Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012 Ashes on Peonies for Acidic Soil

Today I was excited to empty the ash bucket from my wood burning fireplace. I know that means I get to adjust the pH of the soil I grow my peonies in, naturally! There were a couple of spots in full sun that were starting to grow moss. Moss usually grows in shady, acidic soils. This spot is not shady. So I know I need to make some adjustments to make my acidic soil a bit more alkaline. The ashes from my fireplace are just the thing to do it! The soils in the southeastern United States are generally more acidic, but you can get your soil tested if you're not sure of the level. If you want to learn more, there's an article on Natural Fertilizer Materials from our local NC State University. If you're lucky enough to have a wood burning fireplace or even an outdoor firepit, be sure to save your wood ashes for your peonies!

Moss Growing in Peony Bed

Bucket with Wood Ashes for Peony Bed

Wood Ash on Peony Bed

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2012 Colorful Fall Peony Foliage

I took these fall peony pictures 2 weeks ago today. As you can see there is a great range of color - red tipped green, yellow, orange, red, even black! Some varieties definitely display more fall colors than others - the more peony varieties, the better the display. Not only is there a range of color depending on the variety, but at times, a variety of color on the same plant! There are many reasons to plant peonies - their interesting new growth in late winter, their beautiful blossoms in spring, their lush green foliage in summer, and an array of colorful foliage during the fall season when they're slowing storing their energy reserves for the next year. So if you needed another reason to plant peonies, here's one more! :)
Peony 'Belleville'
Peony 'Feather Top'
Peony 'Feather Top'
Peony 'Kansas'
Peony 'Seashell'
Peony 'Seashell'

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 Peony Mulch with Paper Bag Weed Barrier

With a half day off from work yesterday, I was able to get in a little bit of work in my yard. It's always tough in the fall when the time changes. The days are already getting shorter and the hour you lose just makes it that much darker when you finally do get home. I've been needing to mulch around the new peonies in my Saunders peony bed where I added on to it this fall. There is quite a bit of open space around some of them, and a few fall weeds had already begun to sprout. A great chemical free way to prevent weeds is with a layer of mulch, but what to do when the weeds are already sprouting? A good way is to lay down a barrier underneath the mulch. I am definitely not in favor of the plastic weed barriers. They never biodegrade. The weeds grown through them eventually, anyway, and you are left with a really big mess! What I like to do, that I've done in the past, is lay down a layer of brown paper as a weed barrier underneath the mulch. It protects the bed from weeds for a few seasons, and by the time is it no good, it has already started to biodegrade - so no mess! Also you can just keep adding layers of paper and mulch if you like. Here's a step by step pictorial to get you started.

Materials Needed: Paper Bags, Scissors, and Mulch

Peony Bed Addition with Weeds Sprouting

Peony Bed with Paper Bag Weed Barrier

Peony Bed with Mulch Piled on Paper Weed Bag Barrier

Peony Bed with Fresh Mulch Over a Paper Bag Weed Barrier