Time to plot asparagus patch
planting. Hoe down any weeds that pop up and dig out perennial weeds. You might want to add an insulating layer of weedsuppressing mulch as well.
When you’re ready to plant, dig a hole 20cm wide and 20cm deep with a flat base for each crown. Allow 20cm between each – a diagonal grid pattern makes efficient use of space. Digging 20cm wide trenches will speed things up if you have a lot of plants. A staggered double row allows you to pick the spears without walking on the beds, but there’s room for more plants in large rectangular beds and it’s much easier to contain the exuberant but rather messy ferny fronds.
Dr Fallon recommends covering asparagus crowns with 5cm of loose
soil. This will ensure they get away to a strong start. During the following summer and autumn slowly fill the trench with soil as you hoe any weeds on the sides of the trench. By the following winter, the trench should be filled with soil and the surface should be flat again. Make sure you’ve got everything ready, even if you don’t actually start sowing until August. Sort out your seed stash and buy replacements or try some new varieties. Clean punnets and seed trays. Buy fresh seed-raising mix. Make some plant labels. Above all, work out how you are going to keep your seed trays warm and sheltered. Many seeds won’t germinate if the soil is too cold. For example the optimum soil temperature for germinating tomatoes is 20-25ºC. Kings Seeds has the germination temperatures for their seeds online and in their catalogue. Heat pads with a thermostat are a bit pricey but last for years and are worth it if you are growing a lot of plants from seed. To cut costs, look for second-hand ones on community sites such as www.neighbourly.co.nz. Homemade heat pads can be made from LED rope lights or recycled waterbed heaters. But be careful! Water and electricity are not a good mix. Be sure they don’t overheat and cook your plants. For smaller batches of seedlings think about the warm spots in your house like on the top of your fridge. At my place, the underfloor heating works a treat but I imagine this wouldn’t work for households with either pets or toddlers!