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Farm Tales

Asparagus

Posted by MaryAnn the FarmWife on February 19, 2015 at 11:55 AM

We only have about 250 feet of asparagus beds. I say only because it is not enough.We should have 3 times that much.. or so I think. That is, until I have to do the weeding and mulching and fertilizing.

 

It was that time of year. John had already mowed down the dead foliage and it was my turn to get in there and get it cleaned up.

 

The problem is that it is a perenniel plant and as such it needs weeding and mulching every year. More than once if you can.

 

All it takes is a hand trowel and a bucket to collect the weeds and me with gloves on. Not too fancy and very low tech. I use mats in between the rows to help keep the weeding to a minimum...16 hours.

 

So I weeded and mulched...I hope the chickens don't start pecking around in there because they will make a mess out of my nice neat mulched beds...

About Asparagus:

Aparagus is a perenniel plant. If you choose to grow it, it will take about 2 or 3 years before you really get any to speak of. You will need to plan on a sunny location and prepare the bed. You will need about 2 foot wide rows for the plants to grow in. The plants will also get pretty tall and in our case they tend to flop over and all around... Plan carefully because you cannot really move it once it is in.

 

In the spring you plant this giant spider shaped crown with roots in a wide trench and cover it with soil. Water well and it will grow. A bit of a good fertilizer wouldn't hurt. And MULCH. Don't forget the mulch. There will be weeds.

The spears are the shoots that come out of the ground...Keep in mind that these shoots will turn into these huge feathery fernlike fronds that are pretty attractive. The plant has to have enough of these branches to generate energy to store in the roots for the next spring to grow more shoots to eat...so you have to let some go. You cannot keep picking it until there are no more spears...the first year pick none, the second year pick a few...the third year you can pick more.

Online Resources...

There are many places to order asparagus roots from. You should order an all male variety with the name Jersey in it. The male plants produce the most spears...

 

Help with planting and growing:

www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/asparagus-growing-guide


Raised Beds (April 22nd)

Posted by MaryAnn the FarmWife on April 28, 2013 at 9:15 PM

We have been stymied multiple times this year. It's still cold. The soil is cold. I am reusing this opening because it is going to be a running theme for a few weeks...

The vegetable garden, has it's good parts and it's not so good parts. After 8 years of trying to make things grow in a couple spots John finally caved. Last year we had the experiments. This year we have the real deal. There is a large area smack dab in the middle of the garden...you can't see it from here. Things just won't grow. It's always wet and soggy.

We are fortunate to have a lot of natural springs here. Really good fresh water comes out of them. I mean REALLY good fresh water. Our springs are at the head of the streams that flow down off of our ridge and they are some of the FEW natural trout breeding streams in New Jersey. They are small streams so the trout are small but they are real.

We are lucky enough to have one under the house...that one was diverted to run fresh water down to the hens. One of the others wound up in the garden. It just causes a wet area. It's not swampy, just wet. The water is about 6 inches down. Picture having your feet in a pool of water all day. That is what was happening to the plants...not good growing conditions. A little rain and well it was MUD.

So we tried a couple of odd things last year because we are really thrifty. No one in this house wanted to spend any real cash on something fancy like raised beds to get the plants out of the water with dry feet.

This was the pallets...we grew lettuce. It grew fine but not as big as if they were in the dirt....

Then there were the haybales...The idea came highly recommended and we had plenty of hay...well, not so great either. You can see them to the right of the pallet experiment... After much discussion and bargaining. He agreed to do the raised beds...He went out in super cold February and started to build them.

The peanut gallery of course came out to watch just in case we had some vegetables or melons to throw their way. It's kind of funny to watch the cows in the winter standing at the garden fence hoping for a fresh Jersey tomato to get tossed their way. Silly cows don't have calendars. John bought the lumber, and we positioned them on top of the landscape fabric. He built lovely 10 inch deep boxes. Then we cut the fabric out of the middles...

The lumber wasn't cheap for this many large boxes but the real cost was being delivered by tandem trucks...45 cubic yards of mushroom compost and another 45 cubic yards of topsoil. Thank goodness we have a nice medium sized tractor with a front end loader.

An inch of wood chips on the bottom was dumped in. Then we added three inches of mushroom compost. John loaded in another 4 or 5 inches of top soil...and we mixed it up a bit.

I will be using these for 'square foot gardening'. They will need to be watered more than the ground level plantings and we will have to compost into them more directly. The soil in them will deplete faster than the ground.

There will be plantings of lettuces, escarole, swiss chard, chois, Asian greens, and more. I planted three boxes already and they are mulched on top with mushroom compost.

Things are really slow growing though because it has been so very cold and the soil isn't really warmed up yet. As soon as these beds are full of gorgeous greens I will post a few pictures, :)

Online resources: We used none. I wish I could point you somewhere but not this time. I filled them with a limited concept of lasagne gardening. If you google it, it is a wonderful way to compost and grow things. The only problem was that we were starting in February and not last fall. We had to take a few shortcuts.

I just used John's ingenuity, back breaking labor and my checkbook.