Asparagus should be planted the first spring that the owner comes into possession of the land, and if the house is yet to be built, let the Asparagus-bed be planted at once, as it takes the roots two or three years to acquire sufficient strength to give a crop. For an ordinary family a bed of six rows of fifty or sixty feet in length, and three feet apart, will be sufficient, the plants in the rows being set nine inches apart. In planting it is customary to use two-year-old plants, but it often happens that as large a plant is raised from seed in good soils in one year as in a poorer soil in two years; in such cases the one-year-old plant is preferable. The preparation of the Asparagus bed should be made with more care than for most vegetables, from the fact that it is a permanent crop which ought to yield as well at the end of twenty-five as of five years, if the soil has been well prepared. The asparagus bed, to start with, should be on ground thoroughly drained, either naturally or artificially, and if choice can be had, on a rather light sandy loam. This should be trenched and mixed with sufficient manure to form a coating of at least six inches thick over the bed; this manure should be worked into the soil by trenching to the depth of two feet, as the roots of the plant will reach quite that depth in a few years. In setting, the crowns of the plants should be placed at least three inches below the surface. It makes but little difference whether it is planted in spring or fall; if in spring, it should be done as early as the ground is dry enough to work, and if in fall, just as soon as the plants can be had, which is usually in the early part of October. We prefer fall planting on light. welldrained soils, for the reason that if it is done then, young roots are formed, which are ready to grow on the approach of spring, hut if the planting is done in March or April, this formation, of new roots has to take place then, and causes a corresponding delay in growth. Plants are sold by market gardeners and seedsmen, and as it will save a year or two, to purchase them, it is not worth while to raise them from seed in a private garden. The edible portion is the undeveloped stems, which if cut away as soon as they appear, are followed by others, which start from the crown of the plant. The cutting, if continued too long, would finally exhaust the root, hence it is customary to stop cutting as soon as early peas become plenty, and allow the remaining shoots to grow during the remainder of the season, and thus accumulate sufficient strength in the plant to allow it to produce another crop of shoots the next season. The engraving, (Fig. 68), represents a strong plant with the earth removed from the roots; the shoots are shown in different stages of development, and it will be seen how readily careless cutting may injure the buds which are ready to produce a succession of shoots.
Fig. 68. - Asparagus.
The surface of the Aspargus bed should have a top-dressing of three or four inches of rough stable manure every fall, (November), which should be lightly forked into the bed in spring. The best variety is what is known as "Van Sicklen's Colossal." In some localities Asparagus is attacked by an insect called the Asparagus Beetle. The best method of getting rid of this pest, that we have found, is to coop up a hen and let the chickens pick up the insects and their eggs.