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It is generally considered that Asparagus is difficult to grow but this is not so, although it does take up a rather large area of garden for the small owner, and only produces at most a crop for three months of the year.
Asparagus has large fleshy roots and requires a deep, very rich bed for the proper development of the plant. It used to be considered necessary to trench a b xl three feet deep by six feet wide and the length required. While the six-foot width is economical, for a bed of this size will hold trire, rows of plants, it is not necessary to trench so deeply, but the finished bed should be at leas two feet deep. If the bed is built up six inches above path level, then trenching to eighteen inches will be sufficient. The main thing to keep in mind is that Asparagus is a ver hungry vegetable, and that it is no use rying to grow it unless sufficient stable man re for its requirements is obtainable. The bad should be built with about equal parts of ' soil and stable manure, well mixed; this means that two cubic yards of stable manure are necessary to start a good bed six feet wide by twelve feet long, large enough to acconono date two dozen plants, which is sufficient. to provide for the average family.
The bed is prepared in early autumn and planted out during the winter months. A row of plants eighteen inches
apart is set down the centre of the bed, and two others as near as possible (six to nine inches) to the edges.
The "crowns" are set in prepared holes with the fleshy roots trained carefully downwards, and the top of the plant six inches below the surface. Cover with soil and press each side of the "crown" to make sure that the soil is firm, and fill up any unevenness. finally give a top dressing of manure.
The crowns chosen should be two-year-old plants. They must be allowed to establish themselves well before any cutting is done. It is a general rule not to cut the vegetable in the first season after planting. Let all the growths remain. They will feed the plants and establish them. In the autumn the tops will turn yellow and probably bear a number of bright red berries filled with seed. It is necessary to cut these growths and burn them before the seeds drop, for if allowed to germinate they would become weeds.
Cut Asparagus lightly in the second year and thereafter cut fully from the time of starting into growth until mid-December, but not beyond that date. The growths made during the remainder of the asparagus growing season should be allowed to develop to strengthen the plant. It is easily understood that too much cutting weakens them.
MANURING AND UPKEEP - Even though the bed has been started with a large quantity of manure it is still necessary to give constant doses as Asparagus is a very gross feeder. Apply a dressing of manure after cleaning the beds in the autumn. If stable manure is not available, seaweed makes an excellent mulch for the beds. Seaweed is rich in potash, one of the essential plant foods for Asparagus, which is, by the way, a native of the sea shore.
The best manure is five parts bone dust, two parts sulphate of potash and two and a half parts sulphate of ammonia used, after well mixing, at the rate of four ounces to the square yard. Three dressings should be given during the growing season.
Cultivation is essential. Weeds should never be allowed to develop in the Asparagus bed. This is not a difficult task for a fortnightly light hoeing will keep the bed clear.
If the beds get too high with the frequent manurings the top few inches of soil may be removed to leave space for the necessary mulch. The surplus soil can be used to good advantage in some other part of the garden.
Cutting Asparagus is done by inserting a knife, with sharpened tip, with great care alongside the shoot, and cutting at crown level (six inches below the soil) care being taken not to injure any developing shoots.