Friends we are anxiously awaiting the launch date from our webmaster. Yes he ran into a few setbacks due to the changes. He will be updating us more tomorrow. So please be patient…like a peony!
Monthly Archive: January 2016
Looking out at a couple of our peony fields today reminded me of what was and will be a sea of color in a few months. Though the redosier dogwoods upfront add a hint of color, it is still apparent that the winter ‘white’ is still the main color scheme this time of the season. Perhaps not as much white as our gardening friends in the mid-Atlantic and soon to be north easterners, but it is still ‘white’. This time of year provides many ‘what ifs’ in our gardening minds. So much so that I have been thinking over the years about how ‘we’ can improve our home gardens. From my previous posts on how ‘we’ prepare our soil on a large scale to grow our bare-root peonies, how can ‘we’ as home gardeners prepare our soil for peonies? Growing peonies that are chemical free is my passion! Might I perplex you a bit with this post and perhaps cause you to question ‘how to grow peonies’?
Since we are preparing our propagating fields in advance, how might that encourage you to prepare your growing sites in advance? Does adding chemically produced 10-10-10 or whatever flavor of instant fertilizer to our growing site cause peonies to grow faster? Even Milorganite, does that produce peonies faster? Case in point, in our growing fields that were prepared a year or two in advance saw significant increase in growth versus peonies that were planted around our home using our peony planting tips and chemical free peony starter fertilizer. Very interesting! We all want our bare-root peonies to grow as fast as they can, right? So I submit to you, how can peonies grow faster when their growing site nutrients and micro-nutrients have not been amended into the soil? The answer is they can’t! Soil amending, as we have seen and experienced in our growing fields, takes one to two years for nutrients to amend into the soil. Are we on to something here? The answer is definitely yes! As I mentioned above, my passion is to grow peonies without chemicals, period, but you now know my passion is also to grow peonies that are vigorous. Chemically produced fertilizers DO NOT amend the nutrients and micro-nutrients of the soil!
The waiting game! Some gardeners, including me at first, bought and planted potted peonies thinking the instant spring color was amazing! Well little did I realize that in another area of our home garden some of Roger Anderson’s intersectional hybrid peonies were planted as bare-root peonies in the fall. Oh the joy of having instant blooms of potted peonies that first year in our new home were replaced in the second and third year of oh where oh where did the potted peonies blooms go? The bare-root peonies had more blooms and vigor in the second and third year than the instant first year blooms of the potted peonies. Bare-root peonies acclimated to our growing site faster than potted peonies. Why? Potted peonies took an extra year to acclimate to their new growing site versus their comfy greenhouse led beginning. Amassed with every conceivable chemicals to help them ‘look good’ when first planted. Once the potted peonies realized they had to grow on their own, their life and vigor was set back knowing their comfy life was replaced with real world growing conditions.
Alas my conclusion, by preparing our growing site in advance allows the dormant bare-root peonies planted in the fall to taste the nutrients and micro-nutrients when they come out of dormancy in the spring! Geez you say, now I have to rethink my growing site years in advance? Well yes if you are like me! I would do the following this spring: 1) Plan where you intend to plant your 2017 bare-root peonies in the fall, yes 2017 fall peonies. 2) In the spring of 2016, excavate a 2′ wide by 2′ deep hole. 3) Put two shovel scoops of composted cow manure and one cup of Milorganite into the bottom of the hole and replace the excavated dirt. 4) Water in the dirt slowly. 5) Cut a 30″ circle of professional grade landscape fabric and staple it to your site location. 6) In the fall of 2016, take off the landscape fabric and excavate the same 2′ wide but now 1′ deep hole. 7) Put one shovel scoop of composted cow manure and one cup of Milorganite into the bottom of the hole and replace the excavated dirt. 8) Water in the dirt slowly. 9) Replace the landscape fabric and staple to your site location. 10) In the spring of 2017, take off the landscape fabric and excavate the same 2′ wide but now 6″ deep hole. 11) Put 1/2 shovel scoop of composted cow manure and 1/2 cup of Milorganite into the bottom of the hole and replace the excavated dirt. 12) Water in slowly. 13) Replace the landscape fabric and staple to your site location. 14) in the fall of 2017, plant your bare-root peonies as described in our planting tips but DO NOT ADD any composted cow manure and Milorganite! This now allows you to grow your peonies like we do in the fields! Yes it takes time, but remember what I said in the second paragraph above!
Ok for those of you who want to plan your site locations for the fall of 2016, here is a shorter version with a few less steps but the results will still help you! 1) In the spring of 2016, excavate a 2′ wide by 2′ deep hole. 2) Put two shovel scoops of composted cow manure and one cup of milorganite into the bottom of the hole and replace the dirt. 3) Water the dirt slowly. 4) Cut a 30″ circle of professional grade landscape fabric and staple it to your site location. 5) In the fall of 2016, plant your bare-root peonies as described in our planting tips and DO ADD additional composted cow manure and milorganite as described.
Perplexing? YES! How to grow peonies? YES! TIme consuming? YES! Good for bare-root peonies? YES! Worth it? YES! Time to change dear gardening friends how we all can grow vigorous, chemical free peonies!
The 2016 Swenson Gardens website is still in the capable hands of our webmaster. Speaking with him on Thursday, IF all the updates and changes go well, he is thinking by February 1st. Stay tuned for more real-time updates. Remember this picture of ‘Candy Stripe’ when our new website launches. Yes Candy Stripe is our most popular peony so you may want to order early! Think peonies!
Hard to believe 4000+ peony photos back in spring, 5-weeks of cropping peony photos, 2-weeks of writing text and 1-week of proofing is now down to a single CD! And who said peony farmers hibernate in the winter? The CD was delivered to our webmaster last night so we are in great hands! Stay tuned to our Facebook and Blog for more real time postings. We are still guessing by end of January due to a complete refresh, uploading text and photos. I see a flashlight at the end of the tunnel! Peonies forever!
Oh to be taking a snooze in the peony field like one of our cats Panda, Panda Bear…aka Toby. I’m afraid the only way we would be able to see him in the peony field now is casting his black coloring against the SNOW! Maybe 4″ on the ground as we are way below normal snowfall for this time of the year. Reminds me somewhat of last year except no below 0 F temps as of today. As I get wiser, not older of course, I’m okay with warmer temps in the winter for this cycle, but I LOVE snow. Yes dear gardening friends winter is my second favorite season. Spring is still my favorite but we have a few months to go!
Updating a new design for our website is a lengthy process. We were presented the new ‘look’ yesterday from our designer and the consensus is WOW…again! She has been with us since the beginning and knows us and more importantly you! We are amazed at her eye for detail, yet ease of use on compute and yes for this year, mobile. The 4,000+ original pictures are now down to a mere 1,000 or so. My guess as of today is by the end of January for launch date but stay tuned to the blog and Facebook for real time updates as we get closer to launching. One of the exciting factors in launching every year is the number of new varieties we will be offering. Well for our bloggers, 52 new varieties will be forthcoming! This is the largest number of new varieties we have ever offered!
Though our peonies are dormant in the fields, we certainly have not been dormant preparing to launch SwensonGardens.com new peony website!