Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Building Habitat for Native Bees and Growing Custard Apples


Building Habitat for Native Bees

This year, gardening has been taken up by many people who have never gardened before.
But that’s not all, worm farming, keeping chickens and bee-keeping have become more popular because people are spending more time at home.
You probably know there are honey bees and Australian native bees.
But which type of bees pollinate your crops better or is there no difference?
Let’s find out..
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of 

Margaret suggests build habitat for the native bees because they are so much better at pollinating your flowers, in particular veggies in the tomato family, than honey bees. 

  • Building native bee habitat can be bricks made from clay, or wood and other materials.

Margaret's Clay Bricks Recipe

Mix clay with water then 2 or 3 parts of sand.
Margaret then pours the mix into moulds. One litre milk containers say from rice milk.
When dry she drills various size holes into these 'clay' bricks and places them strategically around the garden.

Most native bees are dormant or die during the Australian winters.
Flower are important from spring onwards.
Plant flowering trees with small flowers such as melaleucas or paperbarks.
  • Borage is also an excellent plant for bees because it has a high percentage of protein and sugar in the pollen and nectar.
  • Perennial basil is also fantastic for not only attracting bees but hover flies and other beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Why not also let some parsley or coriander go to seed.
  • Provide some water for the bees-not deep, and include some pebbles so the bees don't drown. Plant saucers are ideal for this purpose.
  If you have questions for Margaret about keeping native bees, or have information to share, drop us a line to


Custard Apples: Annona atemoya

One couldn’t get further from a vegetable by talking about growing a custard apple.
But here it is.

Annona atemoya is the scientific name of custard apples.
  • Did you know that Australian custard apple is unique in the world and is a hybrid of the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) and the cherimoya (Annona cherimola)?
  • Importantly, Australia is the largest commercial producer of custard apples? 

What Do They Look Like?

Firstly it's absolutely nothing like an apple and nothing like custard, but the flesh is quite creamy and sweet

What it looks like is a fat and soft choko but with more rounded bumps.

  • Inside there’s large, dark brown seeds and soft, white, supersweet flesh that’s great for a sweet tooth.

Buying your tree

  • You can buy the commercial variety which are Pink Mammoth or African Pride.
  • Both are sweet, juicy and full of flavour. 
  • Pinks Mammoth is the larger of the two varieties. It can grow up to 3kg and has yellow-pink colouring between the ridges of the bumps when mature. You can pull a Pink Mammoth apart with your hands and then eat it by just scooping out the flesh. 
  • African Pride is the smaller variety and is medium sized – usually between 500g-800g. 
Both varieties have a full appearance when mature, and the skin will start to smooth out the bumps. They both turn from dark green to light green.

  • Or you can grow smaller versions like dwarf custard apples called Tropic sun which is a small free fruiting tree suitable for home gardens.Tropic sun has ripe fruit with a sweet creamy textured pulp with fewer seeds. Pick the fruit when it’s firm and let it ripen at room temperature. 
  • The Tropic Sun custard apple tree is best suited to warm tropical and sub-tropical regions along Australia’s east coast (e.g. from the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland down to Alstonville in northern New South Wales). 
  • There’s another one called Geffner which is an Israeli cultivar. Geffner has a good amount of fruit with exceptionally good flavour and is known to be self pollinating, setting fruit every year. A very reliable tree that doesn’t need much maintenance for home gardens and can be grown in a pot. 
How to Grow
If you want to grow this tree, then plant it in a sunny well drained position but protected from hot dry winds.
This is because this tree has soft brittle wood that’s easily damaged by wind especially when it’s bearing fruit.
Custard apples don’t like frost because frosts can kill or severely damage even mature trees.
So if you want to grow this one, grow it in a pot and move indoors over winter or cover the tree with fleece.
Warm, well-protected, frost-free sites in districts receiving a predominantly summer rainfall are the most suitable.
Mulch your tree and prune it in Spring to an open vase shape.
Fertilize well after fruit set with an organic fertilizer.
Tip: Regular watering commencing at flowering to harvest is important.

Where to Plant
Custard apples are best suited to sandy loam soils, but well-structured clay loams are suitable. Although the tree's main feeder roots are relatively shallow, at least 1 m of well-drained soil without heavy clay or rock is needed to avoid root rot and ensure good tree performance. Where the topsoil is less than 1 m deep, plant the trees on mounds.

