Susan Explains Hardening Off Plants
When seedlings are grown indoors or in a heated greenhouse
they are not accustomed to conditions outside. To help them
withstand the harsher outdoors conditions it is best to "harden
them off" for a week or two. Put them outside for a few hours on
a calm, warm day. Then slowly increase the time they spend
outside over the next week or two. This will strengthen the
stems and get them used to outside before planting.
Many gardeners think asparagus is too complicated to grow but that's
not true. They do take two years before cropping fully but after that
weeding and feeding is all that is required. Now is the time to plant
asparagus crowns (pre-grown one year old plants).
Full information can be found
here, but we
describe the basic process here. First, let me convince you that the
taste of freshly harvested asparagus is out of this world. Supermarket
asparagus is NO comparison. Home grown asparagus harvested and eaten
within a few hours is one of the sweetest tastes ever. Out of this
Buy your asparagus crowns (see left), try about six for your
first experiment. They are available online or from most
nurseries and garden centres. Make sure the planting area is
free of weeds, the asparagus will crop for many years.
a trench 25cm (10in) deep and 30cm (1ft wide) and (for six
plants) 2.7 metres (9ft) long. Lay the crowns about 45cm (1ft
6in) apart n the trench and cover with soil.
Don't harvest in the first year, harvest sparingly in the second year
then harvest for about 8 weeks thereafter. Keep the bed weeded and
watered in very dry conditions. A feed of blood, fish and bone in spring
and autumn will keep them going just fine.
That's about it for asparagus so get down to your garden centre now and
Seeds For Sowing this Week
Brussels Sprouts should be sown or planted this week. Remember that they
will cast shade. Carrots can also go in. Sow them a few at time to avoid
a glut. Do the same with lettuce. Give a thought to growing spinach,
it's easy to grow and now is the time to sow seeds.
Many herbs can also be planted from now on, this includes chives,
rosemary, marjoram and many others.
For more detailed information and timings go to our individual
fruit pages. If you want to see a
condensed vegetable advice page with planting, sowing, care and
harvesting information for the entire year on one page then go to our
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