Asparagus bed takes careful preparation

March 01, 1992|By C.Z. Guest | C.Z. Guest,Copley News Service

A bed of asparagus is a long-term investment in great eating. For this reason, the effort involved in proper soil preparation is well worth every minute. Early spring is the best time to start a bed.

Asparagus demands a sunny location, so work the soil deeply, at least to a depth of three spade blades, and incorporate ample quantities of manure, adding about 5 pounds of 10-6-4 fertilizer per 100 square feet.

Dig your trench about 6 inches deep and 8 inches wide. Set the plants about 15 inches apart in the trench, covering the crowns with 2 inches of prepared soil. Distance between trenches should be 4 feet.

As growth starts, keep filling in the trench with soil until the top of the soil in the trench is level with that on either side.

The first year, allow all the stalks to grow and produce their ferny top growth without harvesting. Allow this to stand over the winter for protection, then remove the dead tops in late winter or early spring, before the new growth starts. At the same time, add 5 pounds of 10-6-4 per 100 square feet.

In the second year, you can harvest young shoots sparingly by cutting or breaking them off at ground level, but do so carefully to avoid injuring the neighboring shoots that have not broken the soil surface.

It is most important to wait until the bed is well established before harvesting. If the bed has started well, a few spears may be cut the second year, a few more spears the third year. A full crop should not be harvested until the fourth year.

By following this procedure, in the succeeding years, you can harvest freely.

Q. Last fall we took our geraniums out of the pots and hung them in the basement, as you suggested. When should they be repotted, and should they be pruned?

A. Take your geraniums down in early March, prune them back 3 to 4 inches (the roots as well), and plant them in a pro-mix commercial soil. Give them one good soaking and put them in a light, cool place without drafts. Use a liquid fertilizer every two weeks.

TTC In May, when the weather warms up, take your geraniums outdoors and plunge the plants, pots and all, right into the ground.

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