Care of your custard Apple trees and Where do they grow best in Australia?
Custard apple fruit are susceptible to skin discolouration and splitting when prolonged temperatures below about 13°C are experienced during the later stages of fruit development.
To minimise this, choose a location that’s relatively warm, in the early winter.
Temperatures of 25°C to 28°C during flowering (October to February) are favourable for good fruit set. At temperatures above 28°C, custard apples produce more growth and fewer flowers, and drying of flower parts increases. For this reason, custard apples are not suitable for coastal tropical or hot inland areas.

Here’s a great tip:
For the novelty of growing a custard apple you can grow it from the seeds from fruit bought at the fruit and veg shop.
  • Just sow them like any other seed. They take ages to germinate, like three months minimum up to 12 months. 
  • There are 2 ways to grow them from seeds 
  • 1st way is the paper towel method, with this method you put 2-3 seeds in the paper towel wet the towel then fold them and wrap them up with sandwich plastic bags then keep warm inside on window or somewhere else that’s warm. 
  • 2nd method is in plastic cups or small pots: plant a seed in the pot water it and cover the whole pot with clear plastic wrap and keep away from frost.. and in 2-3 weeks you will see sprouts come out. 
  • You’ll most likely not get the custard apple tree that produced the fruit you’re getting the seed from, because they are a hybrid between what's commonly known as a Sugar apple and a Cherimoya. But, you never know, you just might end up with the next world beater or something not quite so good or anything in between. It's good fun all the same. 
How do You Eat Custard Apples?
Custard Apples are only eaten when soft, and only the flesh is eaten.
To eat them just cut in them in half and scoop out the white flesh.
The Custard Apple should be moist with a pleasant sweet aroma.
Once ripe, custard apples can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If the skin has gone purple or black, they have passed their best eating quality.
Why Are They Good For You?
Even if you think you can’t grow a custard apple, there’s plenty of reasons why you might buy the fruit.
They’re delicious raw or you can bake them in muffins and teacakes.
Drinks and smoothies are another way custard apple is used along with syrups, jams and marmalade.
Custard apple sauce also pairs well with various meats.
Custard apples contain protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, energy and very little fat. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium with some B2 and complex carbohydrates.


How To Choose The Right Pruning Tools and Grow Parsley


Tips on Choosing Tools

You might think you have all the garden tools you need in your shed right now, but there’s always lighter, and more ergonomic garden tools that are being released on the market that might make your job a lot easier.
Here I am talking with Tony Mattson

Or you may be thinking of upgrading some of your pruning tools.
So how do you choose which one is best?
Let’s find out..
I'm talking with General Manager of

Checklist #1
Tony’s tip is “buy what you can afford, rather than going for just the cheapest.”
Another tip: if you do a lot of gardening, then buy something is a bit more heavy duty. 
But more heavy duty does not mean the bigger the better.
sometimes, all you need is something that fits snugly into your hand,  
  • Also ‘Try before you buy” is the mantra

Checklist point #2
Another point in the checklist is reach.
Two feet on the ground is better that going up a ladder when it comes to pruning.
Think about extendable poles for that extra reach.
Many pruning tool are now much lighter and holding those tools with extendable handles is much easier.
Checklist point #3
Are there spares available for the tools that you want to purchase?
Are the spares more expensive than the tool itself?
Checklist point #4
Warranty covers poor workmanship or poor assembly or poor parts that go into making the garden tool.
The warranty does not cover the chips or blunting you get from heavy pruning. Tony calls these consumables, like ordinary wear and tear on any piece of equipment.

If you have questions for Tony about pruning tools or have information to share, drop us a line to or write

 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Parsley-Petroselinum crispum is, by far the most commonly mentioned herb in recipes all over the world.

  • Parsley’s name comes from two Greek words Petrose meaning rock; beause it grows on rocky cliffs and old stonewalls in the Mediterranean; and selenium an ancient name for celery-so one can think of it as “rock celery”.

We all know what Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) looks like.

That bright green, biennial herb that is very common in Middle Eastern, European, and Australian cooking.

  • Parsley comes in two forms, curly leaf and Italian or flat leaf.

Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish but many people think flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavour but I find it hard to tell the difference.

But did you know that scientific evidence shows that from chemical analysis, flat leaf parsley has much higher levels of essential oil, so it must be true?

