We are having an early spring on My Little Farm in Town. We seem to be about three or four weeks ahead of schedule. I have seen Spring Beauties and blood roots blooming in the woods and the first flush of mushrooms popping up through the wood mulch.
The asparagus bed is just about read y to receive plants. I still don’t trust the weather though. It isn’t unusual to have a late spring snow storm in the first couple of weeks of April in our part of the country and the last frost date is May 21!
I’ve been doing some interesting reading about growing asparagus. I haven’t had much luck in the past unfortunately. I have come to the conclusion that I haven’t prepared the ground properly, so this time I have spent a year on soil building with layers of chicken compost, chicken manure, leaf and lawn clippings, and cotton seed meal.
I also read that plants started from seed do just as well as crowns only it takes an extra year before you can start harvesting. I decided that cheaper in this case might actually be better! I dug out my trusty Park’s Success with Seeds, Nancy Bubel’s classic The New Seed-Starters Handbook, and Storey’s Seed Sowing, and Saving by Carole B. Turner. I learned I could plant directly in the soil, but it was also fine to start plants indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost date in my area. The plants look delicate but transplant well and only require a bit of extra watering in the first growing season to get them established.
- I bought the seed at a local farm store for a little over a dollar a packet. Two packets were more than enough seed to plant a flat of four-packs of a common seed starter mix.
- I soaked the seeds in warm tap water for two days to soften the tough seed coats. I maintained the temperature of the soaking water by placing the seed in a small thermos and changing the water 3 or 4 times a day when it cooled. I used a small tea strainer to make sure the seeds didn’t accidentally go down the drain during water changes.
- Information for planting depth for the seed was printed on the seed packets. I got germination temperatures from my seed starting books. The combination of soaking the seeds and germinating them in the correct temperature range with gentle bottom heat (75-80°F) gave me seedlings in a little over a week.
- Once the seedlings were up, I learned to my sorrow that those seedlings I allowed to dry out withered quickly and did not revive (word to the wise). I used a spray bottle to keep the top layer of starter mix damp until germination and then misted the seedlings and bottom watered them in their tray.