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anyone growing dahlias to eat?  RSS feed

 
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I love growing flowers but they have to be edible perennials (or easily saved seed annuals) or in someway beneficial to the overall picture, attractive to pollinators, natural dye plants, etc.  

I'm finally convinced that dahlias are worth the effort.

I bought a packet of seed and three tubers from Baker Creek.  The seeds germinated well but I lost several plants that I set out in the garden...success with the potted ones though and one is red petaled the other a magenta.  Two out of three tubers made it and they are the giant ones...bright lemon yellow.

I understand I need to lift the tubers in the fall and store them in a container where they won't freeze?  
It might be simpler to grow them all in pots next year than to have to dig them up again.

I learned too late that I could have pinched them back early on and had many more blooms...as it is there are still lots.

The petals taste good!
Will try a tuber in the fall.
Is anyone else growing them?
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I grow edible dahlias some years. Taste of a good tuber is like a water chestnut. Taste of a bad one is like chewing on a piece of rope.

Best storage for me is at room temperature, like in a plastic bag with a couple holes poked in it, and filled with peat.
 
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Gorgeous flowers.
 
Judith Browning
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denise ra wrote:Gorgeous flowers.



and these are just the tip of the iceberg

Apparently they make excellent cut flowers also, which is what we keep doing instead of eating them all.....the yellow one above is 7" across...a salad all on it's own...

Here's an image of other varieties...I think not all edible though? Only two out of three listings at Baker Creek said 'edible' flowers and tubers....that might be the difference in tuber quality that Joseph mentions above?
 
Judith Browning
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Here's a link to all of the dahlias at Baker Creek Seeds https://www.rareseeds.com/store/flowers/dahlia/

these are the two I'm growing this year....

Dinnerplate dahlia


Mignon single mix dahlia

 
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If you are looking for edible dahlia's, check out: webpage
 
Judith Browning
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Daniel Brockett wrote:If you are looking for edible dahlia's, check out: webpage



Thanks!
They are out of stock for several of the dahlia varieties but maybe that's a seasonal thing?

Looks like a great selection of other things too...I might be ordering from them in the spring.


Are you growing dahlias?
 
Daniel Brockett
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We purchased a number of items from them in the past, all very good.  The website says to check back in November, as that is when the tubers will be dug.  Make sure to check in with them often, things sell out quickly.

We are growing 78 varieties of dahlia's this year for cut flowers, not for eating.  They were purchased from Floret  It was a significant investment, but hopefully one that will pay for itself over time.
 
pollinator
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I had no idea they were edible. However it looks like this is the edible one https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlia_coccinea
as it says it was 'used as a food source by the Aztecs'. So as most garden dahlias are hybrids that might explain why they are a bit hit and miss. I shall have to borrow a few from my customers to try.

 
Judith Browning
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Henry Jabel wrote:I had no idea they were edible. However it looks like this is the edible one https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlia_coccinea
as it says it was 'used as a food source by the Aztecs'. So as most garden dahlias are hybrids that might explain why they are a bit hit and miss. I shall have to borrow a few from my customers to try.



I don't believe they are all edible.  I don't know if that means just unpalatable or something more.

This year I'm only growing the ones listed as edible.

The picture of the one in your link looks just like the red one I have here...the petals have a really nice flavor.
 
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From a close reading at cultivariable and other documents it seemed that more species than D ccccinea are edible, so hybrids may be worth giving a nibble.

There are some European selections that sound interesting, but aren't available in the US.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/11405748/Edible-dahlias-a-return-to-Aztec-roots.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-2945804/Swiss-growers-Lubera-develop-six-varieties-edible-dahlias.html
https://theunconventionalgardener.com/blog/dahlia-pan-haggerty/

My plan for next year is to grow miscellaneous Dahlia from seed and see if any are of interest in preserving as edibles.

I've notes and links to sources at https://www.evernote.com/shard/s6/sh/33420f98-b6ab-4a2a-a0ce-6a150b088e7a/8a4394b51720934e857a2adf1c9f8577
 
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I have dahlias that I grew from Baker Creeks cactus flowered mix last year, from seed. I was able to keep several over winter easily. I put the whole clump of tubers in a giant tub and layered my peat and vermiculite seed starting mix with them so no clumps were touching. They sat in my front room, just a little warmer than outside. Several in the ground and in pots also survived, but we pretty much didn't have a winter.

I haven't tasted the tubers yet, but will when I dig them this fall. I never thought of tasting the flower petals but I'll try that out this week. I wonder if petal taste is an indicator of tuber taste/ edibility?
 
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Judith Browning wrote:
They are out of stock for several of the dahlia varieties but maybe that's a seasonal thing?



We usually harvest dahlias around Thanksgiving and it takes a few weeks after that to get them cleaned up and listed in the catalog.  I expect to have tubers of four good edible varieties from our trials this year and we should also have plenty of true seed.

Odds of getting a good edible from D. coccinea are a bit better than D. pinnata.

We have taste tested several hundred ornamental varieties and selected 5 that had good flavor, so the odds of getting a good one from standard ornamental varieties aren't that great.  Crosses made between the best tasting varieties turn out about 20% progeny with good flavor, so there is plenty of potential for selecting good tasting varieties if you are willing to do a little work.

Take it easy the first few times you eat them in case you turn out to be sensitive to inulin.  Most people tolerate them very well, but anyone with fructose malabsorption is going to have a bad time.
 
Judith Browning
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William Whitson wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:
They are out of stock for several of the dahlia varieties but maybe that's a seasonal thing?



