Gardening tips: the good news | Columnists


Last week I wrote about some of the disasters I have had with my 2022 vegetable garden, mostly due to my own fault, but some also due to the unprecedented hot and dry weather our region has experienced. I forgot to mention another mistake, which was connecting a soaker hose to my 250 gallon rainwater storage tank and then forgetting to turn off the valve overnight. Soaker hoses are great tools for applying water slowly over a period of several hours, but leaving them on for about 24 hours isn’t a good idea. In my case, I lost most of my stored rainwater before I realized I had let it run.

On the plus side, my 20-year-old plot of asparagus from “Jersey Knight” performed like a charm again and I feasted on fresh asparagus from early May through July 4th. The flavor is excellent and this variety is resistant to rust, crown rot and fusarium. It also does well in my heavy, clay soil. This is an all-male variety that does not produce female spears, which are distinguished from male shoots by the round, red berries that females produce. The advantage of this trait is that the plant does not expend any stored energy trying to ripen the seeds. The downside is that no new seedlings are produced, so no replacement plants can be established. I use table salt to reduce weeds, which can also help prevent crown rot because asparagus is remarkably salt tolerant unlike many annual weeds. Only well-established beds, at least three years old, should be “salted” at the rate of about 2 pounds of rock salt per 100 square feet. I apply it in late spring because many annual weeds germinate.

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