Planting asparagus

For the past couple of Saturdays, I’ve been discussing planting asparagus with Jeff who works in the meat department at Kroger West.

He’s interested in growing some and asked if I’d ever planted any. I haven’t but promised to look up a few tips for planting asparagus.

I found the website on the internet, “Harvest to Table,” which had simple directions. I would suggest to Jeff or anyone who’s online — and most of us are now — to search “planting asparagus” for more information than you’ll ever need — including how-to videos.

Here’s what I picked up from the “Harvest to Table” site, published just as it was posted and giving them all the glory and credit. Visit them for all kinds of tips for planting other veggies.

And, if you’re planting asparagus, since it produces above the ground, do so in the light phase of the moon with a fertile sign in force.

I learned, too, that if left undisturbed yet properly tended, asparagus can live and produce for 15-20 years!

From ‘Harvest to Table’

Asparagus is one of the earliest crops to come to harvest in spring. The edible parts of the asparagus plant are young, tender, green shoots, called spears. Spears are young leaf stalks — eaten leafless — that grow from the plant's roots in early spring. If not harvested leafless, the spears will become tall ferny-leafed plants.

Asparagus can be grown from seeds or root divisions called “crowns.”

Asparagus spears are commonly not harvested in the first year after planting. It’s best to allow plants to develop a strong root system before you begin harvesting spears in the spring of the second or third year after planting.

Grown from seed, the first harvest will come during the third year. Started from one-year-old roots or crowns, the first crop will come the second year after planting.

From seed: Grow asparagus from seed or root divisions also called crowns. Seed can be started indoors eight to six weeks before the last frost in spring; plants can be transplanted to the garden when they are well established, two or three weeks after the last frost in spring.

Sow seed ¼-½-inch deep; pot up young plants until they are well established before transplanting to the garden. Set transplants in a trench 6- to 8-inches deep; the trench will be slowly and naturally fill in as the plant grows over the course of the first two years.

In the spring of the second year, cover all but the tops of spear growing tips to help plants establish strong roots.

From crowns: If you start plants from crowns, set out crowns in late winter or early spring when the soil can be worked — usually about two weeks before the last frost in spring.

Plant crowns in trenches 8- to 10-inches deep and 12-inches wide. Set crowns at the bottom of the trench then cover with 2-inches of soil.

Space crowns and plants 8-inches apart for slender spears to 14-inches apart for thick spears. Space trenches 4-feet apart.

Grow asparagus in loose, aged-manure or aged-compost-enriched soil. After shoots emerge in spring and begin to grow, gradually fill in the remainder of the trench with soil, but never fully cover the growing tips.

Fertilize with fish emulsion or a soluble complete fertilizer at half strength.

Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting.

More tips: Asparagus prefers a soil pH range of 6.5 to 7.0; grow asparagus in full sun for best yield; and plant asparagus in a dedicated bed. Jeff said he remembers some planted along a fencerow on a farm he used to work.

Making changes

After a long, long stretch when there were no perfect days for making changes, the number of days is beginning to increase each month now with the trend continuing for the next several.

The formula being when the moon is in the dark phase and the signs are going out of the body beyond anything that functions — principally Sagittarius (the thighs) through Pisces (the feet).

The best days are what’s left of today through Thursday, Jan. 23, with the moon in the dark phase and the signs going out of the body beyond anything that functions. Just be underway by Friday when the moon moves back to the light phase.

Changes are things like stopping smoking, starting a diet or exercise program, weaning small animals or children — anything that requires a change.

The other so-so days this month — Sagittarius and Capricorn (19-23) — are in force while the light moon still rules. In my opinion, they are the next best days for making changes.

Changes are, well, just that — changes. Things like stopping smoking, starting a diet or exercise program, weaning small animals or children, scheduling elective surgery — anything that requires a change. Beginning next Friday, you’re going to have five perfect days (24-28) – and five second-best ones before them (19-23).

Grass seed in February

The optimum planting stretch begins just three weeks from now. Here are the dates so you can be ready if you have grass to sow, Feb. 9-22 when the moon is in the dark phase.

Fortunately, there are no days ruled by killing signs during the stretch and there are two great days, Feb. 13-14, when the very fertile sign Scorpio (the secrets) rules.

Steps to follow: No. 1 — get a soil test through the county Extension office and the University of Kentucky. No. 2 — prepare the ground for good seed/soil contact. No. 3 — fertilize following results of the soil test. No. 4 — secure the proper seed mixture. No. 5 — plant when the dark phase of the moon is in force for best results and that’s Feb. 9-22.

Spreading gravel

The best time to pour or spread gravel on your driveway or farm road is when the moon is in the light phase. The next stretch for that is Jan. 25-Feb. 8. This goes for laying stones on a path, too.

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