Asparagus

April 23rd, 2010

Everyone loves asparagus. About 30 years ago all male hybrids were developed out of Rutgers University. In fact we had a two acre u-pick field of all male hybrids at that time, probably the first in Wisconsin. Two of the main varieties are Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight. Since they do not set seed like the female asparagus plants, they produce about 50% more spears, and a planting will produce for many years. In the past there were many volunteer asparagus plants that came up from the seed and it was hard to keep the asparagus in rows.

I do not recommend planting the old time variety of Martha Washington. It is too susceptible to disease and the yields are too low.

The ground should be weed free for at least a year before you plant. During this time, increase the organic content of the soil and add any fertilizer that is needed. Asparagus is going to be there a long time.

Plant the roots or plants in the spring as soon as you can work up the soil, usually around May 1 here in southern Wisconsin. Make a furrow in the ground about 5 inches or so deep. Spread the roots out. Place the plants/roots a minimum of two feet apart but usually about three feet in the row. The crown (growing point) of the plant should be about 5 inches deep. As the plant sends up new shoots, gradually fill in the furrow so that by July the ground is level. Planting them deep slows their emergence in the spring. Asparagus spears cannot freeze.

Weed control is very important the first year. Pull and hoe weeds about every week. If you are into chemical control, Preen and corn gluten work as they help stop germination of seeds. Every spring put about 1-2 inches of compost over each plant before it grows. This will provide nutrients and help control the weeds.

Here is the Wisconsin Extension commercial website address. This is a 4 MB file.

Rhubarb

April 17th, 2010

When you purchase rhubarb plants or roots the bigger the plants or roots the earlier you will begin to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  If you purchase a two gallon plant you should begin to harvest a few spears even next year.  If you purchase a 4 inch plant you probably should wait three years.

I like the deep red stalks like Canada Red.  It just look better in the garden.

Rhubarb likes a rich organic soil.  Many folks every year put a bag of compost or cow manure a few inches thick going out about two feet or so from the base of each plant.

When you plant Rhubarb mix about 10% compost or bagged cow manure back with the top soil.  The hole should be about twice as wide as the root ball but no deeper.  More compost is not better.  You do not want to change the soil structure around the plant or it will have a hard time sending roots out into the soil away from the hole you just dug.

One ingredient that Rhubarb responds to is mycorrhiza.  This root-fungal complex greatly increases the plants ability to take up nutrients.  It attaches itself to the root hairs of the plant and lives on plant exudates from the root but then helps the root absorb nutrients from the soil.  One of the trade names for this product is Myke’s.  This product is so good it usually comes with a three year warranty on the plant.

The Easter Egg Hunt

April 3rd, 2010

The eggs are hidden among the flowers. The Easter Bunny will arrive shortly. The rabbits and chickens are in their cages. The children are waiting for the go sign at 10 AM. It will be quite a fun event for the whole family 10 AM till 3 PM.

What can be planted in the vegetable garden

April 1st, 2010

Peas, radish, beets, carrots, onion sets, potato sets. What is so amazing is that the soil temperature went up 4 degrees in one day. This is the largest increase I have seen in 40 years. I am now getting 44 degrees four inches in the ground on the north side of a building.

What can you safely plant now

April 1st, 2010

Trees, Shrubs, some perennials, and the following annuals can safely be planted now. Pansies, violas, dusty miller, calendulas, snapdragons, and dianthus.

Welcome

March 13th, 2010

Welcome to the America’s Best Flowers blog. I’m in the process of rebuilding the entire web site, so expect to see some changes over time. Hopefully I can keep glitches and lost bookmarks to a minimum, but some of the content that’s scattered all over the place will probably appear here in the blog at some point.