Posts Tagged ‘asparagus’
This is one of those lemons/lemonade things.
For some reason, none of our Asparagus survived this winter. I don’t know if I hadn’t planted them deep enough or if the winter was too bitterly cold, or if there was a disease or fungus or whatever. But no Asparagus.
So…after looking at that empty bed for a few weeks, waiting and waiting, I decided to dig. At first I was digging to see if there was anything happening down below. When I found all of the Asparagus gone (DOA) I decided to really start digging.
I get excited when there is a blank space in the garden because it’s so fun to plan an new garden area and to make it happen. This new space is between a peach tree and the grape arbor. At the back is a 6′ wooden fence and large rocks in the front. A blank canvas.
I wanted something that would grow tall in the back, taller than the fence but not tall enough to shade the grape vines on the arbor. I wanted something in the mid-range in the middle and a little shorter closer to the front. Then much smaller plants in the very front.
On top of all that, I wanted plants that would have a long bloom time and be long lived. In other words, a permanent bed. I don’t like spending a lot of money on annuals that have to be re-planted each and every year.
I chose Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon, Hardy Hibiscus, Althea are other names) for the back. They will grow to about 8-9′ and bloom all Summer and Fall.
In front of the Hibiscus I decided to use Centranthus ruber (Jupiter’s Beard) since it can get to about 4′ easily and blooms from Spring through Fall. A very tough and beautiful plant and so easily grown.
In front of the Centranthus I used Garden Phlox. It too has a long bloom time and is very easy to grow. It will reach about 30″.
For the very front I planted Snapdragons. They aren’t perennials but they have re-seeded freely in my garden so I think I can could on them to re-appear each year.
On each side of this bed is a stand of Hollyhocks which re-seeded a few years ago and I just let them stay.
Now the fun of watching and waiting. It’s one thing to plan it all out and know what each plant is supposed to do, but waiting and watching for the magic to happen is part of the joy of gardening.
I’m trying to decide whether to began at the end or the beginning. Maybe I’ll just jump back and forth.
I mentioned in “About Us” that in 2009 we’d bought a very old home in the Rocky Mountains (zone 5b-6a) and had taken up most of our lawn. I didn’t mention that we also took down four huge trees and many large, old shrubs. You can imagine what a mess our yard looked. But…we had a plan.
Here is a picture of our yard when we began laying it out. The big crater is where a large stump was ground out and where the Queen Elizabeth roses now stand beside the deck. You can see 2 of the 5 little peach trees planted early that spring. The small one on the end is stunted because deer ate the top out of it when it first put on leaves.
I think the neighbors were a little worried about the nut jobs that had moved in next door. It did look pretty bad but we did put up a privacy fence to protect their eyes. Of course the picket fence in the front yard didn’t hide very much and the front yard looked this bad too.
The quick answer to that is…not much. Or so it seems.
Many plants, especially fruit trees and some perennials, need these cold temperatures. They have a cycle they must go through, that’s why refrigerating bulbs can force them to bloom early. Some fruits trees need a minimum of 1,000 hours of freezing temperatures to bear fruit. So a lot is going on with the plants, just not in the leafy, green, growing sort of way.
The rose bushes look so pitiful and almost dead. They will be pruned back just as the buds begin to swell in early spring.
The raspberry bed looks so empty without all that lush foliage. They will be back bigger, thicker and better than last year. The rhubarb plants that share that bed seem to have
disappeared, but they will also be back, bigger than before.
The raised vegetable bed is empty, the corn, green beans and squash long gone. Next year we will add more compost to rejuvenate the soil for the next vegetables to grow there.
The asparagus has gone to sleep, with the plants all collapsed down with a covering of snow to insulate them. They will be some of the first to make their appearance next spring. Can’t wait.
So much to look forward to in the spring. The dormant time in the garden is a really good time to learn about some of the things that need to be done when spring finally gets here…like pruning fruit trees and rose bushes, dividing and transplanting perennials that have outgrown their space, starting and maintaining a compost pile, deciding on what vegetables to grow this year…..and on and on.
That’s why gardening is so interesting and so much fun. There is always more to learn, always something to do and always so much to enjoy in a garden.
Asparagus plants with the berries on them are female (not good) and if you remove the berries, the roots will get stronger, which means more shoots in the spring. The berries hold seeds, and if you want to try and grow asparagus from seed, then save some of them. Because you have to wait 3-4 years to began harvesting asparagus, it’s just faster to buy 1-2 year old plants. All-male plants are best because you get about 3 times the yield since no energy goes to producing seeds.
This asparagus pictured above was planted in 2009 and we cut a few this year for a couple of weeks only. We hope to really began harvesting next spring. By the end of the summer this asparagus bed had made it to the top of the 6′ fence.
Besides being a long lived perennial vegetable (coming back year after year) it is beautiful, with feathery leaves and a rich shade of green. It does like moist, well drained soil, that’s why you see the (rubber) garden hose there. I usually keep it drizzling water and just move it around in the bed from day to day. Make sure the soil isn’t soggy though, as asparagus doesn’t like to keep it’s feet wet.
So if you live in zones 3-8 why not try an asparagus bed?
When I drew up the plans for our little yard, about 1/4 acre, I knew we wanted to put in about 20 fruit trees and three 16’x4′ raised beds for vegetables. We were planning on putting a 50’x10′ grape arbor and a 32’x16′ deck. That didn’t leave much room for an asparagus bed, a raspberry bed and a blackberry/strawberry bed much less all the perennials I wanted to put in. But I love roses and thought I could squeeze at least 5 or 6 in. I chose Queen Elizabeth’s for their robustness and their great height since I was trying to create ‘rooms’ in the back yard. I also put in a couple of Medallion because I love the color. Two New Dawn went in because I planned to have an arbor over one of the gates and I wanted one to grow along the picket fence. (More about that mistake later.)
One day when we were having lunch at a little place I looked across the street and couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d never seen so many roses in one place before. They were covering the side of a two story building. The corner lot had a wide parking strip and it was completely full of huge rose bushes. After lunch we walked over to have a look. What we’d thought was an empty office
building was actually someone’s home. Obviously a bigger rose nut than me. A lady came out and said we could go into the back yard for a look around. It was unbelievable. In this 1/3 acre there were 500 of the healthiest roses in full bloom. Magical, just magical. It really changed my perspective. I realized I just wasn’t planting mine close enough. I now have 108 but I think I may be done. I love the ones I have but I probably wouldn’t turn one down if it really wanted to come home with me.
I wish there was enough space to share all of my pictures of this place. Every week during the summer we’d go for Garden Talks in the Park where really good gardeners would teach and answer questions. The “Rose Man” spoke one night and I was so impressed with him. He wasn’t even speaking on roses but on organic gardening and it came out that he was the one who lives there.
So I learned to not be limited by space. There’s always room for one more.