Peonies make a beautiful addition to the home garden and landscape! They add beauty with their wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of blooms as well as their wonderful fragrance. If planted correctly, peonies can last a long time in the garden from 50 to as much as 80 years. If you would like to plant peonies in your home landscape, fall is a good time to plant, so here are a few tips for planting perfect peonies.
Types & Cultivars:
There are three types of peonies for gardeners to consider for planting in the Kentucky garden.
- Herbaceous/garden peonies are herbaceous perennials that reach 20 to 36 inches in height. This type is the most common peony used and is the least expensive compared to other peonies.
- Tree peonies have woody stems that do not die back to the ground. They are a medium-sized shrub that reaches no more than 4 to 5 feet in height. Tree peonies are slow growing, so it may take four or more years to bloom well.
- Intersectional peonies are a hybrid type produced by crossing a herbaceous peony with a tree peony. These peonies get the best of both worlds. They possess the hardiness of the herbaceous peonies with the attractive flowers and foliage of the tree peonies. Itoh peonies, named by the first hybridizer Toichi Itoh, are a type of intersectional peony.
When purchasing peonies, purchase tubers from a reputable nursery catalog or from a reliable local garden center in the area. It is a good idea to buy and shop early to guarantee the best selection and variety desired. Inspect tubers for rots before planting.
To guarantee an extended blooming display, choose a mixture of early to mid- to late-season peony varieties to plant. By buying plants with different blooming seasons, gardeners are guaranteed 6 total weeks of peony blooms to enjoy. Make sure to read plant descriptions in catalogs and watch labels in garden centers to find this information.
Here are some noteworthy peony cultivars of different types captured by fellow Kentucky gardeners:
Best Location for Peonies: Plant peonies in well-drained soil. Wet locations promote root rot problems that will cause damage to future plants. If soil does not drain well, build and install raised beds to improve soil drainage. Before planting, incorporate 2 to 4 inches of rich compost or well-aged manure to the planting area for added organic content. Peonies perform best in full sun with 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Some tree type peonies will benefit from a little bit of shade or filtered sun in the afternoon to help their bloom color last longer.
When to Plant: Fall is the absolute best time to plant peonies. September and October are ideal months for planting.
Planting Procedures: In the ideal location, next prepare the site for planting. Dig the planting hole to a depth of 12 to 18 inches and a width of 18 inches wide. Remove soil from the planting hole and break up any clods that come to the surface.
For herbaceous peonies, plant tubers 1 to 2 inches below the soil level with the eyes facing upwards and the roots facing down. Plant tree peonies below the graft union with 4 to 5 inches of soil covering the graft. The graft is noticeable by the ridge on the stem and the difference in bark texture. This deep planting helps the graft develop its own root system.
A common reason that peonies do not bloom is due to gardeners planting the tubers too deep. Take extra precautions to ensure the correct depth for the peony being grown. Use a measuring tape or yardstick, if needed.
Space multiple plants 3 to 4 feet apart in the row. Once in place, work the soil around the fleshy roots and fill the planting hole back with remaining soil. Water plants thoroughly.
Other Maintenance Tips: Keep soil moist when the weather is dry. Water is also very important during bud formation and flowering. Mulch newly planted plants with a 2 to 3 inch layer of organic mulch such as clean straw, pine needles, or bark mulch in late fall to keep plants from heaving in and out of the soil. The mulch also deters weeds from germinating and conserves soil moisture.
When new shots begin to form in the spring, place a stake like a tomato cage or a flower stake over plants to hold blooms up after a heavy rainfall or harmful winds. Fertilize plants in early spring when growth is 12 inches tall and immediately after flowering. It is best to lightly cultivate around the crown of the plant with ¼ cup of 5-10-5 fertilizer and water it in.
For more information about planting peonies this fall or growing peonies in the garden, contact the Warren County Extension Office at (270) 842-1681.
Kristin G. Hildabrand
Warren County Extension Agent for Horticulture
If you enjoy cooking with garlic in the kitchen, you should try growing garlic in the garden! Garlic is an easy to grow crop for the Kentucky garden because it doesn’t have a lot of disease and insect pressure. Garlic produces large amounts if gardeners plant a recommended variety, plant in the right location and in the correct way, and provide proper maintenance when needed.
In Kentucky, garlic grows as a biennial crop. Gardeners plant garlic cloves in October or early November in order to establish a good root system. Make sure to plant garlic in loose well-drained soil with plenty of organic material. Soils that do not drain well will cause rotting to form. If soil types are not ideal, look into installing raised bed gardens, which are good options for growing garlic.
