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Maximizing Spring Growth: Frontline Farmer's Tips for Garlic, Asparagus, and Strawberries

Garlic greens are poking through the straw mulch on our farm.

Garlic Care emphasizes timely fertilization, diligent weeding, proper mulching to retain moisture and protect the soil, and regular irrigation for optimal growth conditions.

Strawberry Care for Spring involves pruning to encourage fruit production, strategic fertilization, mulching to suppress weeds and retain moisture, and careful planting of new runners for expansion. Weeding, thinning, frost protection, and companion planting are also important steps.

Asparagus Care, spring is a time for trimming dead foliage to allow new growth, enriching the soil with manure or balanced fertilizer, controlling weeds, ensuring consistent moisture through watering, and mulching to maintain soil conditions. Additionally, mounding soil around the crowns can support the plants and enhance their development.

Garlic Care for Spring

Our garlic requires meticulous attention this season! Here’s what we need to prioritize:

  • Fertilization: Begin fertilizing as soon as you see sprouts. Apply fertilizer every 10-14 days from when sprouts appear until about a week before garlic scapes emerge to ensure large, healthy bulbs.

  • Weed Management: Weeds significantly reduce bulb size. Start weeding early to manage them effectively and minimize nutrient competition.

  • Mulch: Keep the mulch in place to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and protect the soil. If it's decomposed, add more but remove only if the soil is waterlogged to allow drying.

  • Irrigation: Ideally we want to keep the garlic irrigated at I inch weekly. This matters as we turn water on in season. 

Additionally, if our plants show signs of stress or yellowing, a foliar spray of nutrients like compost tea or other organic solutions can help rejuvenate them. This year, I'm emphasizing the importance of side-dressing our garlic. Although it's a step we haven't taken in the past, I believe it will significantly benefit our crop's health and yield. Let's also ensure our garlic is well-mulched and constantly fertilized. 

Strawberry Care for Spring

As we transition into the warmer months, it's crucial to give our strawberry plants the attention they need to ensure a bountiful harvest. 

  • Pruning and Cleaning: Remove old, brown, and yellow leaves from your strawberry plants. This helps in making room for new growth. It's also a good idea to remove new runners, especially from plants that are 1-2 years old, to encourage the plant to focus on producing fruit instead of spreading.

  • Fertilizing: Apply pelleted chicken manure or a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer at the start of spring and again in the fall. We have ever-bearing strawberries, so an early spring fertilization is crucial for encouraging fruit production throughout the season.

  • Mulching: Refresh new mulch (or straw) around our plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and keep the fruit clean.

  • Planting New Plants: If we want to expand our strawberry patch, spring is the perfect time. We need to ensure the soil is well-aerated and enriched with organic matter like compost and we plant new runners or potted plants with care, making sure not to bury the crowns too deeply.

  • Watering: Strawberries need about 1 inch of water per week. 

  • Weeding and Thinning: Keep the strawberry bed free from weeds, which compete for nutrients and water. Also, thin out older plants to give space for younger, more productive ones.

  • Protection from Frost: Use row covers or fresh straw to protect blooming strawberry plants from late frost, which can damage flowers and reduce berry production.

  • Companion Planting: beneficial companion plants are borage, catnip, yarrow, sage, and thyme.

Asparagus Care for Spring

  • Trimming and Cleaning: The first step in spring care for established asparagus beds is to cut off the dead foliage from the previous season. This should be done at ground level to make room for new growth. Early spring, before new spears emerge, is the ideal time for this task. 

  • Mounding: While most guides don’t tell us to mound, I have found that asparagus farmers stand by the practice. For us it means to mix our fertilizer and soil in mounds around the base of crowns early in the season and as plants keep growing. 

  • Fertilization: After trimming, it's beneficial to fertilize the asparagus planting. An application of barnyard manure (50 pounds per 100 square feet) or a balanced garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10 (1 pound per 100 square feet) is recommended. We need to lightly till this in (maybe with a hula hoe) T into the top 2 or 3 inches of soil, and be careful not to disturb the crowns. The goal is to enrich the soil before the asparagus begins to grow​​.

  • Weed Control: Weeds compete with asparagus for nutrients, water, and light. Early spring weeding efforts are important, including using hoes. 

  • Watering: Asparagus plants require consistent soil moisture for optimal growth. The beds should receive at least one inch of water every week.

  • Mulching: Applying a fresh layer of mulch after fertilizing and watering helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the emerging spears. Also mulching will help us maintain an even soil moisture.

Written by Fatuma Emmad, FrontLine's Executive Director and Farm Director.


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