Monday, June 10, 2013

Past Project Progress

In the June lull of activity, while we wait for the pea pods to unfurl and the squash to blossom, it is a good time to check up on the progress of some long term projects.  The asparagus bed which I planted in 2011 was finally productive enough to really enjoy.  The trick to establishing an asparagus bed is to not eat it all at once.  So, I picked a third to a half of the emerging shoots.  Those left to grow are now taller than my head.

Having always steamed my asparagus, I was on the lookout for a better way of preparing it.  Neighbor Shelly came back from the best produce market in town with this recipe:
    Drizzle with olive oil
    Coat with bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese
    Bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes.

I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs, a Parmesan Romano blend and seasoned them with my favorite herb sea salt.  Then I baked them for 15 minutes at 350*.  It was OUTSTANDING.  I don't know if I'll even bother to buy that asparagus steamer pot I've had my eye on.

The asparagus I started with was all male Jersey Supreme and then I filled in with Mary Washington which, being female, is reseeding itself.  I'm not sure what to do with my little asparagus seedlings.  Its nice to have some to fill in and thicken up the patch around less productive crowns.

But, I'm thinking dozens stacked on top of each other is probably unwise.  Still looking for management tips there.

Speaking of things thickening up, way back in the early stages of this blog, I wrote about ordering Siberian Irises with no idea where I was going to plant them.  I settled on the well head in the lawn.  There are few things less attractive than a well casing with a bright blue faucet sitting in the middle of your back yard.  I've seen some interesting attempts to disguise them around here, but I like mine best.

Four years later those nine scrawny little plants have become a lush jungle.  In the spring when I actually use this hydrant for occasional filling of watering cans, they are short and out of the way.  By the end of May when we've begun using the rainwater storage instead, they fill in and are beginning to disguise the hydrant quite nicely.

It's hard to see the lovely colors in this photo, but the majority of them are lavender with some dark blue, pale blue and yellow as well.  Each year I keep an eye on the non lavender seed heads and make sure those seeds are well placed to increase the color variety.

And finally, the Apple Trees.  Four years ago I had trees grafted from the final remaining tree from the old apple orchard here.  This spring we took the tree tubes off and pruned them, and they are quite nice looking trees.

I was very excited to see blooms on one of the two.  But I didn't see any bees working on them.  Apple trees must be cross pollinated from a second variety.  This year the three other trees in our yard, the Yellow Transparent, the Empire, and the Macintosh all bloomed at once.  That's a pretty rare occasion.  On a nice dry day I snipped a bloom laden cross branch out of one of them, got up on a ladder, and hand pollinated each clump of blooms on the grafted tree.

I was rewarded with 6 little apples.  One from each of the flower clusters I could reach.  Success!

Now we will wait with bated breath to see if any or all of these little guys manages to hang on to maturity.  A lot can happen.  Birds, bugs, wind.  The first thing we will do is put bird netting on and hope for the best.  Four years is a long wait for an apple.


  1. My Dad scatters the Asparagus seeds along the fence line and grape arbor, etc. It's a post and rail separating us from the golf course, and the spears seldom get mown over, and provide some exercise hunting asparagus other than just trundling out to the regular bed he has.

    Many things are scattered and haphazard in my father's garden plans, though, and not likely what you would want in your beautiful landscaping!