A Bit of History

  • Did you also know that both types of Parsley were around and used by ancient Romans in the fourth century BC?
  • Something you might not have known is that the Ancient Greeks crowned winners of major sporting events with wreaths of parsley.
  • There’s an old wives’ tale that says you could bring about the demise of an enemy by plucking a sprig of parsley while speaking his (her?) name.
  • In Medieval times, revellers placed it on their tables and around their necks to absorb food odours.
  • Parsley has also used as a poison antidote.And was introduced into England from the Mediterranean, where it originally grew wild, in the 16th century and in The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit “ate some lettuce and some broad beans, then some radishes, and then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.”

Growing Parsley.

Parsley seeds are slow to germinate.

I’ve heard that the reason for the slow and unreliable germination of parsley is that the seed goes nine times to the Devil and back before coming up.

The un-germinated seeds are the ones that the Devil keeps for himself.

  • Here’s a tip to help with germination- To give them a jump start try soaking them in water for 24 hours before planting. Parsley seeds should be planted in a shallow trench and covered over with a 1.2 cm layer of fine soil

I find Parsley sows itself if you let a couple of plants go to seed.
  • Another reason for letting it go to seed, especially for organic gardeners, is that the flowers of Parsley attract beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and predatory lacewings.
These are the bugs that eat the troublemaker bugs in the garden.

  • Parsley needs full sun, but will cope with a little shade. 

It likes well drained soil that’s got some organic matter like cow manure or garden compost mixed in with it.
It will grow in pots or containers, but because it has a large tap root when it matures, you’ll need to pull it out and start again every couple of years because it’ll have used up the potting mix by then.
Parsley may be cut from the stalks any time after the leaves are fully formed.
Cut the outside leaves and stems, but allow the inner stems to grow so that there is a continuous production of new leaves.

Why Is it Good for You?

Parsley has many health benefits.
It has dietary calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, carotenes, ascorbic acid, and vitamin A.1 and vitamin C and folic acid.
It’s also good for blood pressure, the heart and stomach, and for pain relief. Arthritic aches and pains are supposed to be relieved by taking parsley.
Parsley is mildly laxative –but I haven’t found out how much of it you need to eat for this to work.
Make a hot poultice of Parsley to relieve insect bites and stings.
  • Parsley is a natural breath freshener.
If you chew on a few sprigs of Parsley it’s supposed to reduce the odour of garlic breath.This is thanks to parsley’s high chlorophyll levels.


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Small Native Shrubbery Times Three


Scientific Name:Leptospermum flavescens 'Cardwell.'
Common Name: Yellow Tea tree
Family: Myrtaceae
Growth: 1.5- 2m in height
Distribution: south coast of New South Wales up to far north Queensland.
Native Habitat: sandstone derived soils.
Flowering: late winter to summer (August to January.) Flowers are cup shaped, creamy white.
Tea trees when they are in heavy flower, you can't see the leaf because they are so floriferous!
  • Leptospermum Cardwell is a tea tree with intensely fragrant leaves all year round, and is covered in typical tea tree flowers from late winter to summer.
Leptospermum 'Cardwell' is a small tidy bush with a weeping habit. Looking similar to a miniature willow tree.

After flowering the little nut like fruits appear on the bush.
I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Tea trees are not necessarily long lived so getting 5 years out of this small shrub is probably good going.
Plant tea trees in fairly sandy or light soils rather than heavy clay soils.
Bird and insect attracting makes it a lovely addition to your garden.
Look out for the “Cardwell’ cultivar because of it’s weeping habit and how it’s covered in tiny flowers that make it stand out like a beacon when planted in your garden.


Scientific name: Myoporum parvifolium
Common Name: Creeping Boobialla
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Distribution: south western New South Wales, central and western Victoria and eastern South Australia.
Description: mat forming shrub with tiny, linear leaves
Growth: spread is up to 3 metres
Flowering:late spring through to early autumn.

Are you after a low growing plant that’s tough, has pretty little flowers, and doesn’t mind neglect?
Sounds too perfect, but there is such a plant and it’s endemic to Australia.
Let’s find out more about creeping boobialla
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert. 

Also bird and insect attracting makes it a lovely addition to your garden. 
this is one tough little plant, coping with dry sandy soils for long periods, even saline soils.
Excellent as a bank stabiliser in sun or part shade.
  • Creeping boobialla is also excellent as a lawn alternative in low traffic areas.
  • Once the plant has established, you can virtually forget it about.


