Time to plot as­para­gus patch

The Hastings Mail - - WHAT’S ON - BAR­BARA SMITH

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.

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