Gardening Tips: 2021 Vegetable Garden, part 1 | Columnists | hudsonvalley360.com – Hudson Valley 360

This is most likely my last column written from New York in 2021, as I prepare to head to Florida for the winter. I just found my clipboard with my garden notes from this past season and I am glad I took the time to write things down. I used to assume that I will …….

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This is most likely my last column written from New York in 2021, as I prepare to head to Florida for the winter. I just found my clipboard with my garden notes from this past season and I am glad I took the time to write things down. I used to assume that I will recall the details of what I did just a few months ago, but the truth is, the older I get, the less I remember. Hopefully, I will learn from my mistakes and not repeat them next year. Writing things down is a great habit to get into for all gardeners.

The 2021 gardening season began on schedule, around May 10, with my first asparagus harvest. The two all-male varieties I grow, Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight, continue to yield very well, even after 18 years. My five foot, by eight foot raised bed yields more than I can possibly eat, but I have learned that no one refuses a gift of fresh asparagus. As a kid, I would not eat asparagus at all, because the only option was canned. Canned asparagus, like canned peas, are a poor substitute for fresh. Even frozen asparagus is not a close substitute.

After more than 40 years of seriously trying to grow what is now one of my favorite vegetables, I have learned a few things. I choose the all-male varieties because they do not produce seed, which allows the plant to direct its energy into the roots for storage and not into reproduction. Female plants produce red berries that sometimes produce seedlings. While producing new plants may seem like an advantage in terms of increasing the number of plants present in the bed, it is not necessary if the existing plants are healthy. A healthy asparagus “crown” is capable of sending up a dozen or more harvestable shoots each spring and does not require the care and nurturing that seedlings do. Managing an even aged bed is a lot easier than dealing with plants of different ages and maturities.

Asparagus does not compete well with weeds, in general. It is worth the effort to remove all perennial weeds as they appear, while maintaining a heavy mulch to smother most weed seedlings. After a bed is well established, table salt can be used to help prevent weed growth, since asparagus is quite tolerant of salt while most annual weeds are not. I also believe that the salt provides a bit of disease resistance for the crowns. Just yesterday, I cut off the asparagus fern as it is starting to turn yellow after the hard frost last weekend. I will add as much as a six inch layer of mulch on top of the bed for the winter. My preferred mulch is sugar maple leaves if I can get them. I have also used clean straw or woodchips some years. Asparagus can easily push up through six inches or more of soft mulch.

On May 21 I planted red cabbage, potatoes, onions and four, Big Beef, tomato transplants. I already had a fair crop of “volunteer” potatoes growing in two different raised beds from 2019 and 2020 plantings. No matter how conscientiously I try to dig all the potatoes each fall, I always seem to miss some. As it turned out, my potato crop was a disaster this year. The plants grew fine, but sometime in late summer I noticed lots of tunnels in most of my raised beds and I spotted a few voles scurrying in and out of them. I blame chipmunks and moles for creating the …….

Source: https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/opinion/columnists/gardening-tips-2021-vegetable-garden-part-1/article_10343c5b-08ab-5427-8b8b-46c939156cad.html

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