Forcing In The Greenhouse

With florists the forcing of asparagus has this important advantage: that the income obtained from it is nearly all gain, as the space under the benches, which may thus be utilized, is of but little use for other purposes. If the floor under

the benches is soil this is dug out so as to form a pit about a foot deep, or at least a few inches deeper than the clumps are high. Three or four inches of good rich soil is scattered over the bottom, and upon this the clumps are placed close together. Dry, mellow soil is then scattered between and over the clumps, so that the crowns are covered one or two inches, and given a thorough watering. If blanched shoots are desired, the crowns will have to be covered with six or eight inches of soil. The same object may be obtained by shutting off the light, which can easily be accomplished under greenhouse benches. Where it is not practicable to make excavations under the benches, a pit may be constructed by placing boards against the posts and filling in the space thus furnished. To secure a succession, new roots from the reserve stock have to be planted every three or four weeks. For the first week or ten days after placing the roots in the forcing-pit they should be kept rather cool, so as to give them a chance to become established. A temperature of 45 deg. to 50 deg. is best, at first. Afterward it should be raised to 55 deg. to 60 deg., and during the day it may rise as high as 80 deg. to 85 deg. But, as a rule, very high temperatures induce a spindling growth. During the entire forcing process asparagus requires a large amount of water, but unless it has the chill taken off, and ample means for drainage are provided, it may do far more harm than good. The interval between the time of planting and the first cutting varies greatly, according to the temperature and other conditions. The following are actual dates of asparagus forcing under benches at Cornell University: Plants taken from an old patch November 29th and set under benches three days later. December 4th, shoots just pushing through. December 8th, first shoots cut, averaging nine inches long. December 14th, first good cutting, shoots running from six to fifteen inches long. December 18th, second good cutting. December 26th, a good cutting, some of the shoots having remained too long and become woody; some of these shoots were two feet long. January 10th, a heavy cutting. January 19th, cut about half as many shoots as on the 10th. January 30th, cut about as much as on the 19th, but shoots growing smaller. February 10th, small cutting of weak shoots. Beyond this time there were no shoots worth cutting.

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