The good news for next year’s garden

Last week I wrote about some of the disasters I had with my 2022 vegetable garden, mostly due to my own fault, but some, also due to the unprecedented hot and dry weather parts of our region experienced. I forgot to mention another blunder, which was hooking up a soaker hose to my 250 gallon rainwater storage tank and then forgetting to close the valve overnight. Soaker hoses are great tools to apply water slowly over a period of hours, but leaving them on for 24 hours or so, is not a good idea. In my case I lost most of my stored rainwater before I realized I had left it running.

On the plus side, my 20 year old asparagus patch of “Jersey Knight” once again performed beautifully and I feasted on fresh asparagus from early May until the fourth of July. The flavor is excellent, and this variety is resistant to rust, crown rot and fusarium. It also performs well in my heavy, clay soil. This is an all-male variety that does not produce any female spears, which can be distinguished from the male shoots by the round, red berries the females produce. The advantage of this trait is that the plant does not expend any stored energy trying to ripen seed. The downside is that no new seedlings are produced, so no replacement plants can be established. I use table salt to reduce weeds, which may also help prevent crown rot, since asparagus is remarkably tolerant of salt while many annual weeds are not. Only well-established beds, at least three years old, should be “salted” at a rate of about 2 pounds of rock salt per 100 square feet. I apply it in late spring, as many annual weeds are germinating.

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