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Gardening with Laurie: Try planting asparagus this year

Jan. 26, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 25, 2012 at 7:26 p.m.


By Laurie Garretson

With the warm spring-like weather we've been having lately, it sure makes us gardeners want to get out and dig in the dirt.

Even though we still have several more official weeks of winter ahead, the question still remains: Could there still be really cold temperatures coming? We all know that's anybody's guess.

For all of you who just have to get out and plant something, there are still many colorful cool weather plants available to choose from.

Here are a few suggestions that will provide lots of color for the rest of the season: pansies, snapdragons, lobellia, alyssum and cyclamen.

These plants will provide color all through the cooler days. It will be the heat that brings an end to them.

For all you vegetable growers, it is time to plant asparagus. If you like asparagus and have never eaten any fresh from the garden, you'd be in for a big treat.

Fresh grown asparagus is so good that if you like it from the store and want to try growing your own, you'd better plant lots of extra plants. Fresh grown asparagus is so good that you'll eat most of it as you harvest.

It takes a strong person to resist eating it while you're harvesting.

Asparagus is a very easy perennial plant to grow.

Plant in a sunny location in soil that's rich with lots of compost, lava sand and organic fertilizer. It's very important that the planting area drains well. Soil that stays too wet can lead to diseases or worse. Soak the crowns (roots) in a liquid seaweed solution before planting.

If you have had problems with ticks, grubs or thrips in seasons past, now is the time for you to put out beneficial nematodes.

These microscopic helpers will take care of all three of these pests while they're still over wintering in your soil. Nematodes move through your soil with the help of moisture, so be sure to water the soil really well before and after you've put them out.

Once you've put them out, you will need to continue watering on a regular basis unless we have rain.

For some reason this season I have seen hundreds of green lacewings. I have never seen such a large population of these beneficial insects at any time of the year.

I would suspect that their abundance has something to do with our climate and the drought.

For whatever reason they are here, this is a very good thing. Lacewings and their larvae will eat all kinds of bad insects that cause problems for us gardeners.

Welcome these tiny helpers to your gardens, and always be selective with any insects you choose to kill.

If you are unsure whether a bug is bad or good, ask someone who knows. We gardeners need all the help we can get, and nature supplies us with many insects and bugs that will rid our gardens of pests.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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