Time to plot asparagus patch
watered. Dig it over and incorporate compost, blood and bone, sheep pellets, aged animal manure for added humus and dolomite lime for a slightly alkaline pH (6.0-6.5). Let it settle for a few weeks before 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. 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! This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get growing, from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For gardening advice delivered to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Get Growing at: getgrowing.co.nz
herbs prefer you can modify a spot to suit them. Dig a hole four times wider and twice as deep as the rootball of the herb. Put a layer of gravel or crushed scoria in the bottom. Be generous and allow for the size of the full-grown plant – a 2-litre container’s worth for thyme but half a bucket for a large rosemary. Place the plant so that the top of the rootball will be level with the surface of the stones or other mulch. Backfill the planting hole with the original soil mixed with more gravel. Alternatively, grow herbs in pots, raised beds or small mounds to help keep the roots out of cold, water-logged soil over winter.