Farm Gardening with Hints on Cheap Manuring
Illustration Acme Asparagus Buncher
The first plowing was merely to break the surface of the ground and turn under the winter coat of manure, leaving the land level. The second plowing (if given) is to be toward the rows, for the purpose of throwing them further under the surface, so as to get larger shoots as warm weather advances.
Another plowing, very shallow, followed by harrow or cultivator, should be given at the end of the cutting season, in June, to destroy all weeds and to encourage summer growth of the asparagus.
The patch should be kept clear of weeds during the summer, and growth encouraged by cultivation. In the late autumn the tops are mowed off and burned, as there seems to be no economic way of composting them, for, if moved to the compost heap or barnyard, they will seed the whole farm with asparagus. There should be a good coat of manure for winter protection, to be turned under in early spring, as already mentioned.
=Marketing.=--The preparation of the crop for market involves some time and trouble. The shoots are cut every
[Illustration: Acme Asparagus Buncher, with Knife Guard.]
If asparagus is to be shipped long distances, it must either be packed in open crates (like strawberry crates), or else thoroughly chilled by ice before starting. Otherwise, it will heat and spoil. The usual asparagus bunch is just about the size of a dry-measure quart in diameter, and from 6 to 9 inches in length. In fact, a quart cup or tin fruit can is frequently used in shaping the bunch. Home-made wooden bunchers are also in common use. The Acme asparagus buncher is the best, coming in two sizes. The asparagus is tied in two places with raphia or soft string, and thus makes a neat and attractive package. The butts are cut off square with a knife after the bunch is finished, and in this shape asparagus will remain fresh for a long time, if kept standing in shallow water.
In tying up the bunches the shoots are separated into two or three sizes. The small shoots are quite as good for food as the larger ones, but the latter always bring more money in market, which warrants the additional trouble involved.
=Salt.=--Salt is frequently used on asparagus beds, but not always. Salt is sometimes an indirect fertilizer, acting upon fertility already in the soil, and having a distinct tendency to attract and hold moisture, but it has no direct fertilizing influence. It has a beneficial effect in helping to check the growth of weeds.