Common Name: Boronia
Scientific Name: Boronia megastigma; Boronia spp.
Family: Rutaceae
Distribution: in most states
Flowering: winter to spring; flowers are 4-petalled either star shaped or bell-shaped; flower colour is mainly pink or brown, also yellow and green.
Foliage: many have highly aromatic leaves.

yellow tea tree,

Spring usually is bursts on the scene with flowers galore and abundance of heady scent from many different plants.
If you wanted the queen of scented plants though, you can’t go past this smell native shrub, the boronia, that offers a scent way above its class in size. 
Sounds lovely doesn’t it and it’s endemic to Australia.
Let’s find out more…
I'm talking withAdrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert. 
  • Butterfly and insect attracting, boronia always make a lovely addition to your garden. 
  • Plant it where you can enjoy the scent the most, somewhere near the back door, or your outside eating area would be idea.

Most perfumed cultivars:
  • Brown Boronia:Boronia megastigma
  • Red Boronia (B. heterophylla),
  • Pale-pink Boronia (B. floribunda),
  • the green-flowered, Bremer Boronia (B. clavata),
  • Winter Boronia (B. purdiana),
  • Yellow Boronia (B. tetrandra) 
  • Native Rose (B. serrulata). 
Look out for these different cultivars of boroniasin your nursery, not just the brown boronia.

If you have any questions about anything gardening, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Creating A Madras Curry and Growing Coriander


During winter our favourite foods are those slow cooked casseroles, but you may not have realised that curries, are in fact a form of slow cooked casserole.
The main difference is that they’re usually got a lot more spices in them and they aren’t necessarily spicey hot. 
Ian says " a lot of people forget that in effect, a curry is a casserole with a distinct number and type of spices."
If you think about it, that's perfectly true, because curries tend to have cheaper cuts of meat that need simmering for a couple of hours, just as you would a casserole.
But because curries hail from countries where the spice trade was high in importance, those countries cuisine, reflect  the spices that they produced.
I'm talking with herb and spice guru, Ian Hemphill from 
Let’s find out..

Ian’s tip is “You can actually start to make a curry by making a sweet spice blend.” Curries need not always be hot as in bitey hot
  • Start with cinnamon, add, allspice, cloves, ground coriander seed.
  • Then add turmeric and cummin, paprika, some chilli (a little or a lot).
  • And this is basically a madras style curry.
  • When all these are blended together, you can't go wrong.
  • If you're wondering what proportions, first smell the individual spices. 
  • If they smell strong, such as ground cloves, then add only a small portion.
  • You can also add some dried curry leaves from your curry tree-fry some until they're crispy and save to use as a garnish after cooking.Murraya koenigii
If they smell mild, add more, such as coriander, up to 1 tablespoon, and cummin, about 2 teaspoons.
The trick is balance of flavours. One thing is to not overdo the cloves, pepper and chilli.
  • Another tip is roasting spices is not always necessary, particularly if you’re making a vegetable curry.
  • If you'r curry blend is a little too hot for your liking, you can tone it down by stirring some greek yoghurt through it.
If you have any for Ian about spices or herbs or have information to share, drop us a line to or write

O 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Coriander: Coriandrum sativum

  • What is Coriander ? Is Coriander really Cilantro or is that just what Americans call it?
Well it’s just a bit of a technical difference to confuse us poor gardeners. 
Cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant and coriander refers to the seeds.

In Australia we call the leaves and the seeds coriander and some people even call it Chinese parsley.
  • So coriander leaf is nothing else but cilantro.
People either hate it or love Coriander because it does have a pungent citrus flavour to the leaves.

  • Coriander flowers belong in the Apiaceae or carrot family, where Parsley, dill and carrots belong.
A Bit of History
Coriander has been grown for over 3,000 years.
Did you know that about half a litre of coriander seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen?
Because this plant doesn’t grow wild in Egypt, this suggests that coriander was grown in the gardens of ancient Egyptians.
The Chinese once believed it gave you immortality and in the Middle ages it was used as part of a love potions.
  • Coriander is an annual herb because it flowers, sets seed then dies in under a year..
So why should we grow Coriander.
Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.

In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make Green Curry paste. 

I just mash it up in a food processor when I make that paste. 

Now here’s a big tip:
  • Always grow coriander from seed, sown in the exact spot you want it to grow as it absolutely HATES being transplanted.
  • Transplanting coriander stresses it so that it goes straight to seed and then it dies. And you never get any leaves at all!
  • Coriander gets a has a big taproot as it grows so growing it in a pot won’t work either, it’ll go straight to seed as well., 


For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
Temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
Cool temperate zones, October to November,

  • Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.Whether or not you sow them in rows, scatter them amongst your other veggies, or use them to grow as a shade plant for your lettuce, it really doesn’t matter.
  • Coriander takes a couple of weeks to germinate, so go do it after my program. 
  • Coriander grow fairly big, about 50 cm or 2 feet tall. 

