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First big frost

19 November 2019


There has been quite a hard frost during the night, producing spectacular scenes in the Kitchen Garden. The Fruit Cage looks particularly amazing with all its sweeping lines and netting picked out in glittering frost.

After spending several hours cleaning in Dad’s house (until now Dad’s little house has been very much his own domain but I am conscious that he is presently in a very frail condition and I am keen to get everything ready for him to return home). Afterwards, I spend a short time bringing in Dahlias before the daily hospital visit. I have now decided that I will keep the Dahlia tubers in the cold frames over Winter. They can remain in their clumps of soil, which will gradually dry out. I have made this decision for a number of reasons, firstly the cold frames are probably almost as sheltered as the basement and with the lids closed, they are completely dry. I have not had this facility in previous years, but it could work very well. I also intend to cover the tubers with newspaper and fleece for extra protection. Dahlia tubers are quite tough and the main reason for removing them from the beds is to start them into good growth before planting them out the next year, which will give them a chance to develop without being eaten by the slugs. The one year I left the tubers in, the slugs devoured any emerging shoots and prevented them from growing.

My other issue is space…. I have more than 200 Dahlias, many of them are now quite large clumps of tubers and there is a limit to the space available in the basement where I will also need to store the Cannas (which are also quite big) and the Begonias. Thank goodness for the cold frames, which are proving to be invaluable for a variety of uses. However, this does nudge me to think that the basement desperately needs sorting out… but maybe next year. It occurs to me that I might be able to over-winter some things in the Mushroom House in the future, which will help tremendously.

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