Using Compost to Establishing a Home Asparagus Bed
Asparagus is that edible plant which is among the first
up each year. This spring-planted perennial can last for 20 years,
with some picking begun in the second season of growth.
Modern conventional agriculture relies on herbicides to
control weeds, and fertilizers for plant nutrition. If you have a
five acre field of asparagus, these chemicals may be necessary. But
for the home garden you can have all the weed control and fertilizer
you will ever need by using the compost made from your own grass
cuttings, fallen leaves, and yard trimmings.
You'll start by
ordering at least 25 one-year-old asparagus plants, called crowns.
Since asparagus starts growing at 50 degrees F, keep the crowns
refrigerated until planting time. Asparagus is planted at a depth of
about 6 inches and 12 to 18 inches apart. Follow the regular
fertilizer recommendations if the area in which you are going to
plant the asparagus crown is not very fertile. However, if compost
is not available, spade in two shovel fulls, as well, at each plant
location. Make the hole, or trench, large enough so that the roots
of the crown can be spread out with the pointed bud tips facing up,
cover with two inches of dirt, and water well. As the ferns grow,
add another 2" until backfilled completely.
Once the ferns
are on their way you can start using even more compost on the
asparagus bed. During the first year add 4" of compost on both sides
of the row in a one-foot band. This amazing free compost from your
own backyard will suppress weeds, hold moisture in the soil, and add
nutrients that the plants will need in the coming years. In
succeeding years, late in the fall or early in the spring, add
anther 4" to 6" onto the asparagus bed, as needed.
critter that can do serious damage to asparagus is--- you guessed
it, the asparagus beetle. If you got it, they'll find it. Damage is
done by the larvae, which eat the green covering of the ferns.
Mature asparagus beds can handle some bug activity, but the young
plants need protection. Rotenone, an organic root extract fatal to
the critters, is an effective remedy from this springtime pest.
Early in the morning, while the dew is beaded on the ferns, do a
light dusting of 1% rotenone powder onto the plants. Or, following
label directions, make us a solution of rotenone to spray on the
ferns with a small squeeze bottle sprayer.
enjoyed by all, here's a recipe for growing a European delicacy by
using compost as deep mulch. It's called white asparagus; very
expensive in any supermarket, if available at all. Early in the
spring, before any spears are up, pile the compost over the row to a
depth of at least one foot. As the white tips show through the
mound, gently push the compost aside to break off the long white
spears, then re-hill the compost over the row for the next day's
picking. Served with an herbal cream sauce, you'll have a dish
usually reserved for only the best continental restaurants, yet it's
free from your own backyard.
Compost will reward you with
bigger produce from the garden and more abundant flowers in the
yard. The asparagus will give you the first home-grown edibles in
the spring, can be grown as a tall backdrop in a planting bed, and
some of its ferns added to floral arrangements throughout the
Got you interested? Run the search term "asparagus
crowns" on the Web to get plant sources and more information.
Using Compost to Grow Flavorful Garlic
Garlic, the popular and healthy food ingredient, is a low
maintenance plant to grow and a long keeper, once harvested. You may
never need to buy it again. Just save some larger cloves for the
next year's planting.
Toward the middle of fall, loosen the
soil and mix in a few shovelfulls of compost. Plant each individual
garlic clove 2" to 4" deep and 6" apart with the pointed end up in a
sunny, well-drained location. After the initial late-season growth
of roots and maybe 2" of top growth, cover the bed with about 4" of
compost to protect the plants for the winter. Come spring, remove
the mulch to help heat the soil and, as the garlic grows, compost
can be put around the stalks to add nutrients, maintain an even soil
temperature, and suppress weeds. Keep watered during the spring
vegetative growth season. Then sit back and wait.
two types of authentic garlic. If you are growing a soft neck
(sativum) garlic you will not need to "top" the plant. But, if you
are growing a hard-necked garlic (ofeo), around the middle of June a
pencil-thin stalk will emerge from among the leaves and start to
form a loop. After it forms one full curl, cut off the top of the
stalk. These pruned scapes, or seed heads, can be used in cooking in
much the same way as regular garlic cloves. Harvest time comes as a
third of the leaves will have died back. Each of these leaves
extends down as a wrapper around the garlic bulb. The leaves that
are still green represent the wrappers that are protecting the bulb,
while the brown leaves that have died back have created the papers
around each clove inside the bulb.
Loosen the ground with a
digging fork; gently lift each garlic plant by hand. Let the plants
cure in a cool darkened place. Once the plants have partially dried,
the stalks can be trimmed and the bulbs braided to hang in your
kitchen to use as needed. Or the stalks can be cut off and the bulbs
left to dry completely. You'll want to continue this next year, once
you taste the special flavor of your own fall-planted, compost-fed