Swenson Gardens

Monthly Archive: August 2016

USDA Zones 2-5 last day to order peonies is Monday, August 22, 2016!


Where has the 2016 peonies season gone? If you haven’t placed your order for Swenson Gardens peonies yet, USDA Zones 2-5 last day for 2016 delivery or pick up ordering is Monday, August 22, 2016! Online orders will close at the end of business that day and mail-in orders have to be RECEIVED that day. Here is the link for mail-in orders and info on pick up days. www.swensongardens.com/Home/HowToOrder If the link does not work within this blog post, go to www.SwensonGardens.com and click on ‘See how to order’ from our homepage.

The final day for USDA Zones 6-8a to order Swenson Gardens peonies is Friday, September 23, 2016. Any orders for USDA Zones 2-5 that are received AFTER Monday, August 22, 2016 will be shipped out in early October. If you are in USDA Zones 2-5, now is the time to place your order for Swenson Gardens peonies!


peony field jottings…


Ok so sometimes I get excited during the process of preparing and nurturing peonies! As you know our peony fertilizer production team is VERY important to us. Since we are a chemical free peony grower, what we put on and into the fields before planting our peonies are also very, very important. Knowing that our peony fertilizer production team only eats what we grow in the pastures and hay fields, how to best spread and amend that into our soil has been a struggle with our current, yes, manure spreader. Some of you may be thinking that I’ve lost it by getting excited about a manure spreader, but hold on. We want to make sure that the composted cow manure is spread evenly over the peony fields vs the clumps of manure that we were currently having with our old spreader. Case and point, we literally had to break up some of the clumps by hand with a pitchfork. Thankfully our old spreader broke down and the search was on to replace it. This used H&S 1506 came up on Craigslist so it was off to the sellers location to look at it. WOW! Twin hydraulic augers, TWO beater bars and flotation tires! I tried to contain my excitement on viewing this jewel so after a bit of negotiations, the 2-hour trip back to Howard Lake seemed like an eternity. Needless to say when I arrived back at the peony farm, family members looked at it and said ‘oh’. Now I’m talking ‘WOW’ here as this unit will break up all the clumps of composted cow manure and spread it evenly over the fields! What more could you ask for? Well the flotation tires help too as I probably won’t have to bring a chain along anymore in order to pull me out after getting stuck in the wet areas.

Seriously here folks, since we do not use chemicals and stimulants, the steps we take to make sure all facets of growing peonies are chemical free takes years of planning and preparation. Amending the peony soil with composted cow manure is one of the most important steps. This new spreader will save hours of manual labor to make sure it is amended evenly into the soil. Yes my grandma was right in amending her peonies with composted cow manure but now we are doing it on a scale that she would be proud of!

Peony farm jottings…


We have had another crazy week on the peony farm! Tabitha aka ‘Tabby’, gave us a new heifer calf. Mom and daughter are doing great. Normally she is our best cow when it comes to calving and care thereafter, but earlier this week, we had quite a scare. We use rotational grazing techniques on all our pasture land so it was time to move the herd into another unit. It is absolute chaos when moving them as ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ mentality is true. Basically when one cow enters into the new pasture the others are supposed to follow. Open the gate, get out of the way and watch real time funniest videos. Now don’t take this wrong as we LOVE all animals, but those of you who raise cattle you know what I mean when saying this, ‘cattle have no brains’! Yes I try to lead the herd through the gate first, but Tabby and her new calf where at the end of the cattle parade and couldn’t keep up with the single file line of cattle floats in front of them. Finally they caught up to the others, counted to make sure all parade participants were in the new pasture and then proceeded to close the gate.

Now it was on to the next evening project of disking our 2016 and 2017 fields for planting new peonies. Oh the joy to be done at 7 PM so I could watch the womens Olympic team gymnastics final. After putting my favorite tractor away, an 1968 Oliver 1550, I noticed Tabby was running around the pasture in utter distress. Ok first thing is to count the herd, all I could come up with is 23! There should be 24!!! Now for those of you as of late in this area, the mosquitoes are nasty from all the rain. In fact this week we had over 5 inches of rain and yes the new culverts worked marvelously on our driveway so it is still in tact. I really don’t like what some may call the other Minnesota State bird/insect and especially with the aforementioned statement on the womens gymnastics team final, so the choice was made to look for Tabby’s calf. Calling ‘Redd’, who doesn’t like cattle and electric fences from an early childhood experience, he and I set off in the gator to find the missing member of the peony fertilizer production team. Golly did I tell you I really despise mosquitoes? YIKES! Both Redd and I were miserable.

So it is now 8:10 PM and no sign of #24. Not kidding here, but I prayed that #24 would return or be safe until the morning since it is getting dark fast. Though we have not lost any calves to the local gang of coyotes, that thought is ever present when we have new calf’s. Redd also told me, I think that it was time to go in. Numerous walks in the fields, woods and trips around the perimeter fence line with the gator provided no clue where she had gone or perhaps snatched up by the ‘yote’ gang. As I was walking to plug in the outside fence charger, i happened to look up in the north field. There I saw #24 prancing towards the south fence line amidst the bellows of Tabby’s distressed mooing! Unplugged the fence charger and ranĀ  a 1/4 mile to that fence line where #24 couldn’t figure out how to reach her mommy. FInally #24 figured out how to get through the fence. Thank you Lord! Both mom and daughter are now reunited and needless to say, #24 stays by her moms side more than ever! Life on the peony farm during the Olympics…you have to love it!