There are two types of garlic to grow in Kentucky, which are soft-neck or hard-neck garlic. Soft-neck garlic does not produce a scape and due to the soft neck nature, gardeners or market growers can braid their stems. Hard-neck garlic produces an elongated flower stalk known as a scape, which then forms a flower at the top called a bulbil. When the flower forms, remove it so that the developing garlic bulb increases in size. Since hard-neck garlic has better cold-hardiness, it generally performs better in Kentucky gardens.
Purchase certified seed stock from a reputable garden or nursery source. Cultivars will differ greatly from other varieties according to clove arrangement, number of cloves, size of cloves, color, flavor, and skin tightness. It is important to buy the specific garlic variety early in advance to guarantee the desired variety. The popular varieties tend to sell out before other varieties.
Soft-neck garlic is referred to as Silverskin, Artichoke, or Italian garlic. California Early and California Late are the best represented varieties for soft-neck types. The hard-neck may be purple, purple striped or white. Hard-neck varieties include Roja, German Red, Valenica, and Continental.
After the first hard frost, gardeners will need to apply a 2-4 inch layer of clean straw to insulate and protect the developing bulbs from cold temperatures. In spring, when garlic begins actively growing, gardeners will need to apply fertilizer. Garlic is ready for harvest in July or early August when leaf tops begin to dry and bend toward the ground.
For more information about growing garlic, check out these University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service publications:
- Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf
- Garlic & Elephant Garlic: http://www.uky.edu/ccd/sites/www.uky.edu.ccd/files/garlic.pdf
If you would like to watch more about growing garlic, see the links below from the Warren County Agriculture YouTube channel. Warren County Extension Agent for Horticulture Kristin Hildabrand discusses selecting garlic varieties and planting garlic on the Farm and Home Show. Click on the links below to see this information:
Selecting Garlic Varieties:
Kristin G. Hildabrand, Horticulture Extension Agent for Warren County
Do you have trouble establishing a good stand of grass in your home lawn? Do you notice bare spots? Do you have more weeds than grass? If you answered yes to any of these questions, September is a good month to carry out several lawn maintenance practices to help improve the appearance of your lawn.
- Soil Test, Soil Test, Soil Test!
The secret to having a green lawn is a soil test. Testing the soil gives homeowners the exact recommendations of lime and fertilizer rates needed to reach optimum plant growth. To improve the appearance of the lawn, first start with a soil test.
To test the soil for a home lawn, sample the top 2 to 4 inches of soil using a garden shovel or trowel. Collect soil from different locations in the lawn at random and make sure to avoid getting any grass clippings or leaves when sampling. Some people sample their front and back yards separately. Place soil in a clean five-gallon bucket. Repeat this same process 10 to 12 times and mix all the samples together. If there is any excess moisture in the soil, allow the sample to dry on newspaper for 24 hours.
After collecting soil, bring samples to the local extension office. In Warren County, soil tests cost $7.00 per sample. Some basic information about the crop being grown is needed to go along with the sample before being mailed. When results come back, extension agents review and sign the soil test recommendations. Soil test results generally take about 7 to 10 days to be processed.
- Sow Grass Seed
Mid-August through late September is the best time to establish new grass in the home lawn. The best type of grass to select for a home lawn situation is a turf type tall fescue variety. Purchase a recommended variety of turf type tall fescue with a dark green color and improved disease tolerance. Kentucky 31 fescue has a lighter green color and is less dense compared to newer tall fescue varieties. To see a list of recommended turf type tall fescue varieties, please visit this link: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/ukturf/tf.html.
Before sowing grass seed, make sure that the soil is prepared and ready in order to get good seed to soil contact. Seed tall fescue at 6 lbs. per 1,000 square feet using a rotary spreader. For best coverage, divide the seed in half and sow this half in one direction. Then, apply the other half of seed crosswise over the first run. Cover the seed by raking lightly or rolling with a water-ballast roller. Place a light covering of clean straw over top of the newly seeded area. Water the area frequently after sowing seed until seedlings germinate. For more information about lawn establishment in Kentucky, check out the AGR-50 publication through the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service found at this link: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR50/AGR50.pdf.
- Fall Lawn Fertilization
Fall is the absolute best time to fertilize cool season grasses in the home lawn. By performing this practice in the fall, the root system is stronger and can make it through the winter months. September, October, and November are the best months to apply fertilizer according to soil test recommendations.
