Today I’d like to talk about what many of us gardeners are doing right about now – cleaning up the garden to get it ready for spring planting. Some of you mentioned you liked seeing that I’m “real” because I left my Christmas wreath up until March. Well, get ready for more realness:
Yes, you’re supposed to cut the tops back when they turn brown in the fall.
Obviously I didn’t. And to be perfectly honest, I never do because I’m too busy dealing with all the produce that needs to be put up in the fall. But I do usually get to the asparagus when we have our traditional “false spring” here in January or beginning February. I don’t know what I was doing this year- we did have some great weather around that time, but I can see I didn’t spend it in the vegetable garden.
So the poor asparagus was trying to send new shoots up in that tangled mess because it’s that time of year.
About an hour later it’s all cleaned up and mulched with compost to help feed those new little shoots. Sadly, I did loose a few tender shoots in my cleaning- that’s one of the reasons to do it earlier- but there’s plenty more where they came from, as the asparagus season is just beginning here.
I cut down all the brown fern tops, but my clippers weren’t doing a good job, so I ended up breaking a lot of them off which left a few inches of stalk. Those will come out pretty easily as the season goes along- I’ll just pull a few each time I go out to harvest. I had to weed in a few places and clean some debris out of the bed as well. Then I topped both beds with a 2-3 inch layer of garden compost.
The best part about asparagus? This is pretty much the only chore I do all year (if you don’t count my attempts to rein in the 5-foot tops from the pathways at the end of summer). They just sit in their beds all year, every year, and pump out the shoots. I just keep the weeds away, do this one clean up and harvest.
You gotta love that.
Here’s another picture to keep it real- this time a strawberry bed:
I’ve had such problems with this bed, it just always has way more weeds than any of our other beds in the vegetable garden. And see the plant with the tiny white flowers? It’s one of the worst annual weeds– we call them “poppers” because if you don’t get to them early enough, those flowers turn into a million seeds and when you go to pull them the seed heads “pop” and spray seeds everywhere.
Just lying in wait for next year.
Their only saving grace is that they don’t like it hot, so they don’t come back over and over again (unlike my other nemesis, the perennial violet-ugh). So, if I get them early enough, I won’t have a million more the next spring.
If that’s not inspiration to get out there and weed, I don’t know what is…
This actually took less than an hour- the weeds were mostly annual ones that pulled up fairly easily in the wet soil. I’ve had trouble rehabilitating this bed after the older strawberries stopped producing as much, and I can see they’re still not doing well. I gave them a layer of compost (that I ran out of mid-way through…), too, and will see what kind of growth they put out- now that they’re not choked by weeds- before seeing if I need to purchase more starts.
I ran out of compost in the middle of the bed, darn it, but it certainly looks more “spruced up,” don’t you think?
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