Vegetables - Asparagus
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
According to W. G. Dawson of Dorchester county, Maryland, " Asparagus, when properly grown and carefully packed, is a good paying crop, and probably the most certain of all in the perish-able list. This is because the supply rarely* exceeds the demand, asparagus being used so extensively in its fresh state and for canning. As to varieties, there is much difference of opinion, but one cannot go far astray in choosing Palmetto, Giant Argenteuil, or Barr's Mammoth. All of these are good, but more depends upon the grower than upon the variety.
"Where one desires to produce the plants for setting, it is best to sow the seed in drills early in the spring, in order that it may germinate and get a start before the grass and weeds come along.
This is very essential, as the plants are tender when young and many will be destroyed in the necessary hand cleaning, even under the most favorable conditions. Frequent cultivation and heavy fertilization will force the growth, which is desirable,, as plants one year old are much to be preferred, because they better withstand the shock of trans-planting than when older.
" The soil is an important item in locating the crop. Land that crusts after a rain is not desirable, for it will cause the loss of many stalks by reason of crookedness. Therefore, light soil is usually chosen, and wisely. Asparagus is a heavy feeder and a generous supply of plant food will usually bring good results. Farm manure does much to keep the soil mellow as well as help feed the plant, but it is not often possible to do more than manure in the row. After the harvesting is done, and as soon as the land is well worked, some growers sow cowpeas to shade the ground, smother out weeds and grass, and improve the land as well."
T. B. Lutes of New Jersey says : " The net proceeds from one acre f asparagus in a favorable season should be $100. Some growers, however, who have a retail trade can realize probably $zoo an acre. It all depends on the variety, the demand, and the man. We cut asparagus every day. The fact is, it grows faster than we can cut it. At daylight every morning we aim to be out in the field cutting asparagus. The idea is to get all cut over by noon, as it takes considerable time after it is cut to get in shape for market. We cut white grass, that is, grass grown in earth ridged up for this purpose. In cutting three rows stalks are laid on one row, then the picker-up gathers this grass in crates that have galvanized wire bottoms, care being taken to keep the heads of the shoots all in one direction.
"These crates are taken to the packing house, where they are first doused in a tank of water several times to remove all dirt, then taken to the packing tables, where they are placed in bunches 8 inches long and about 4 inches in diameter. As soon as bunched, each bunch is placed in water to keep it fresh and plump. Then it is taken out of the water tubs and placed in strawberry crates, placing six in each layer, or 24 bunches to each crate. These crates are then shipped by freight to New York city or Newark, New Jersey, where they are sold by reliable commission dealers and returns made daily. The utmost care is necessary in handling asparagus, especially in very hot weather, and it sometimes happens that it will so heat in shipping that it will hardly sell at any price. To remedy this I always stand the bunches up in crates during extreme hot weather."