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Asparagus

The last thirty-five years has seen a great levelling out of social distinctions and many things which were the prerogative of one class are now shared more widely. Curiously enough, the type of what might be called luxury veget­ables has increased very little. Asparagus could be placed in this category and fewer asparagus beds are laid down now, partly because of the space the beds or rows occupy in relation to the size of the ordinary garden and partly because of the length of time that must elapse from seed to cutting. This is another crop which can be grown in the flower garden if the temptation to cut the decorative foliage in summer can be resisted.
asparagus how to grow

Asparagus may be grown as a single row crop and in this way does not occupy so much space as would a bed. The raised bed certainly has advantages especially in wet districts or where the soil is thin.

Beds are best prepared some months in advance of planting which should be done in April. First mark out one bed about 4ft. wide and as long as is convenient. Double dig this and add as much manure as possible, then dig out a path-like strip on either side about 2ft. wide and spread this soil on the bed. Into this work bonemeal and muriate of potash at 30zs. and Zozs. per sq. yd. respectively. Do this some months in advance of planting and allow to settle. Work in old mortar rubble or crushed limestone, using an ordinary bucketful for 6 sq. yds. On light soils use half this quantity. Salt is beneficial, particularly on light sandy soils, a dressing of an ounce to the square yard in mid April being followed after a three week interval by another smaller amount. As it takes three years from seed before the plants are big enough to plant out, it pays to buy in three-year-old plants, even then no cutting must be taken the season following planting. Subsequent cultivation consists of keeping the bed free from weeds and keeping the soil fertile either by giving a spring dressing of manure or by watering during the growing season, with liquid manure. Row cropping is no different from planting out a row of lettuces, allow a space of 2ft. 6ins. on each side of the row and space the plants at about l5ins. apart-spacing in the bed the same, i.e., 15ins. from plant to plant. Never cut after the end of June, but allow the foliage to develop, cutting this down in November. Clumps of fine plants dotted about in the herbaceous border will provide several boilings of the exquisitely flavoured vegetable and later in the year the fern-like foliage looks really attractive amongst the summer flowers. If this foliage is snipped for use in vases in the house, grow a few plants separately for this purpose, as the result of foliage cutting is to make the edible heads smaller each year. Connovers Colossal is the most widely grown variety but other good sorts are Argenteuil, Kidners strain and White Cap.

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