Big Tip: Grasshoppers don’t like coriander, so plant it around the spinach to stop the grasshoppers eating holes in the leaves.

  • You want about 5 cm between the plants if you grow it for the leaves..
Leave a few plants to go to seed, yes, on purpose so you have a continuous supply. 
Not only that, it’s a good idea to leave in a few plants that have gone to flower because the Coriander flowers are an important food source for beneficial insects, especially little parasitic wasps and predatory flies.

  • When your plants is big enough, take the leaves off from the base of the plant. Just make sure the plant is big enough to cope and leave some leaves on it so it can continue to grow.
  • As soon as that flower stalk appears, your coriander plant stops making more leaves.
  • Just remember when coriander plants get stressed, or in hot weather, or once they reach a certain age, they stop making leaves and instead start growing a tall flower stalk.

Keep watering and feeding your coriander plants well, and wait for the flower to develop and set seeds.
In hot weather this may take as little as 4 - 6 weeks from when you first put the seed in the ground.

Storing Coriander or Cilantro
Fresh cilantro (coriander) should be stored in the refrigerator in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Use as early as possible since it loses flavour and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods.
Harvesting coriander seed :
Just wait till the flower heads are dry. And now you should have enough coriander seed to cook with and still plenty left to throw around your garden next year!
It may look a bit untidy, but it's only for a short few weeks.

Why Is It Good For You?
Coriander contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fibre which help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" while increasing HDL or "good cholesterol" levels.
The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
It’s also rich in many vital vitamins like folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin- A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Coriander leaves provides 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
Coriander is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K


Thursday, 6 August 2020

Creating A Sense of Enclosure And The Food of Kings


How to Create a Sense of Enclosure.
In the middle of winter, the only sun you can see may be outside.
So it would be nice to venture outdoors into the winter sun but what if you're overlooked?
 May not feel so welcoming.
So what can you do? 
Magnolia grandiflora 'Teddy Bear.' 4-5m height (pictured)

I talk with garden designer Peter Nixon of Paradisus Garden Design.

What you want is some sort of screening hedge or planting that not only hides that fence, but hides it well enough so you don't see any fence.
That would mean you need the 'bole length' or the gap between ground level and the first branch, to be at a minimum.
So what can you choose?
Here are Peter's best tips:
  • Choose things that stay dense and non transparent from the ground.
  • Choose useful heights, especially if it's the northern boundary because you don't want to cut the winter sun.
Recommended plants
Magnolia grandiflora 'Teddy Bear'-height is 4-5 m

Magnolia hybrid "Fairy." height 3m

Heliconia 'Hot Rio Nights.' for northern sub-tropical zones.(norther rivers and up). height 3m, features a lush paddle leaf.

Hibiscus boryanus- plant in areas where temperatures are above 5 Deg C

Drepanostachyus falcatum -Blue Bamboo is a clumping bamboo height to 4m

You can underplant with smaller shrubs but you need to do this at the same time as you plant the larger shrubs otherwise the soil underneath will be compacted with the roots.


Asparagus or Asparagus officinalis from the Liliaceae or lily Family.

Asparagus is a perennial plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas.

Vegetable names are an interesting lot and the name “asparagus” comes from the Greek language meaning “sprout” or “shoot.

  • Did you know that Asparagus has been around for at least 2,000 years?

Fast forward to the 16th Century, where asparagus was eaten a lot in France and England. 

During that time Asparagus was known as the “Food of Kings” because King Louis XIV of France loved to eat them.

In Fact King Louis loved them so much that he ordered special greenhouses built so he could enjoy asparagus all year-round?

There have been asparagus recipes found in Arabian love manuals as far back as the 16th century, and experts say you need to it over three consecutive days to get the full effect. Heh Heh.

Asparagus was so highly regarded in England that the thought of setting up a colony in Australia without asparagus was unthinkable, so seed was included in the list of vegetables carried by Sirius, one of the ships of the First Fleet.

If you look in old seed catalogues that date back as far as the 19th century you’ll find that Asparagus was popular with Australians even back then.

What is Asparagus exactly?

The plant has a crown that is actually an underground stem from which asparagus spears shoots

The roots are called rhizomes (pronounced rye-zomes).

