ASPARAGUS

P. This vegetable is not suitable for a very small garden as it demands a fair amount of room, is not usually ready to cut until 4 years after sowing and should really be left undisturbed for as many years as possible — even up to 30 years, if the bed continues to crop well. Seed may be sown 2 in. deep in early April, thinning out when 6 in. high to about 18 in. apart. No cutting should take place until the fourth year but the female berrying plants are best discarded as noticed, since they do not crop as freely as the male plants. One-, two- or three-year-old plants can be obtained and set in their permanent quarters in April. The roots must never be allowed to dry-out before planting.

Asparagus beds should be raised about 6 in. above soil level, the beds being 4—5 ft. wide with a 2 ft. path between each bed. Choose a sunny position and ground with perfect drainage. Dig 2 spits deep and make sure the bottom spit is broken up thoroughly. Work in plenty of compost, well-rotted manure, hop manure and similar materials, plus a little bonemeal. Next take out a trench and make a ridge in the centre so that the plants are 6 in. beneath the top with the roots carefully spread out on both sides of the ridge. Established beds should receive a dressing of agricultural salt in late March — about 2 oz. per sq. yd. A thick mulch of well-rotted manure, compost or hop manure is also beneficial. The foliage should be removed when it turns yellow — usually in late October.

Cutting requires a little care. Some gardeners try to leave the same number of ‘sticks’ on each plant as they remove. Cut when the ‘sticks’ are about 7 in. long and try not to sever any ‘sticks’ still below soil level.

Cutting should cease after about mid-June to enable the plants to build up fresh foliage. Connover’s Colossal, Sutton’s Perfection and Early Giant Argenteuil are good varieties. The first-named is very satisfactory in the north. The asparagus beetle sometimes causes considerable injury to the foliage and stems, especially in the north; the best treatment is an insecticide dust applied as soon as the beetles or larvae are noticed.

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