THE VEGETABLE GARDEN BED PREPARATION
The bed should be prepared in autumn and left rough on the surface so that the action of frost may reduce it to a fine tilth. Plant in April or May, setting a row of plants down the centre of each bed, in. apart, and another row on each side of it, also in. apart.
Holes should be made for the plants wide enough for the long thick roots to be spread out laterally, while the centre of each crown should be about 3 in. below thesurface. Protect the roots while they are out of the ground if there are keen drying winds, or they will become dried out.
In no circumstances should asparagus be cut until the second year after planting, but from the second year onwards available shoots can be cut until the middle of June.
Berries should not be allowed to fall from the plants on to the bed, otherwise they germinate and form a mass of useless seedling plants.
Useful manures for the asparagus bed are common salt 6 lb., sulphate of potash 2 lb., nitrate of soda 2 lb., superphosphate of lime, 3 lb. These are mixed together and applied at the rate of 3 oz. per square yard at the end of March, and again when cutting is finished.
For Exhibition, the heads of asparagus are cut during the week previously, and stood upright in about 2 in. of water in a cool, light room, the water being changed every day. The heads selected for staging should have from 3-4 in. of green stem, and about 5 in. of blanched stem. Asparagus can be forced by lifting suitable strong crowns and planting them in light rich loam in a hotbed, the temperature of which is about 60°. Forced roots are useless after the crop has been gathered, and must be thrown away.
A pest which commonly attacks asparagus is the asparagus beetle, which damages the tops. It is best controlled by using a derris wash.