The first frosts arrived last week, killing the dahlia foliage. Today is the first opportunity I have had to cut down the dead leaves and tidy things up. I usually dig up the tubers and overwinter them in a shed, but last year I discovered that, despite temperatures going down to -15, those tubers that I left in the ground survived.
So this year I'm just digging up one example of each kind of dahlia, and storing that indoors, on the basis that even if all of those that are left outside die, I can start afresh with my indoor stock. I'm covering those left in the ground with a thick layer of wood shreddings, which should help keep them insulated from the worst of the cold.
I really should have labelled all of the ones I wanted to dig up, before they got frosted. The flowers lose their colour and shape once frozen, so I have to rely on memory to tell me which ones are which. I think I've got it pretty much right, but I won't know for sure until next Spring.
And I have joined a local gardening club, motivated by the discount offered on Sutton's seeds. Chose from their online catalogue, place the order through the club, apply the discount, pay in euros. I buy both flower seed and veggies, but I'm not really motivated to grow vegetables that you can buy in the supermarkets. I like to grow things that are hard to find here, or are really expensive. Sweet corn is thought to be for cows only, so is hard to find, and the same is true of parsnips. Butternut squash are a bit of an oddity, and really hot chillis are hard to find. And purple sprouting broccoli is unheard of, so I have some of that growing this year, with more seed on the way for next.
I have this idea in my head that it would be nice to grow really fresh veg of all kinds, to cook for gîte customers, and perhaps one day I will realise this ambition. For the moment, limits on time and space mean I have to stick with the rarities. But I do like the idea of seasonal fruit and veg; recent menus for our gîte visitors have included hot, thick soups based on pumpkins or lentils, and puddings of things like poached pears. Yum!