The number of times nitrogen fertilizer is applied will depend on the lawn quality desired. Most general home lawns with no irrigation system are maintained at the low to medium maintenance levels. These levels require either one or two application of nitrogen. Make sure to have the soil tested to know these exact recommendations for the home lawn.
For more information about home lawn fertilization, see the AGR-212 publication for Fertilizing your Lawn: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR212/AGR212.pdf.
- Lawn Renovation Practices
In certain situations, homeowners may want to consider other lawn renovation practices. These situations are when there is less than 50% desirable turf, the soil is compacted, the need to decrease weeds, and to improve damaged areas of turf from heavy traffic or disease. To learn more about specific lawn renovation practices, visit AGR-51 publication for Renovating Your Lawn at this link: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/agr/agr51/agr51.pdf
September is the month for second chances in the home lawn! Take advantage of our soil testing services and get the soil tested. Look at purchasing an improved variety of tall fescue and sow seed in September. If needed, carry out other lawn renovation practices in the fall to improve the appearance. These turf tips will help put you on the right road to seeing results in the home lawn for next year!
Kristin G. Hildabrand, Horticulture Extension Agent for Warren County
Joanna visits with Josh Gilpin of VanBuren’s Markets in Morgantown to talk about his family farm.
The farm was developed around 1875 and is now in its sixth generation. Josh runs VanBuren’s Market which a retail side of the farm. The family also run row crops and a livestock side to the farm. At VanBuren’s Market, they provide locally grown food sources for the community that they live in! They have beef, pork, vegetables, and fresh cut flowers that are grown in Butler County. VanBuren Meats, their private labeling for Beef and Pork is farm raised and grain finished. They believe that finishing the livestock on grain provides the added flavor that our customers can never get enough of. Their vegetables and fresh cut flowers will be available seasonally but well worth the wait through winter. All of the produce will be field raised and quality checked before making it to your kitchen. They also look to add fruits and even more flowers to the market in the coming years. Check out this next video for a tasty Fresh Corn Salad using “ambrosia” sweet corn from VanBuren’s Market.
Corn is low in fat and is a good source of fiber and B vitamins, with 90 calories in a one-half cup serving. Look for ears with green shucks, moist stems, and silk ends that are free of decay. Kernels should be small, tender, plump, and milky when pierced. They should fill up all the spaces in the rows. The recipe is as followed:
5 ears of fresh corn, ½ cup diced red onion, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ cup freshly chopped basil.
Shuck and remove silks from corn. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn for 4 minutes. Drain. Cool by immersing in ice water. When corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the cob. Toss the kernels in a large bowl with red onion. Combine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over corn and gently toss. Chill to allow flavors to blend. Just before serving, add fresh basil.
Do you have trouble starting small seeded crops like lettuce, turnips, or cabbage in the garden? Does the seed end up blowing away in the wind or washing away after watering? Do you dread going back to thin out plants later?
If you answered “yes” to several of those questions, don’t worry, there is an easier solution called seed tape! Seed tape makes it easy for gardeners to grow crops from tiny seeds. With seed tape, gardeners apply seed to tape and then plant the entire seed tape outdoors in the garden. Gardeners don’t have to worry about seeds floating away and there is no need to thin out plants. An added bonus is the seed tape disintegrates overtime and returns nutrients to the soil.
Seed tape is available commercially through garden supply companies, however avid gardeners can make their own seed tape at home inexpensively! Making seed tape at home requires a few basic items and materials collected from around the home. Read here to find out how to make do-it-yourself (DIY) seed tape at home using this easy step- by- step photo guide.
Step 1: Gather up all supplies needed to make the seed tape. Grab a roll of toilet paper, make glue or use all-purpose glue, toothpick, garden seed packets, clear ruler, and a black permanent marker.
Step 2: Next, unroll the toilet paper from the roll and lay out on a flat even surface. Cut the toilet paper in half using a pair of scissors. The toilet paper serves as the “tape” portion of the seed tape project.
Step 3: Lay the seed tape on a flat surface and mark the correct plant spacing according to the crop being grown. Refer to the back of the seed packet to see how far apart to space between the seeds. Measure the plant distance using a ruler and mark the spot on the seed tape with the black permanent marker. If making multiple seed tapes for different crops, it is a good idea to label the seed tape with the crop name and the variety in the top right hand corner using an ink pen.
Step 4: Make the glue to adhere the seed to the tape. Mix 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water together in a small mixing bowl until a thick paste forms. If needed, add additional water to make a glue type consistency. All-purpose glue also works good for seed tape.
