Thursday, December 29, 2011


We're all taking a bit of a breather here.  I'll spare you from the doldrums of our winter chores.  The greenhouse will be up and running again in a couple months.  
See you in 2012!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Asparagus: The Annual Disappearing Act

It's not that the work slows down in autumn, it's just that the type of work changes.  There's a lot of clean-up, mulching, pruning, and general putting-to-rest to do.  

Winter is on its way, but there's still no time to play.

At the moment, my focus is on asparagus.  The ferns have yellowed and died.  This means that the plants have made all food they can to support the root systems, so I can now cut them back.  This task is a much bigger undertaking than it was last fall.  We have twice as much asparagus growing now, so the work has doubled.

I have to cut them back for several reasons.  First of all, the ferns can harbor pests and diseases.  In our case, I've found quite a few slugs attached to the bases of the stems.  This is a plus for the chickens.  I like to throw them a few asparagus tops here and there so that they can enjoy the slimy snacks.  They tend to leave the actual ferns alone.  Secondly, it's a lot easier to mulch the rows with the ferns out of the way.  Mulching is extremely important in the fall.  It protects the crowns from heaving out of the ground as it freezes and warms, and it suppresses the early spring weeds.  And finally, if I were to let the ferns remain, they would shade out and slow down the emergence of new spears in the spring.

Although this job is long and tedious, it is very satisfying work.  When I'm all done, the asparagus field will look like nothing more than rows of golden straw.  It will all be weeded, mulched, and prepped for spring's arrival.