Thursday, May 4, 2017

Even My Ankles Ache

Usually I start off the gardening season doing nothing more strenuous than preparing a bit of soil and planting some seeds.


This year, I decided I'd better attack the asparagus bed before any of the new shoots appeared.

I had left the ferns, which were close to six feet tall in the fall, standing and covered the whole bed with a light mulch of straw.  Now was the time for the spring clean-up.

Yesterday I started by crawling down the rows and into the maze of topped over and intertwined debris and cutting off the dead fern stalks with hand pruners.  That in itself was a challenge.  (I took my cell phone in there with me in case I got lost and couldn't cut my way out.)

I tossed the stalks off to the side and Papa Pea came along to gather them up and haul them away.

Then I spent a little time in an upright position with rake and pitchfork getting all of the mulch off the area.  I made several trips hauling it in a wheelbarrow down to a pile of "reusable" straw at the end of the main garden.


Back down onto my hands and knees again with a hand spade to dig out all the weeds that had already started to take hold.  Most of them were big dandelions (not yet blossomed) spread out flat on the ground with roots two feet down into the ground.  (Slight exaggeration.)  As seems typical, most of them (no foolin') were growing right in the center of an asparagus plant.  How to remove them without damaging the asparagus?  Very carefully.

Next I put a sprinkling of canning salt around each plant as they need sodium chloride rock salt (NaCl).  This improves overall growth and helps resist crown and root rot diseases.  (Don't use iodized table salt for this supplement as that's a whole 'nother thing.)

Again, Papa Pea helped by going to our saved stash of wood ashes and spreading a dusting of them over the whole bed which helps to raise the pH level ( which should be 7.2 or higher) required for optimum asparagus growth.


Revving up my little Mantis tiller (vroom-vroom, love that thing), I tilled in the wood ashes and maybe even eradicated any weeds under the surface that were thinking of emerging once I turned my back.  Then I raked up several inches of soil into a mound on the rows in which the asparagus is planted.  It's believed this helps prolong the abundance of the crop as sometimes the roots can slowly work their way upwards from where planted which may, in turn, produce thinner and tougher stalks.  So adding some soil in this way each year assures the roots stay as deeply covered as they're supposed to be.

Lastly, I ran the tiller around the edge of the patch a couple of times to let the sod know I'm serious again this year about not letting it creep into the patch.

In a couple of weeks, I'll lay mulch down between the rows and up near the plants.  Unfortunately, our straw used for mulch over winter had a lot of seeds left in it, and I'm expecting many of them to germinate so I'll use the tiller to beat them back a couple of times before applying the mulch.


I did, also, manage to get my Sweet Pea seeds (which I had soaked over night) planted on either side of the trellis in one of the raised beds close to the house.

Oh, yes, I was feeling the pain at the end of the day yesterday, but a couple of doses of Arnica pellets during the day and one before bed last night and I don't feel too bad this morning.  Not too bad.

30 comments:

Jan said...

Down here in North Texas, we've been enjoying fresh asparagus from our asparagus bed. Hope your soreness goes away soon!

Michelle said...

Rick brought home a big, beautiful sack of asparagus from a client the other night. Apparently they have more than they know what to do with; I told him to go get more!

Kristina said...

Well, dang woman! You worked your bum off. I didn't even get my asparagus weeded out before it came up, and it's still coming up. It's a mess right now, but today it's raining, cold (40's) and cloudy. I won't be out there for a few days after the rain stops. It looks amazing by the way.

Hope Richards said...

Mama Pea: I can relate, up, or maybe, over here in Ontario. Love your garden layout, just wondering what is the size of your raised beds? Hubby and I are retiring and moving a little further north to an old farm. We've been looking for a forever home for awhile, and finally found something that ticked most of the boxes on our list. There are no gardens established there now and am looking so forward to setting up raised beds and a field garden for spuds and parsnips. Excited and kind of scared to. You are the "home page" on my computer. Really enjoy reading about your gardens, critters and recipies. Thank you. Hope

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea!! :) Oh my goodness....and I thought I worked hard in the yard!!! No wonder your ankles hurt...if I'd done all that work, I think even my ear lobes would require pain killers ;) I'm surprised you didn't bring a machete along with your cell phone into that jungle that you tamed! :) Your raised beds are admirable!!! Have a spritzer and put your feet up, you've earned it!!!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

That is a hard day's work! I am feeling sore just by reading all this! But man do your beds look fantastic!

Sue said...