Step 5: Before starting this step, empty the contents of the seed packet on a white plate or white piece of paper. This step makes it easy for gardeners to see the seed and pick it up to go on the seed tape.
Dip the end of a toothpick into the glue and place a small dot on the seed tape. Then, take the toothpick and pick up a seed to place on top of the freshly applied glue. Continue this process until all the seed tape is filled. Allow the glue to dry and roll the tape on the toilet paper roll. Store it in the refrigerator until environmental conditions are ready for planting.
Step 6: When conditions are favorable, make a seed bed for planting. Place the seed tape in the planting row making sure to plant at the correct depth. Refer to the back of the seed packet for the correct planting depth. Lightly cover the seed tape with soil and water it in. Wait and watch for the seeds to germinate and come up in a perfectly straight row!
To watch this process from start to finish, click on the picture above or Click Here to view this how to video for making DIY seed tape from our Warren County Agriculture YouTube channel.
Kristin G. Hildabrand, Horticulture Extension Agent for Warren County
Kristin talks with Jonathan Price to discuss the apples at Jackson’s Orchard! Check out our 2014 interview with Bill Jackson, Jon’s grandfather and mentor, at https://youtu.be/X0hClePDK6A and make plans to visit soon to see all that has changes (and all that has stayed just perfect as it was).
“The orchard has been here for 53 years, going on 54. My grandparents bought it as an old run down farm. I’ve been here, I’ve been a part of it most of my life. I haven’t had a job outside of this.”
“To his (Bill Jackson, Jonathan’s grandfather) credit, if I’d spent 50 years building something, I’d be rather hesitant for somebody else to come in. He has very graciously given me plenty of opportunities to succeed and plenty of opportunities to fail. I’ve done both.”
“We were pruning trees one winter. Pruning trees is a long, tedious process. We had a nice day and got asked if a couple of us wanted to go play golf. I snapped back with no and stayed and pruned while the rest went to play golf. Then I’m sitting by myself pruning trees and began to wonder why I decided to stand here and prune trees instead.”
“I have 5 guys that are with me in the orchard everyday. I can’t say enough about them and what they bring to the table. I couldn’t do it without them.”
“We’re teaching the children what a good apple is, and we hope that later on in life they’ll eat apples, remember having them as a kid, and like them.”
Download the recipe for Joanna’s Apple Spinach Salad here!
National Farmers Market week is celebrated August 5th through August 11th this year. Many studies show that farmer’s markets are improving the community, the economy, and the well-being of citizens across the United States. According to the Farmers Market coalition group, here is a deeper look at the four key benefits of buying products at the local farmers market:
- #1- Stimulates Local Economies
- Growers selling locally create 13 full time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned.
- According to the US Census of Agriculture data, farms selling local food through direct to consumer marketing channels like the farmers market were more likely to remain in business than other farms not utilizing the direct to consumer marketing channels.
- #2- Preserves Americans Farmland
- Farmers markets provide beginning farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs entry points to start small and give them the opportunity to test new products. In the 2017 National Young Farmers Coalition survey, community supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets were the marketing channels that generated the highest proportion of new and beginning farmers’ sales.
- At a farmers market, 100% of food dollars goes back to the local farmer. When consumers spend at traditional food outlets, farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents of every food dollar.
- Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 52% increase in the number of farmers markets operating during the winter months. Those 1,864 winter markets provided an extended opportunity for vendors to do business and sell their products.
- #3- Increases Access to Fresh, Seasonal Produce
- A 2012 grocery retail study showed that consumers ranked farmers markets as the most trusted food outlet to supply local foods. Consumers rated it an 8.2, on a scale of 1-10. Natural food markets and locally owned grocery stores were next highest in the rankings.
- 7,377 markets and direct-marketing farmers accepted SNAP EBT in 2017, which resulted in $22 million in SNAP spent at farmers markets. This number means fresh food access and more money for small farmers.
- #4- Supports Healthy Communities
- A study lead by the Project for Public Spaces revealed that people who shop at the farmers markets have 15-20 social interactions per visit. As compared to only one or two social interactions per visit at the grocery store. This evidence shows that the social space at farmers markets has important public health implications.
After reading about the many benefits, it is important to take time to shop the farmers markets in your area! Shopping at the farmers market is a great way to support local food, farmers, and prosperity!
