Swenson Gardens

Peony field jottings…Part 3


Where has all the alfalfa gone? As I mentioned in previous post, this field is getting ready for new peonies! Composted cow manure and our secret peony starter fertilizer was spread first on top of the alfalfa. Then within the hour i had to work really hard climbing up into the tractor in order to plow the field. (Nobody bought me a Blizzard after I worked so hard!) This tractor has been a Godsend to our peony farm. Large enough to handle all our attachments, field work; yet small enough to fit between the peony rows. The problem with applying any fertilizer topographically is the fact that most nutrients leach out before any beneficial nutrients can amend into the soil. Take care of the soil and who cares what you do above the ground! I’ve never understood why crop farmers add manure in late fall and winter when the ground is frozen? By the time the manure is worked into the soil in the spring, all nutrients have leached out and sterilized sitting on top of the ground. My dad always told me when he was farming that the sooner you can work the manure into the ground the better for the soil. Thanks dad as that now bodes well for preparing our peony propagation fields.  Back to this field, in the think SPRING we add another round of fertilizer and then disk harrow it. For home gardeners, if you add any fertilizer to gardens, perennials, shrubs and trees, make sure to work it into the soil. Don’t just spread it around on top of the soil. Peonies especially will not benefit from topographic applications. (Footnote DO NOT use fertilizers you spray on to the foliage!) You are wasting money! Instead next July, take a 15″ long drain tile spade and step it into the ground as far as far as you can at the drip line of your peony. With spade in the ground, pull it back towards you, pour 1/2 cup of Milorganite in the space provided by the shovel blade and water it in. Take the shovel out of the ground and tamp the soil down. PLEASE NOTE, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS IF YOU HAVE PLANTED PEONIES THE SWENSON GARDENS WAY! Only do this if you have other peonies that are at least three years old that were not planted the Swenson Gardens way!

You know, I think I’m going to get a Blizzard tonight and celebrate plowing this peony field!

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