Wordless Wednesday: Asparagus

Asparagus growing straight up

Asparagus growing straight up

It is “Wordless Wednesday” again!  This first picture got a bunch of likes on my Mom in the Garden facebook page so I thought I’d share it here on the blog.  Despite my neglecting my asparagus bed, the wonderful spears pushed through the weeds and are standing nice and straight.

here's another color

here’s another color

The weed that took over the bed is a pain to dig out.  One or two asparagus might have been lost in the process.  But most of the bed is clear now.

ladybird / ladybug

ladybird / ladybug

These two little critters kept me company while I was weeding. At home we call them ladybugs.  Here in Ireland they call them ladybirds.  🙂   Two things I usually have with me in the garden are also in the picture:  my phone (for the alarm to let me know when I have to come in from the garden) and a water-bottle.

a not so perfect Asparagus bed

a not so perfect Asparagus bed

I’ve left most of the old stalks to let me know where the new plants should be coming up.  We can’t wait to start eating them!

Happy Wordless Wednesday 🙂
Dana

Patience in growing Asparagus pays off

Asparagus

Asparagus

“The proof is in the pudding” is what springs to mind when talking about our asparagus!  You have to taste it to know just how delicious it is.  For those who don’t know, asparagus isn’t harvested the first year planted.  That first year you have to just watch as the plant grows (and grows and grows).  Only in the fall do you cut down the plants (fronds) and put them in the compost.  I posted about planting asparagus here: https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/preparing-the-asparagus-bed-for-winter/

Asparagus

the second year of asparagus planted from crowns

This year, most of the asparagus is a nice size: not too thick and not too skinny!  We haven’t had an overabundance of it this year.  I’ve been able to harvest a small bunch at a time.

Some asparagus to add into dishes

Some asparagus to add into dishes

See?  There is just enough here to add into a pasta dish! But the taste of it makes it worthwhile. Cooking it is so easy: steam for a few minutes, or bake in the oven for a few minutes (high heat). Just don’t over cook! 🙂  When preparing them, I snap off the bottoms instead of cutting them. It’ll just naturally snap at the end of the tough part.  It’s hard to know where that point is if you cut them.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Full asparagus bed May 5th

Aasparagus bed May 6th

I have a few that need to be cut in the bed at the moment. They are at what should be their maximum height.  You cut them just below the surface of the soil.  There are still a few that are quite thin, that I’ve let go to seed.  They should be thicker next year.  Turns out that slugs also enjoy asparagus.  I’ve been visiting the bed in the evening to pick off the little critters.  yuck!

View of the fruit garden standing at the asparagus bed

View of the fruit garden standing near the asparagus bed

The asparagus bed is on the left, while we have two beds of strawberries on the right. Beyond them is a bed of garlic, then raspberries.  Blueberries fill a bed across from the raspberries (Bramley apple tree in between them).  Everything is looking good!  I have started the very slow process of collecting stones for the pathway between the beds.  I did this two years ago for our vegetable beds in the far part of the yard. (of course I posted about it! https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/a-stone-pathway-between-raised-vegetable-beds/  ) I’ve really gotten fed up with how messy the paths always looked here.   It’ll be a slow process, but I’m sure will be worth it in the end.

View of fruit garden standing at raspberry bed

View of fruit garden standing near raspberry bed

It has been raining the past few days, so when the sun came up this morning I made sure to snap a picture of the garden.  The sun makes everything more beautiful!

Strawberry flower May 6th

Strawberry flower May 6th

The strawberry plants look really pretty.  It’s nice to see everything doing so well!  What do you think, will you give growing asparagus a try?

Here’s to patience, and payoff!
Dana

 

 

 

 

Preparing the Asparagus bed for winter

Asparagus peeking through.

Asparagus peeking through this past spring.

Sometimes, picking what to plant in the garden is easy.  We love to eat asparagus.  Asparagus is not common here in Ireland.  It is therefore on the pricey side in the market, and I haven’t even seen any local organic asparagus.  So there you go, decision made: let’s try our hand at growing asparagus!

Asparagus in June.

Asparagus in June.

I posted about our asparagus plants earlier this year: https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/end-of-june-roses-poppies-but-wait-asparagus-brussels-sprouts-too/   We planted some crowns last year, but only a few took.  So this past spring we really primed the bed well, adding our own compost, as well as good quality mushroom compost.  The results were amazing!  Every crown took.  Asparagus like well drained soil, and in our case of having heavy soil it is essential to have a well prepared bed. It is also important to keep the bed well weeded.  Careful with a hoe, though, as the roots are very close to the surface.

Asparagus plants' first year of growth. November 2013.

Asparagus plants’ first year of growth. November 2013.

A close-up of over grown first year asparagus plants grown from crowns.

A close-up of over grown first year asparagus plants grown from crowns.

Planting crowns allows you to harvest the asparagus after one season. When planting from seed, it is recommended to wait until the second season to begin harvesting.  I think it is worth paying a bit more for the crowns to save that year of waiting! After planting the crowns, then watching them grow, we had to wait until November to finally cut down all of the stems and feathery fronds.  Those fronds are important for nourishing the roots, so it is good to wait until they start to turn yellow before cutting them off.  I added all of these cuttings to my compost pile.

Asparagus greens atop the freshly added leaves  in the compost.

Asparagus greens atop the freshly added leaves in the compost.

If I take the advice from Monty don in The Complete Gardener,  I will only take two cuttings next spring.  The following year I will stop cuttings on June 1st.  After that, we don’t have to keep track anymore!

The freshly cut asparagus bed.

The freshly cut asparagus bed.

A lovely bouquet of asparagus fronds!

A lovely bouquet of asparagus fronds!

