by Charlene Burgi
This past weekend found Jack and me in Marin joining in some family and friend fun time. While there, I also took advantage of perusing a local nursery to see what plants needed a home here in the northeastern part of the state. Much to my delight, a large variety of bareroot plants were still available.
Bareroot season is normally short—and even shorter with the warm weather we have all been experiencing. It is only a matter of time until higher temperatures will cause the plants to leaf out. At that time, those plants will require potting in containers. Time, therefore, is of the essence to get a wide variety of quality plants at a reduced price. It is also the time of year that we are planning our vegetable gardens, pruning fruit trees, and considering if we can benefit from planting a deciduous shade tree on the southwest side of the house to passively filter out any summer sun.
| Asparagus, shallots, and rhubarb
As I wandered about, rhubarb, asparagus, and shallots soon filled my basket. Raspberries, strawberries, and grapes called to me, as did the fruit trees, but the brakes of temptation were applied until we can build a bullet-proof, critter-resistant garden. (The gophers devouring over 50 onions growing in ground in the wire-floored greenhouse was the last straw for this gardener! I swear they have a GPS system and found a tiny crack in the armor for entrance!)
With the gophers infiltrating the greenhouse, raised planters are looking far more attractive. Containers would not be an issue for the shallots or rhubarb, but the asparagus would be a challenge since we need to build deeper containers for their growth.
Many people steer away from growing their own asparagus for several reasons. First, asparagus are perennial loners wanting to have their own large dedicated space. If not contained, they will invade other planting areas. Planting them requires the tedious process of digging a foot-deep trench in sandy soil and gradually backfilling the trench as the plants grow taller until it is backfilled to grade. It typically takes three years to harvest an edible crop of asparagus. Winter requires cutting back the fern-like foliage to the ground and top dressing with well-rotted manure. However, the benefits of these spring delicacies far outweigh the extra effort it takes to grow them. It is hard to resist a platter of roasted asparagus with sea salt, garlic, and olive oil; or even steaming, barbequing, or pickling them.
Now to begin constructing the large, gopher-proof deep planter box for their new home!