally be the practice - about 8 inches or so deep is fine.

The tubers will require additional protection to avoid them from being damaged by hard ground frosts. This can be achieved by employing by simple mulch such as straw, peat or even more soil. However using a traditional ‘Clamp’ will be the most effective.

HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL CLAMP

I know that these are not Dahlia tubers but it is a traditional clamp
Take some straw and cover over where the Dahlia tubers are under ground. Now position more straw - in a vertical fashion - so that it forms a raised mound above the tubers. When looking at it, the lengths of straw should now be sloping away from the top of the mound to the bottom of it so that it draws any water away from the center of the mound.

Next the straw mound is ‘earthed –up’ which is a bit like making a sand castle on the beach. You dig a moat around the outside and you throw the excavated soil on top of the straw mound. When you get to the top of the mound you will need to leave a little straw chimney. This allows the mound to ‘breath’ which helps to stop fungal rots from progressing inside. The last thing to do is to smooth over the soil sides so that if it does rain the water will run off down the sides rather than enter into the mound itself.
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The 'clamp' can be removed once the threat of frost is over.

A WORD OF WARNING

Slugs are very partial to the taste of fresh Dahlia growth and so it is important to remember to put down something to keep them well away. If you forget, all of your hard work would have been wasted and all you will have to show is a healthy batch of new slugs ready to damage other susceptible plants as they grow through.
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