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Dahlia Project Update
by Suraya David-Sadira, FTT and Assistant Mini-Farm Manager, TJC

In 2021, we established an experimental 10-Bed Unit at The Jeavons Center with a diet design including dahlias as a versatile carbon/calorie/income crop. This is part four in a five-part series on this project. You can find a good intro to edible dahlias here.

Dahlia tubers stored in shredded paper and plastic bags for planting in the 2023 seasonHere at TJC we are excited that it is beginning to show signs of spring. Roses are budding, tubers are sprouting, winter crop growth is speeding up, and we are starting to flat our brassicas. I thought I’d give a little update on how the dahlia storage has gone so far and discuss how we will be structuring further research on the dahlia varieties.

I’m happy to report that our new storage technique is a success. Last season, we stored the tubers in cardboard boxes, spraying them with water when they dried out, with mixed results. This time, we stored them in sealed plastic bags, surrounded by shredded office paper, as it was what we had available. I believe coco coir would have worked just as well, and I suspect whatever dry papery substrate you have around (dried grass/leaves, etc.) would work too. When I inspected them on February 10th, all of the tubers were looking wonderfully healthy!!

Building our dahlia cultivation skills and observing different growing methods over the past two years, we have come to understand their preferred growing conditions. This year, we will begin expanding the experiment to test which varieties produce the most biomass, flowers, and edible tubers. From the varieties we have grown so far, we will choose 4-6 varieties and grow 25-50 sq ft of each. Decreasing the number of varieties grown and increasing the growing area for each tuber will allow us to gather specific data on each variety. We will keep detailed records to assess which variety can produce the greatest amount of calories, compost material, and income. I look forward to providing you with more findings as the season progresses. If you are interested in keeping data on your favorite dahlia variety and want to share your findings with us, please reach out to Surayasadira. ecologyaction[at] and I will send you a data sheet and instructions on how to follow our data gathering guidelines

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