At Cricket Hill Garden we use these three soil amendments in combination around all of our peonies in the spring. We use the lime to raise the pH of the soil. Our natural pH is around 5.5, but with regular application of lime we have succeeded in raising it to around 6.5, the minimum threshold for good peony growth. We like to use calcitic lime because it contains a much higher percentage of calcium than regular garden lime. Calcium is a vital mineral to have in the soil; it helps the plants to form strong cell walls which are naturally more resistant to stress and disease. Calcitic lime also contains very little magnesium. Too much magnesium in the soil can render certain nutrients present in the soil unavailable to plants. Azomite, a crushed volcanic rock powder, contains 70 different minerals and trace elements. These micro-nutrients help facilitate healthy plant growth. We have found to be an excellent supplement for our peonies, other perennials as well as in the vegetable garden. Finally, we add a handful of low nitrogen fertilizer to the drip line of the peonies. We like to use North Country Organics Prostart. It is blend of greensand, bone char, sulfate of potash, non-Chilean nitrate, vegetable protein meal and animal protein meal such as feather meal. Again, this fertilizer is also very good for giving seedling transplants in the vegetable garden an extra boost of energy. Another good organic fertilizer to use would be Espona Bulb-tone (3-5-3).
This final step of ‘scratching’ the soil amendments and fertilizer into the ground is very important. If simply left on the surface, they will cake and not break down into the soil as quickly.