Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gasp! Thank Goodness for the Gazpacho...and how to plant asparagus

At present it is blistering summer, but a couple of days ago it was a rainy spring, and a few days before, a blustery winter.  A lot of work is getting done despite the heat, downpours, and gale winds.  So much in fact, that even a quickie meal like fritters takes too much time. Since it is summer at present, what better treat than some gazpacho made from last season's tomato harvest?  Thawed and garnished with chopped, hard-boiled eggs/cucumber ribbons/parsley, it is an important reminder why I keep a potager as there is no comparison in taste between store-bought and home-grown toms.

This season's tomato crop has been started already indoors in an incubator and is being taken out each day to get sunshine and mild wind which strengthens their stems.  Presently they are brought back in before nightfall as the nights are still too cool for warm-weather lovers like tomatoes.  So far I haven't left them out shivering overnight--lots of little details a gardener has to keep in her mind!

Roma & Beefmaster seedlings on the right: their second & true set of leaves will appear soon.

This is the season I finally got around putting in an asparagus bed.  Bare-rooted asparagus crowns (modified stems) and their lateral roots are squid-like in appearance.

They were soaked in a pail of water for about a half hour.

The edible part is the young 'fern' which grows from the crown which if not harvested will become about a four-foot-tall, feathery plant.  The spears won't be picked this season and only a light harvesting next spring will be done so their roots will become strong to encourage robust, future yields. Asparagus is one of the few vegetables that are perennials, and this bed should produce for the next twenty years.

This baby asparagus is white because it was stored in the dark.

Two six-inch-deep and foot-wide trenches were dug flanking the long sides of a spaded block bed. An organic fertilizer with a balanced NPK was sprinkled in them. Then a light covering of soil was put down to protect the crowns from getting burned.  Weeds are hard to pull from the dense matting of underground roots, so hopefully a close planting of asparagus in a block bed will work against weed growth.

The crowns were then place about a foot apart and covered with a few inches of soil.  As the spears come up, I will keep adding soil until the plants are well mounded.

Twenty one asparagus crowns out of sight and awaiting further filling in with soil.

The removed soil are in a couple of covered, nearby crates.

The sweet alyssum planted last spring and which is usually grown as an annual was able to survive through the mild winter.  If well trimmed to encourage new growth, they should last another summer. The air is touched with their honey fragrance which bees adore.

Instead of replacing the well worn, forty-year old patio, I sow alyssum in the cracks. 

Weeds are dug/scratched out with a sturdy knife, potting soil is put in the cracks, the seeds are sown, then covered up lightly with some potting mix and watered.  Be sure to block off the area until the plants are established. Because they are not really perennials, I will eventually plant mother of thyme--I finally located an online source for it--in the various cracks.  It is a sturdy, creeping, evergreen, drought-tolerant thyme which can take some foot traffic while releasing its bracing fragrance when crushed underfoot.

A milk bottle with its cap punctured with tiny holes makes a nice sprinkler.

This is the spring I will finally get around to putting soil in the pockets of this porous, crumbly rock in the front garden so I can sow alyssum in it also.

Left side of the walk is weeded, the right side will be--those floppy plants are wild garlic.

Some of the nine fruit trees are blossoming.

The tallest of the two pear trees.

The smallest of the two apple trees.

The bearded irises are close to blooming in azure and dazzling profusion.

The lilacs are waking up. 

Increasingly animated birdsong reminds me to keep the bird baths filled with fresh water.

DIY bird baths:  upturn a large planting pot, top with its saucer, & add a rock for a perch.

Unfortunately, the last shipment from the nursery has not arrived.  When it does, I will be occupied with getting onion sets, three varieties of potatoes, and bare-rooted blueberry plants settled in their new home.  Until then, the main tasks in the potager are weeding, mulching, indoor sowing, fertilizing, strimming, and transplanting.

Strawberries, peas, radishes, beets, carrots, and garlic are in the various beds.

Dayo of course works as hard as I do and when he gets a bit fatigued is fond of resting his head on a terracotta pillow.

À la prochaine!


How to make gazpacho
Sowing carrots
Planting garlic
Indoor sowing