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Diggers Rest, Issue #013 -Asparagus, Kids gardening tips, Vegetable Pancakes
March 13, 2006

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March 13, 2006 Issue #13


The no dig garden website is a venture into publishing on a topic I love. Thanks for joining me on the adventure! I'd love to have your feedback.
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In this issue:

1) How to grow Asparagus
2) More gardening tips for Kids
3) Recipe: Elegant Vegetable Pancakes

Growing Asparagus

Asparagus is a crop that you have to be patient for, but if you love the vegetable, it is well worth the wait.

Asparagus is a perennial plant and can produce spears for up to 25 years if tended well.

As it is going to be a permanent part of your garden, it's worth considering creating a separate garden bed for it. It can take up a fair bit of space and will need slightly different management than the regular garden.

Asparagus won't yield much in the first few years you have it. It takes time to mature as a plant. Generally plants are bought from a nursery as two year old crowns.

Once planted, it will be another full year before you can harvest anything but here is how it works...

Create a No-dig garden as normal, but top with approximately 8 inches of compost rather than the usual 4. Create a furrow 5-6 inches deep and place your crowns 18 inches apart. If you are creating two rows, you will need 5 feet between rows.

Cover the crowns with a few inches of compost. When they grow above that, fill in the furrow. Once they are again above that, mulch the bed and you're underway.

It is strongly suggested that you purchase all male varieties. The female plants produce seeds which will over populate your garden. The seeds are also eaten by birds which disperse them widely creating a problem for native habitats.

After the first year in the garden (they are now 3 years old if you purchased two year old crowns) you will be able to harvest for about two weeks before you should stop. That's it for that year.

The next year, harvest for four weeks. Then finally in their fifth year, you will harvest for about 8 weeks, which is their normal season. Do not be tempted to over-harvest in the first couple of years as the plants need to develop and mature.

Once mature, the plants will produce asparagus spears 7-10 inches high. To harvest, bend the spear gently from the top. They will snap off naturally about half way down and you will take only the tender part of the spear indoors for cooking.

You can start asparagus plants from seed but geez, it's another two years out of your life! A 3 year wait as it is for a full harvest is plenty, I think...patience is a virtue but three years is virtue enough.

Gardening for Kids

A while back, I wrote an article about how to get your children interested in gardening It was largely directed at very young children but here are a few more tips.

Why not encourage your child to grow special treats for household pets? Rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens all love vegetable scraps, especially celery, corn and broccoli. If the pets will eat it, maybe the child will be tempted to try it...

For pet birds, have them grow some sunflowers. They are easy to grow from seed and the flowers are an absolute delight. Once they die out, the seeds begin to form and can be harvested for the birds (and the humans)!

What about cats I hear you cry? No problem. Find a sunny patch of garden and grow some catnip or cat grass. Cats eat grass to get rid of furballs so it's a helpful treat for them. And they will love a catnip patch to play in.

If you still can't capture them with the excitement of growing their own food, turn to favourite fruits. Strawberries and mini watermelons are two obvious choices. Easy, peasy and no one can resist those...

Feature Recipe: Vegetable Pancakes

This dish is suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It goes with just about anything you want to add to fill out the meal, depending on the time of day. Yummy.

Pancake batter
500g grated zucchini
2 spring onions
3 eggs
1/2c soy flour
1/4c fresh coriander, chopped
Black pepper to taste

Make up the pancake batter first. Squeeze out the grated zucchini and put into a mixing bowl. Add all other listed ingredients and mix before adding to the batter.

Spread about 2 tablespoons of batter mixture for each pancake into a lightly oiled non stick frypan on medium heat. Cook until golden brown (about 3 minutes) on one side and flip.

Dress it up or dress it down, it's a very versatile addition to the recipe arsenal. And it's a great way to sneak a green veggie into the kids! (See: Vegetable Tips for Kids).

Happy gardening!

Judy Williams

Copyright J.L. Williams 2006

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