It may be a little early to start transplanting asparagus but they needed moving because the walled garden at Shugborough Hall Staffordshire is being redesigned. As the soil had been well manured the previous autumn I just forked the soil over and leveled it with a rake. The soil is still quite heavy due to the rain over winter.
The asparagus plants are quite old and were easily divided. Plants this old do not like to be transplanted and they may not produce good spears for a couple of years. However, it is still worth a try. Asparagus has not been grown in this part of the garden for over 100 years so there is a chance that they will be able to grow quite well. It would have been better to buy in new, one year old named varieties because they will crop much better particularly in new ground. I would have also liked to put some mychorrhizal fungi in with the plant roots. However, digging up some of the dandelions; Taraxacum officinale there were mychorrhiza all over them and these might find their way onto the asparagus roots.
I moved the Shgborough rhubarb in February and put some rhubarb forcing pots over them. After that, I put some good farmyard manure over the whole bed. The rhubarb has just started to grow and the leaf stems are quite large in the forcing pots. The gardeners were a little concerned that there might be some evil chemicals in the straw from the cattle manure. Well, if there is, there is a much more concentrated amount of these chemicals in the cattle themselves and people eat the cow meat...
On the allotments, I have put old, black, plastic dustbins over the rhubarb to force it. Again they are beginning to grow well and produce some good petioles. I have put some more horse manure onto the old allotment mulching the blackcurrants. I like to do this every year and this year I remembered to give them a good dose of comfrey liquid before putting the mulch around. I haven't put any horse manure around the rhubarb on the old allotment because they had a good dose of compost last autumn. However, if there is any left in the bins by the gate next week I might put a thin layer over them. The rhubarb at the new allotment has been planted in the soil I manured with pigeon muck and that definitely does not need any extra manure.
I put a large pile of horse manure onto the brassica bed to make a hot bed for the cauliflowers. I turned it a couple of times to put some air in it so that it would heat up. The pile was also watered with comfrey liquid. I will dig a trench and put the manure at the bottom then cover the pile with top soil.
The grazing rye and tares that I planted in the autumn seems to have died off and needs to be dug into the top soil. It will easily break down releasing nutrients just in time for planting out the new vegetable plants. I think that I will empty the two compost heaps again and spread that over the pumpkin and squash bed and the leaf vegetable bed. These beds do not really need any more organic matter in them but you can't have too much of a good thing.
I am still triple, sieve digging the new allotment and the soil is looking quite good even though I say it myself. Very satisfying when you put this much work into it. However, it does not matter how good it looks because to be of merit it must sustainably produce good harvests. I have about 15 foot by 25 foot still to do and I will start to do this at the weekend. I want to finish the digging before I start to do anything else.
I will be grafting again tomorrow. I am still practicing so that I get it right when I do it seriously. I have got some M27 apple root stock and I am going to graft on some heritage apple scions. I have not grafted before and it is a skill that needs a lot of practice. I am quite optimistic about grafting though and if it is not successful I will try budding in the summer. I have some St. Julien A suckers that have grown from the plum on the new allotment. I am going to grow these on and have a go at budding during July and August.
I really need to start to sow some seeds but this cold weather is not encouraging me to do it. Maybe towards the end of the month would be a better time.