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Monday, July 7, 2008

B is For Bare Root Planting


Bare root or potted plants--what's your pleasure? Both have benefits. Let's examine the bare root. Checking at your local nursery you can expect to pay between forty and seventy percent less for your plants - and nearly the same benefits with a catalog nursery.

Saving money may be the reason you took up gardening in the first place. Bare root purchases will be in line with that. Other than cost what else would stimulate you to purchase this type of plant?

The plants usually have a more extensive root system which will give them a good start once in the ground. You can see how root to top growth is balanced and you can trim back the roots before planing to encourage new vigorous growth, in most cases.

You can sometimes find rare and unusual varieties that are not available in the potted variety.

Last but not least, the bare roots may actually take root and grow better as they more easily adapt to your soil.

If you buy bare root plants, they require immediate care of the delicate hold they have on life. Bare root plants are like infants, very vulnerable. What you do immediately when they arrive at your home whether from local nursery, or mail order catalog, is important for their survival and productive growth.

If you are unable to plant them right away you can use one of the three methods to make their wait safer and more comfortable.

1. Leave them in the original packing material and keep them in a cool dry place. Check them to be sure the roots are not dry - if they are, sprinkle with a small amount of water as necessary until you can plant them, hopefully in a few days.

2. Use any large pot saved from another year to pot them up. Use good soil, compost and peat moss mixed to keep them alive and let them begin to grow.

3. Dig a shallow trench in a partly shaded area of your garden/yard/area where you intend to set them out. Do this where you can conveniently water them as necessary. Lay the plants on their sides with the roots in the trench and cover them with the same type of mixture of good soil, compost and peat moss. They will be good for a while there.

Make sure you label your plants held over in these ways. It's so easy to forget what is where and planting instructions may vary for those held in waiting.

You may discover that bare root is better.

Friday, July 4, 2008

ASPARAGUS


ASPARAGUS

Asparagus beds can be productive for 35-40 years if you keep the soil fertile and the weeds under control and the asparagus beetle at bay. So how do you go about this and why am I talking asparagus when you can only harvest them until the peas begin to bear sometime in June?

Preparing your bed is the start and if it is prepared properly you will have many years of superior eating. To start with, asparagus grows best with liberal applications of fertilizer. That fertilizer can be well-rotted manure or compost applied at a rate of one bushel to 30 square feet. Once a year you should spread a good 10-10-10 fertilizer, 1 ½ to 2 cups over every ten feet of a row. You can apply this late fall or very early in the spring – or even just after you finish harvesting your asparagus.

Another hint, allow asparagus tops to stand over the winter to catch and hold snow. This helps prevent deep freezing and sudden changes in soil temperature. Moisture added by melting snow is important to the shoots that produce the following spring. Once spring comes you can lop off the dead tops.

You can begin cutting your asparagus about mid-May, every other day if temperatures and moisture are favorable. Allow your bed to keep its foliage until it dies down naturally in the fall.

How soon can you harvest asparagus after you’ve started your bed? If it was started well, a few spears may be cut by the second year. It may be cut for several weeks the third year, but you shouldn’t harvest a full crop until the fourth year.

Some of the best growers now advise breaking, rather than cutting asparagus, according to Jerry Baker in his book 1001 Old Time Garden Tips. There is no danger of injuring the crown with this method the shoot will not break in the tough stringy part, resulting in perfectly crisp, delicious asparagus.

Now what about that pesky asparagus beetle? You should go through the patch daily with a pan of hot water, and shake the young asparagus heads that have the insects on them into the pan of water to destroy them.

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ASPARAGUS SALAD

1 lb asparagus juice of 2 whole lemons

1 head romaine lettuce ½ cup of cream

1 lb mushrooms ¼ tsp of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Clean and steam asparagus until tender-crisp, cool quickly in ice water
  2. Arrange lettuce around a large platter
  3. Clean and thickly slice the mushrooms
  4. Make dressing with lemon juice, cream, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir mushrooms into the dressing, remove with a slotted spoon.
  5. Put mushroom in middle of lettuce, surround with asparagus spears—tips pointing outward. Garnish with carrot curls, cherry tomatoes, and/or English walnut halves.

Serve cold with dressing on the side.

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About the Author

Billie A Williams is an award-winning, multi-published author her

Accidental sleuths solve crimes with wit, wisdom and chutzpah

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