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 manure,

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 asparagus beds. 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. JOEL BORTON. Salem County, N. J.

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