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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville: The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee annual Perennial Plant Sale at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    April 21: Herb & Craft Fair hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Top quality perennial and annual herbs, heirloom tomato plants, native and companion plants, along with food and craft items reflecting an interest in the homemade and homegrown: fresh homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, barbecue sauces, jams and jellies; knitted and sewn items, homes for birds and bees, and art, jewelry and more made from pressed flowers. Visit www.thefuun.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival, hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibiters, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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For asparagus, a good bed is the best way to begin

Question: I want to start an asparagus bed in my garden. Where can I get some plants? – James W.

Before we talk about plants, let’s talk about where to put them. I’ve pulled out my copy of the Guide to Tennessee Vegetable Gardening by Walter Reeves & Felder Rushing and turned to the “Asparagus” page. The first thing the authors say here is, “Planning is essential for these plants because a well-prepared asparagus bed can last many years before needing reworking.” After that, Rushing and Reeves instruct to “Plant asparagus as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring.” Asparagus is a cool-climate plant, and we are about to slide into the hot season, so maybe now is not the time to rush out to buy plants, especially if you haven’t already prepared a place to put them.

But maybe you have. Here are the details: The bed should be in full sun, away from trees or shrubs whose roots would complete with the asparagus. It has to be well-drained, because if it’s boggy or soggy the plants will rot and die out. The recommend planting in sandy soil, but any well-drained soil will do.

In this bed, dig a 6-inch deep trench, about 15 inches wide. Asparagus plants are sold as crowns, clusters of roots. Set the crowns in the trench about 1 foot apart, spread the roots out and cover with soil. Water and wait.

Growth in the first year will be spindly, and you shouldn’t harvest any the first year. Keep the soil moist throughout the first year, and pull weeds as they appear. Mulch will help keep weeds under control. Cut the ferns back in the spring before new growth begins. In the second year, harvest a few spears in mid-spring. The third year is the time for a bigger harvest – 4 to 6 weeks, and every year thereafter harvest asparagus for 6 to 8 weeks in the spring.

Now, the plants. Local nurseries that offer vegetable starts are likely to have asparagus crowns for sale. There are several different types, and you may find different varieties at different locations. Or check garden catalogs/Web sites. Several 2011 mail-order companies offer asparagus crowns. The variety called ‘Jersey Knight’ seems to be a popular favorite. Check Seeds of Change, The Cook’s Garden, Burpee Gardening, Territorial Seed Company or any others for asparagus crowns.



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