On top of these rhizomes grow spears, which are tender and succulent to eat, are slightly glossy, (about 18-25cm long and 1.5-2cm wide,) with many small, bumpy, triangular scales (called bracts) concentrated in the top quarter of the stem.

  • Some gardener might be thinking where can I buy Asparagus to grow?

In fact, do I buy seed, or tubers or what?

  • You can in fact buy Asparagus seed, including Purple Asparagus seed from online companies such as Green Harvest or diggers.
  • But now’s the time to buy something called Asparagus Crowns, and you can buy these from just about anywhere even some supermarkets.You can buy the Crowns online or from mail order catalogues as well


Winter is the best time to plant asparagus crowns because that’s when they’re dormant.

Specifically though, in sub-tropical and temperate districts it’s August until November, for cold districts, from September to November.

But for arid areas, its June and July and again in January.

So what do you do with Asparagus crown really?

Be sure to buy fresh crowns, as they often dry out while on display.

  • So find a sunny spot in the garden where you don’t mind some veggies growing there year after year.
  • Preferably with soil that’s been given some Dolomite and heaps and heaps of compost and complete plant food.
  • To plant, follow the instructions on the packet to the letter, don’t leave out anything.
  • It may say something like “dig out a shallow trench 30cm wide and 20cm deep.Mix in well-rotted manure to the base of the trench and cover the base with a 5cm layer of excavated soil. “
  • Place the crowns onto a small mound in the centre of the furrow, so that the roots point down at about 45°, spread the roots out carefully.

  • Backfill with compost to a depth of 7.5 cm. Space the plants 45cm apart, with 1.2 m between rows. Fill in the trench gradually as growth progresses.  Doesn’t sound too hard does it?

In spring Asparagus will grow long and slender with soft fernlike


  • Don’t cut any spears in the first Spring, because this is when the crowns are developing.
  • Spring is also the time you need to add 100g per sq m of fertiliser like fish meal or blood and bone.
  • Then top with a thick hay mulch.

Asparagus produces both male and female plants shoots as male plants. 

Modern cultivars are all male, as male plants produce more and better spears.

If you have any Female plants, which have berries, pull these out   because the red berries are poisonous and don’t produce as many edible spears.

During Autumn and Winter the tops will go yellow and brown off, cut off the old tops about 7.5 cm from the soil surface.

Frost damage causes distorted or dead spears, often some time afterwards if the tips are just below soil level.

Cloches or fleece can hold off light frosts.


Don’t cut any spears for the first two years after planting. In the third year, gather spears for the first month of the growing season, but in following years, if the plants are strong, cut for eight weeks.

Slice off spears with a sharp knife just below the soil before they get more than 18cm tall.

In warm weather, this may mean cutting every few days.

Don’t cut any more after late December so that plants have enough time to build up their growth reserves for winter. 

In the following years, mulch the beds thickly with compost and manure in late winter. 

Remember patience in the early stages will help to get a life span of 15 years or even longer for your asparagus.

Spears are harvested in two ways which gives them a different colour.

White asparagus is grown below the ground and not exposed to light.

When harvested it’s cut below the surface before being lifted out of the soil.

If spears are allowed grow in sunlight they turn a green colour. 

For green, only hill about 10cm (4”) and allow the spear to grow 15cm (6”) above the soil, making sure to cut the spear just below ground level. 

Asparagus is most delicious when the time between cutting and serving is kept to a minimum.

When you’re cutting the spears, do it carefully to avoid injuring the crown. 

Farmers harvest by a rule-of-thumb, if the spears are thicker than a pencil cut them before the spears branch, usually at approx. 20 cm high, if they are skinnier, leave them to develop and feed the crown.

  • By the way, here’s a tip: Asparagus does not grow better or faster if you plant expensive two-year-old crowns, or even one-year-old crowns. Reason: they have been dug up, the roots chopped, dried and neglected, if not by the supplier, then by the gardener.
  • Two-year crowns will give you a small crop in two years time. One-year crowns will give you a small crop in two years time.
  • Sowing from seed will give you a small crop in two years time and they’ll be stronger. The choice is yours.

Why Is It Good For You?

Asparagus has a great flavour and is very affordable.

Asparagus is low in kilojoules, without fat or cholesterol, while providing fibre. That makes it a must for any diet, including a weight loss diet.

Asparagus contains B group vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and biotin-is a great source of folate, with a serve giving us over 20% of our daily needs.

A serve of asparagus has ¼ of your RDI of vitamin C and lastly Asparagus has potassium to help keep our blood pressure healthy. • •