Asparagus In New Jersey
An important point in asparagus culture is to remove the top growth in
the fall of the year. For this purpose I use a mowing-machine, then rake
up the brush and burn it on the bed. After this I top-dress heavy with
leaving it lie on the land until spring.
Just as soon as the ground is fit to work at all I put on a disk-harrow,
and cut it about four times each way until it is thoroughly pulverized.
Then with a smoothing-harrow I level it, and repeat the smoothing-harrow
operation about once a week to keep down all weeds coming through. Then
we let it go as long as we can, possibly two weeks, and at the
appearance of weeds we take an ordinary sweet-potato ridger having a
plow on either side and run it astride the row, covering everything in
the row. Doing this on Saturday afternoon holds the asparagus back over
the following day. Then we take the middle out with a one-horse
cultivator. This is done probably three times during the cutting season,
which is eight weeks. With the help of one of these weeders, which we
use at least once a week, we keep the bed quite clean of all weeds, and
this I consider very essential. The cultivation should continue after
cutting until the top growth becomes so large as to protect the ground,
and then there will be but little trouble late in the season about
weeds. It doesn't pay to grow them anywhere, and especially not in
In planting, the ground should be well prepared and furrowed out eight
inches in depth, four and one-half feet apart, and the plants two and
one-half feet in the row, with a little fine manure in bottom of row;
put about two inches of soil on the plants to cover. Then as the sprouts
come up, keep on filling the furrows by cultivation.
I have been using some commercial manures the past two years, applying
at the rate of one ton to the acre about the rows in the spring; then
nearly a ton of salt to the acre applied at any time. It helps keep
weeds down and gives the asparagus a good flavor. Above all, do not
forget to apply the fertilizer, and Plenty, with a big "P," of
it--either stable manure or commercial fertilizers. Probably there will
be less weeds by using the latter, but there needs to be a great deal of
the former in the beginning for several years, to give the bed a good
body of rich earth, from which the plants feed. It appears to me this
is the secret of success.
Much depends upon how asparagus is put up for the market, making it look
attractive, in nice, clean, new crates and neatly prepared bunches, and
the stalks must be large, tender, and of good flavor. Grass from a
strong bed grown in twenty-four hours is much more tender and better in
every way than grass grown in forty-eight hours from a poor bed. We are
compelled to cut every twenty-four hours, or the asparagus would waste,
and the gathering is accomplished in about three and one-half hours each
day, early in the morning.
Salem County, N. J.
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