Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tips on Growing Dahlias

Dahlias are a beautiful flower and an example of a tuber, which is a long root that is planted in the spring. Dahlias aren't hardy for those of us in cold climates. The tubers must be dug up each year and stored if they are to be saved from year to year. Many gardeners do this, and increase their dahlia stock each year. I have some basic tips today for growing this old fashioned flower.

Dahlia tubers should be planted after all frost has passed. The soil needs to be worked and compost or other organic matter added in so it's loose and fertile. Some gardeners add bone meal before planting. A 1/2 cup or so for each tuber works well. Work it into the soil before planting. Dahlias should be planted in full sun, and kept watered but never soggy. You'll also need to keep the bed weed free because they are heavy feeders which means they don't share well. Raised beds work very well for Dahlias.

Tubers such as dahlias are planted by laying the tuber on it's side with "the eye" facing up. This is where the stem will shoot up from. You should be able to see this be examining the tuber root. A depth of 6 inches is usually recommended. Don't pack the soil on top too firmly, but fill it back in gently and water.

Unless you are planting dwarf Dahlias, they most likely will need support, especially the larger varieties. Plan ahead by putting in supports as you plant. Dahlias also work well planted in containers. They are beautiful old fashioned flowers that come in many sizes and colors. I've grown dwarf dahlias in porch boxes with great success. Purchase them online or at local garden centers. I often buy the dwarf dahlias as bedding plants in early summer.

On OFL we have tips on growing zinnias which are similar to Dahlias but they are very easy to grow from seed.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

An Easy Grilled Menu

Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values.... God made life simple. It is man who complicates it. ~Charles A. Lindbergh

I've been grilling on days that it's not too windy, nor too cold, or it isn't sleeting, snowing or raining. In Michigan those days can never be planned for:) I have two recipes below that you can use for an easy grilled menu by adding a salad or rice and a simple dessert. The kabobs call for steak, but you could use boneless pork or chicken as well. I hope everyone is enjoying spring!

Guacamole With A Twist

2 large ripe avocados
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion, minced
2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh if possible)
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 1/2 tsp. minced jalapeno or other chilies
2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. Use a spoon to remove the avocado from the skin. Cut it into 1/2 inch chunks and place into a bowl. Add the tomatoes, onion, orange juice, cilantro, chilies, lime juice and salt. Mix and serve with tortilla chips.

Savory Grilled Kabobs

1 pound boneless top sirloin steak, fat removed
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
pan spray
1 large red onion, quartered and separated
1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, 1 inch chunks
16 cherry tomatoes

Cut the steak into one inch cubes and place into a bowl. Sprinkle
with the spices. Salt can be left out or used sparingly. Toss with
the steak, and allow to sit for 15 minutes or up to an hour in the
refrigerator. Thread the steak, and the vegetables on metal skewers,
alternating. Cook on a preheated grill that the rack has been sprayed with
the cooking spray beforehand. Grill about 4 minutes on each side until
the steak is done to desired doneness. Serves 4.

On OFL we have another nice grilling menu.