To harvest, it is best to cut the stem just below the surface of the soil, about an inch down.  The stems grow quite quickly during their spring season.  But that is jumping ahead a bit. Let’s get through this fall and winter, before talking about our spring harvest!

November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013.

Such beautiful weather we’ve had!  I am simply pulled outside to work in the garden…

Capturing the changing colors.

Capturing the changing colors.

My blueberry bushes turn a lovely red in the fall, while my beech hedges turn from green, to yellow, to brown for the winter.

Look how the sunlight completely changes this picture!

The sunlight completely changes the picture to me.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed reading about growing asparagus!

Happy Fall!
Dana

End of June Roses & Poppies, but wait! Asparagus & Brussels Sprouts too!

Rosa Jacques Cartier (1868).

Rosa Jacques Cartier (1868).

Now that is a picture to get me started! I love roses.  Especially pink ones, but really any color makes me smile.  These just fill the little rose garden with color!The rose garden.

The rose garden.

This has been a very good season for black spot, unfortunately.  I was away this spring, when I think I should have been tending the roses to prevent black spot.  I still have not found an organic method, which annoys me.  This is my garden story as I grow and learn, black spots and all.  I think it would be quite misleading to leave out the rough patches that might be involved in gardening.  While I’m at my confession, I’ll add that I didn’t prune my roses this year (yikes!).  I just was completely unsure of how to go about it and procrastinated too long.  Then it was too late!

Burgundy Ice Floribunda Rose.

Burgundy Ice Floribunda Rose.

Burgundy Ice Floribunda rose.

Burgundy Ice Floribunda rose.

I think pruning them is helpful to prevent black spot (gives better air circulation).  I have been cutting away as much of the black spot as I can manage.  I was really surprised this week when a bunch of roses bloomed – I thought they were too far gone!  The worst affected were the Rosa Jacques Cartier (1868), but they weren’t the only ones.

Rosa Jacques Cartier (1868).

Rosa Jacques Cartier (1868).

Rosa Jacques Cartier (1868).

Rosa Jacques Cartier (1868). This rose is incredibly fragrant.  The walkway to the front door smells beautiful!  How lucky to be able to plant them there!

Zephirine Drouhin (1868).

Zephirine Drouhin (1868). In this picture you can see the black spots on some of the leaves. (I must get out there and cut those off!) These roses are at my front gate.

Zephirine Drouhin (1868).

Zephirine Drouhin (1868).

I need some more color in my rose garden. 🙂  There must be some more varied shades of pink out there!

Silver Anniversary Hybrid Tea Rose.

Silver Anniversary Hybrid Tea rose.

Iceberg Floribunda rose.

Iceberg Floribunda rose.

I do like the white roses, too, though.  I would really like to get a better handle on this black spot situation…

Poppies on the other hand, have no problems like black spot.  My only problem with them is their falling over!

Poppies.

Poppies.

The center of that big mess of greens holds a very large bunch of fallen-over poppies!  I’ve tried to pull them up. I’m not sure yet if it is going to work.  I will (humbly?) point out that the fence has been painted again this year.  My daughter was a big help with this job.  I have to say that I enjoyed doing it.  I really like how it brightens things up!

A "relaxed look" garden.

A “relaxed look” garden.

I like seeing the bright red flowers when I’m in the yard. The red really jumps out, even from a distance.  It is a very relaxed looking garden, nothing formal here!  The daisies are just about ready to bloom next to the never ending poppies.

Poppies.

Poppies.

A very wrinkled looking poppy!

A very wrinkled looking poppy!

As for some of the vegetables in the garden, things are growing!  We started planting asparagus two years ago.  That means that next year we’ll be able to actually eat some!  There really weren’t too many stalks, so this year we planted a full bed of different varieties.  Through some research we learned that asparagus like mushroom compost.  If our experience is anything to go by, this is certainly the case! What an amazing amount of growth we’ve seen this year.

A look at the growing asparagus.

A look at the growing asparagus.

Just about every crown we planted has grown.  These are one year old crowns.  This is much, much nicer looking than the few crowns that had been limping along the past two seasons.  I’m giving full credit to the mushroom compost we used this year.  We are really hopeful for a good crop next year!

Asparagus (the first year planting 1 year old crowns).

Asparagus (the first year planting 1 year old crowns).

Asparagus planted 2 years ago, peeking through.

Asparagus planted 2 years ago, peeking through.

That purple guy was planted two years ago.  I cut the stalk down last week because it was too tall and was falling over.  I think this would actually be ready for eating – if it was a one year old crown when planted.  It’s a bit funny just having one spear though!

Baby asparagus!

Baby asparagus!

You can really see the difference in thickness of these and the purple guy.  My soil looks really dry.  It isn’t actually, but we get a lot of wind which dries the top layer (quickly!).

Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts.

This year we are trying Brussels Sprouts!  My blogging friend Claire over at Promenade Plantings http://promenadeplantings.com/2013/04/03/all-about-brussels/ gave some really helpful hints on getting started with sprouts.  I’m not sure if we started early enough, but my fingers are crossed!  The main thing was to really pack down the earth before planting.  I wish I had a photograph, because my husband and daughter really had fun dancing on the bed to prepare it!  It was well packed down to say the least! 🙂

Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts.

The next big job we had was to take off any critters (worms). We, actually my girls did this job, took off a bunch of worms this week.  So now I’m keeping a close eye on the plants.  Funny enough, the pigeons haven’t eaten the leaves, which they apparently like to do.  I’m counting my lucky stars, because there are so many pigeons around here!

Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts.

We’ll see how it goes.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Have you tried anything new in the garden this year?

Dana

Too pretty to leave behind!

Too pretty to leave behind!