Stay tuned for more information coming later this week from Warren County Agriculture on others ideas to help celebrate national farmers market week in the Bowling Green area! Keep an eye on the Warren County Agriculture Facebook page for future videos and food demonstrations coming soon from other staff at the Extension Office! #nationalfarmersmarketweek2018 #kyproud
As the temperature starts to cool and the risk of frost becomes of concern, understand that summer vegetables are ending for the season. Don’t stop with summer vegetables! Gardening in the fall provides a new variety of vegetables such as fresh broccoli, greens, carrots, and radishes for the home gardener to enjoy!
How do you know when summer garden vegetables have finished producing for the year? Crops will begin to droop and will no longer produce fruit. Once this occurs, pull out the last of the summer crops. If diseased plants have been an issue, make sure to remove all plant material from the garden and dispose of them properly in the trash. Next, till up the ground about six to eight inches deep to prepare the ground for planting.
Before planting a fall vegetable garden, make sure to have the soil tested. Contact your local agriculture or horticulture extension agent to learn the correct procedure on how to collect a soil sample from the home vegetable garden. Collect the soil sample and take it to the extension office and expect to receive recommendations in one to two weeks. The soil testing report gives an overall picture of what the soil needs for optimum plant growth. August is a good time to have the soil tested, so gardeners have plenty of time to apply fertilizer before planting.
What to plant? When thinking about fall gardens, think green! Greens are great vegetables to grow when it starts to get cool. They even taste sweeter when picked after a frost. Some greens to plant are mustard greens, turnip greens, lettuce and spinach. Another great group of vegetables to grow are root vegetables. Carrots, radishes, and turnips grow well in the cooler months and give a great variety to the greens. So don’t stop now, get those seeds or small transplants planted and watch them grow!
For more information about fall gardening crops, check out the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service publication for Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky ID-128, http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf.
Written by: Katherine Ullery, Warren County Extension Master Gardener Intern
Do you have a lot of basil growing in the garden this year? If yes, take basil and magically turn it into pesto! Basil pesto is easy to make and only requires a few basic ingredients.
Basil offers gardeners unique flavors and varieties including holy basil, cinnamon basil, purple or opal basil and more. The classic type grown is the sweet basil. To make the best pesto, harvest leaves in the morning when oils are at their peak and take inside to the kitchen to process. Wash freshly harvested leaves under cool running water to remove any dirt and cut leaves from the stem. Put leaves in a salad spinner to remove excess water and spin dry.
Now, it is time to prepare the pesto! Take 1 cup of fresh basil and place it in a food processor. Next, add 3 tablespoons of roasted walnuts or pine nuts, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, and 2 to 3 cloves of garlic on top of the basil in the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine ingredients and then slowly add in olive oil until a smooth paste consistency.
Use freshly made basil pesto in soup, pasta, fish, or served on top of toasted bread. Store any leftover pesto in a closed container in the refrigerator for one week. Pesto is also good to freeze and then use when needed.
For other ideas on how to use fresh basil this season, check out these recipes from our Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud project that give suggestions on how to use basil as an appetizer, entrée, pasta, salad, and vegetable dish.
Tomato basil bruschetta: https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/sites/fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/tomato-basil-bruschetta-web-card_0.pdf
Mozzarella basil chicken with roasted grape tomatoes: https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/sites/fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/mozzarella-basil-chicken-w-roasted-grape-tomatoes-web-card_0.pdf
Herbed pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes: https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/sites/fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/herbed-pasta-with-roasted-cherry-tomatoes-web-card_1.pdf
Enjoy! Happy Gardening!
Kristin sits down with Diane Button from Button’s Wharf Farm in Glasgow, KY to talk about her high tunnel peppers, cowboy candy, pepper jam, and all her great added value commodities available at the SOKY Marketplace every weekend.
“It’s part of the family farm. My husband was born and raised on this farm.”
“When we built our house over here, in order to get an address for it we had to name the subdivision. So a very good friend of mine suggested that we call it something about a wharf since we were living on Barren River Lake.”
“I start my pepper plants by seed here in the house. I have a plant stand that was recommended to me by my horticulture agent. We seed our trays in February because they do grow slowly. Peppers go really slowly in my opinion. Then, by end of March, we’re ready to place them in the high tunnel.”
“I used to teach school, and I did so for almost 30 years, and that’s public work. Now I like being on the farm. I like taking seeds and putting them in the ground, and I love watching them grow. It never ceases to amaze me.”
Download the recipe for Joanna’s Jalapeño Pepper Poppers here!