Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spring Garden Dreams

Don and I--mostly Don--spent some time putting together two new raised beds for vegetable gardening this summer. These will be deep because we plant to plant asparagus, which is a deep-rooted vegetable. Here are some pictures:

These are two shorter beds that will be used for other vegetables:

We are eager to fill all the beds up, but we are still deciding what mixture of soil, nutrients, and organic matter to put in them. Asparagus are heavy feeders, so we will probably add a lot of composted manure. A layer of cardboard will be put across the bottom of the beds to kill the lawn underneath and to attract worms. We are hoping the raised beds will provide drainage, since we get heavy rains here and asparagus will get diseased if it sits in cold, wet soil.

Every article and website about how to plant and care for asparagus has different advice. Most websites recommend planting only the new hybrid varieties, but I am planting a mix of three different kinds, only one of which is a hybrid. The all-male hybrids produce better yields because the female plants produce fewer spears and spend energy trying to reproduce. They also produce berries which produce little asparagus weeds all over the bed. They have to be pulled up. The sites also say to plant 1-year-old crowns, but I ordered 2-year-old crowns before I read all that good advice. The experienced gardener who owns a local garden center recommends the 2-year-old crowns, though, so maybe they will turn out OK. I ordered 10 plants each of Jersey Knight, the all-male hybrid, Purple Passion, a sweet-tasting purple variety that turns green when cooked, and Mary Washington, a traditional heritage variety that is a tried and true favorite. On to sage:

My newly-transplanted sage plant is big and beautiful but stressed. The dogs have been digging all around it and it is losing the soil we have put in its bed. We may very well have to move it. We already plan to put some tall fencing around our other raised beds to keep the dogs out of it. But we are hoping their predatory behavior will dissuade neighborhood critters such as squirrels, raccoons, and possums from getting into our future produce.

We shall see.

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