We usually harvest dahlias around Thanksgiving and it takes a few weeks after that to get them cleaned up and listed in the catalog.  I expect to have tubers of four good edible varieties from our trials this year and we should also have plenty of true seed.

Odds of getting a good edible from D. coccinea are a bit better than D. pinnata.

We have taste tested several hundred ornamental varieties and selected 5 that had good flavor, so the odds of getting a good one from standard ornamental varieties aren't that great.  Crosses made between the best tasting varieties turn out about 20% progeny with good flavor, so there is plenty of potential for selecting good tasting varieties if you are willing to do a little work.

Take it easy the first few times you eat them in case you turn out to be sensitive to inulin.  Most people tolerate them very well, but anyone with fructose malabsorption is going to have a bad time.



Thank you very much William for all of this information.  

I'm adding the link to your site here https://www.cultivariable.com/catalog/dahlia/ in case anyone missed it the first time above.

Should I go ahead and order now to be in line when the seeds are ready? just saw at your site that you don't preorder.

It sounds like anyone who has problems with the inulin in jerusalem artichokes might want to stay away from dahlia tubers then?  

I'd like to try to save seed from the ones I'm growing this year.


 
William Whitson
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Judith Browning wrote:

It sounds like anyone who has problems with the inulin in jerusalem artichokes might want to stay away from dahlia tubers then?  

I'd like to try to save seed from the ones I'm growing this year.



Yeah, I think anyone who has trouble with sunchoke probably also will with dahlia.  The research that I have read indicates that about 1 person in 3 has some level of fructose malabsorption and those people are generally going to find it difficult to digest fructose and, moreso, any kind of fructose polymer like inulin.  Sunflower family plants produce an enzyme over the winter than breaks down the polymers into simpler sugars, so they often become more digestible by spring.

You should definitely try growing out some of your own seeds.  Even if you don't get very palatable varieties, it is quite interesting to see the huge diversity in the flowers.

These are the flowers of fifteen good tasting selections of Dahlia coccinea:



Yikes!  That's big.
 
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William Whitson wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:

It sounds like anyone who has problems with the inulin in jerusalem artichokes might want to stay away from dahlia tubers then?  

I'd like to try to save seed from the ones I'm growing this year.



Yeah, I think anyone who has trouble with sunchoke probably also will with dahlia.  The research that I have read indicates that about 1 person in 3 has some level of fructose malabsorption and those people are generally going to find it difficult to digest fructose and, moreso, any kind of fructose polymer like inulin.  Sunflower family plants produce an enzyme over the winter than breaks down the polymers into simpler sugars, so they often become more digestible by spring.

You should definitely try growing out some of your own seeds.  Even if you don't get very palatable varieties, it is quite interesting to see the huge diversity in the flowers.

These are the flowers of fifteen good tasting selections of Dahlia coccinea:



Yikes!  That's big.



Just where is this species native to?
Can it grow in tropical Peru? Are there any distributors there?
 
William Whitson
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Dahlia coccinea is native to highland areas in Mexico.  It would probably do very well in the Andes, but I doubt it would thrive in lowland Peru.
 
Judith Browning
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I really wish I had pinched these back a bit before they set buds...the plant that this one is from, another of the 'dinner plate' tubers, is five feet tall and I had to stake it.  This flower was over eight inches across and has a wonderful flavor...maybe a bit like lettuce in texture?...such a knock out color in a salad.

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Judith Browning
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I'm wondering when to dig up my dahlia tubers.

They are still green and have leaves, a few buds and blooms and have survived a couple light frosts here.

We are due to get a freeze in a few days though so I'm wondering if I can just go ahead and cut the tops back before they die back naturally and lift the roots to store now?

The information with my tubers from baker creek said dig them after the tops have died back but I was worried that the tuber itself might be damaged by the freeze?

Also, do I then store them in damp or dry perlite or vermiculite?...would coir be OK?

thanks!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Judith: Just before a hard frost is a good time to dig Dahlias.They are tubers, so protected by the ground and won't be damaged by a hard frost.

The lady that grows dahlias for my farmer's market stores them dry, in plastic bags with a few holes poked in them with a pencil, and some vermiculite. Coir or peat would also be appropriate.

 
Judith Browning
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Thanks Joseph!  
I went ahead and dug the two 'dinner plate' tubers because I was curious.  Some of the tubers disconnected in the process...I hope those will survive winter storage?

The third plant on the right is one of the ones I grew from seed...it didn't flower but produced some small tubers.

We ate one that I damaged with the shovel and it was delicious...slightly fibrous but very juicy and flavorful.  

I forgot to put something in the photo for scale.  The long ones are around four inches and the round, more potato like one is three by two inches or so.

The other two plants are in pots so I might bring them inside on the cold nights for a bit yet before digging them.
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Mary Hysong
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I didn't know dahlias were edible until I ran across this thread. Last year I grew some cactus flowered ones from Baker Creek seed. Some in pots and some in the ground. The potted ones I kept by layering the crowns in a giant tub in peat based potting soil. To my surprise the ones in the ground survived on their own, but we did have a real mild winter.

This year I've been tasting the roots as I harvest. The main flavor /texture is crispy, crunchy, juicy. Some have almost a spicey flavor and one had a piney/resinous after taste. I've been packing individual crowns in old feed bags of potting soil with a note on flower color and taste written on them. Some were a little fibrous but not bad. Next spring I'll propagate the ones I liked best with the prettiest flowers and I may start the rest of the seeds I have from the original packet to see what other colors and flavors I get. I sell a lot of flowers at market so getting a twofer is great.

I'll see if I can attach some pics of the flowers.
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