Sod never does take the hint...........
:(

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Ughhh, grass creeping into your garden. A never ending battle. You deserve a good sit after all of that! -Jenn

Chris said...

Hi, if you place a half teaspoon of salt into the centre of each dandilion they will be dead in 2 days root and all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful tips on growing asparagus! I did not know that about the salt. I love learning from you!-M

Mama Pea said...

Jan - Both hubby and I love asparagus so much. We're really looking forward to our harvest this year. This is just the third year for our bed but some year, we hope it gives us enough to freeze. Wouldn't that be great?!

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - Send me the address and I'll go get some!! ;o)

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - I've read asparagus doesn't like to grow with weeds for competition. Knowing you, first chance you get you'll get out there and make the bed weedless!

Mama Pea said...

Hope Richards - What nice things you've said! Thank you so much.

We looked and looked for an old farm somewhere in this area when we decided we wanted this to be our forever home but couldn't find one so I'm a little jealous of the one you've found.

We gardened in our raised beds here first, too, and then got the field garden going.

Our raised beds are all 4' x 8' but I've seen people make them lots of different sizes. I know I wouldn't want them wider than the 4' because that's even a stretch when planting.

Good luck with your move. What an exciting time for you!

Mama Pea said...

Rain - The aches and pains always appear at the start of the gardening season, but I'm lucky in that they don't last long. Geesh, I thought I used all those muscles during the winter months, but that must just be wishful thinking!

P.S. Because you often mention "spritzers" in your posts, I picked up 5 bottles of different kinds last time we went to the big city. I'm on my last one right now . . . but will be purchasing more next chance I get. Thanks and I'll drink to that!

Mama Pea said...

MrsDM - Thank you, thank you! I can't wait for them to be filled with beautiful veggies and flowers!

Mama Pea said...

Sue - No, but I'm determined to beat it into submission! (I talk tough, don't I?)

Mama Pea said...

Jenn - I've just spent this rainy day making soups and stews for the freezer and I swear my body feels about the same as I do after a day in the garden! Which is where I would have rather been today!

Mama Pea said...

Chris - What a good tip! Never have heard that before. Thanks!

Mama Pea said...

You're so very welcome, M! Apparently, asparagus originally (way back who knows how far) grew in salt marshes. Hence, the appreciation of salt!

Laurie said...

Well, I'm glad you didn't get lost in there. Lol! I would love to plop myself down on a bucket or something and watch you in action. You have a wealth of knowledge that amazes me. You did good out there in the asparagus patch...it's looking pretty.

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - We've had grayness and drippyness the last couple of days but sunshine today. Hope to get more done in the garden today. Of course, now I'm super eager for those little asparagus shoots to start showing themselves in the prepared and ready patch! Gardening. Always something to look forward to. Your little plot wins all awards (hands down!) for the loveliest one around!

Leigh said...

Asparagus needs salt?!?!?! How did I not know that! Actually I gave up on my asparagus a couple of years ago because the wire grass seemed to be choking it out anyway. But somehow I now have a row of it growing! Guess I missed the sprouts because it's been raining so much. I have to say you did an amazing job on your asparagus bed. Love the before and after shots.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - I was surprised to learn that salt marshes were the original homes of asparagus. I do know they need a lot of water to be productive so maybe that, too, harkens back to the marshes.

Yay for your row that is growing! Asparagus does not like to grow in competition with weeds so I can see how your awful, terrible, dreadful wire grass would not be good for it!

Thanks for the compliment on my work in the asparagus bed. I know it's silly, but I probably stood and looked at it two or three times today to see if any shoots had come up! (Too early/soon I know but now that it's all ready . . . )

Athanasia said...

That is an absolutely lovely asparagus bed! I hope you have a bumper crop.

Debbie - Mountain Mama said...

That's a lot of work, for sure. Hope you have a great crop!

Goatldi said...

Lord knows mine had enough water this last 9 months but who knew on the salt? I had two of about 12 starts from 3 or so years ago come up. I thought they had drowned? Do you think it is too late for a revival?

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - I don't want to throw cold water on your asparagus dreams (oh, that was bad!), but I don't think I'd hold out much hope for the other 10 roots doing much at this point. :o(

Mama Pea said...

Thank you Athanasia! We're hoping for a bumper crop, too. Our at least enough to fill our asparagus cravings for a while. They sell it at our organic co-op, but it's soooo expensive!

Mama Pea said...

Thanks so much, Debbie! I do love whipping gardening areas into shape though.