Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Asparagus in Midsummer
Recent rains have encouraged the asparagus to send up new shoots. Here is the handsome new stalk emerging from the leaf mulch (which helps to keep down weeds and retain moisture. Low rainfall totals and very high heat mean excessive evaporation and transpiration.)
This shoot is encouragingly healthy. I have been battling fusarium wilt (endemic in Arkansas) in this bed. Some research led me to give the bed a treatment of rock salt in mid-winter--about 1/2 lb for the 30 x 4 foot bed and its 25 crowns. Over the past two years there has been a visible improvement.
The shoots grow very rapidly, given the conditions. I estimate that this one grew six or seven inches in the past 24 hours. The ferns are 5 to 7 feet tall.
At about 4 feet, the new stalk sends out its ferny foliage--distinguishable right now due to the paler green color.
Movement in the leaf mulch led me to investigate. I witnessed a murder in progress! This handsome solitary wasp had been hunting. I realize it's hard to see, but the wasp (black with a tasteful orange spot) is standing over a spider (legs curled.) He will paralyze the spider, stuff it into a nursery burrow, and lay an egg on the body before covering the hole. When the larva hatches, it has a ready-made meal.