Eighth bed and counting (2011) by Mary

In case you read the last entry about the 8th bed, I want to jump ahead in time to tell you how it evolved. But first, I need to pause and talk about a machine the guys think is a miracle worker, called a Mantis. They don't know how they could do without it. Nancy has used it and loves it, too. It is about the size of a lawn mower, but shaped like a praying mantis, or maybe a hand-pushed garden cultivator, except it has an engine. Weighing only 24 pounds, it is easy to carry and handle.

The mantis was first used by us in the 8th bed. It plowed right through the earth and dried up weeds. Then the guys added horse manure, unfinished compost and went over it again and again until that former weed patch was perfect garden soil.

Asparagus: We were unfamiliar with growing asparagus and found it very interesting. The mantis helped dig the required deep rows and then we began the planting. Todd and I opened the packages to find the crowns with long, thick roots. I can best describe one as an octopus because that is what I thought of the whole time we planted. First, Todd made little mounds of dirt, and I sat the octopus on top and spread its many long, thick tentacles out so they went over the mound most of the way around. King of the hill! Then we covered them with dirt and watered them in. After they came up, we covered them with more dirt, and were finished. 

I had read that you need about 25 plants for two people, and later learned the reason is because when you go to harvest them, you only get one or two spears from each plant at a time, so you need quite a few plants to make a meal. However, you can continually go back and harvest more meals for four to six weeks in the spring and early summer. Can't wait.

Strawberries: Although we planted around fifty asparagus plants, we had a lot of space left, and we all agreed to fill it with June-bearing strawberries. This bed is not close to the house so we doubted anyone would want to check on ever-bearing the whole summer. Especially in the heat. Hopefully, with the June-bearing, we should be able to pick to eat during the spring and also freeze a large quantity.  

Horseradish: There was still a wasted corner space by the three gooseberry bushes we had planted in a triangle. Horseradish is invasive, so Todd constructed a small raised bed for our five roots. Larry & I struggled over how we were supposed to plant them. The directions said it was important the 3 to 4 inch roots were placed at a 45 degree angle with the slanted end down. We checked and rechecked each root and never could find a slanted end. Finally, I said, "Let's just lay them horizontal and see what happens." They all came up.

So now, our 8th bed, built to protect 3 gooseberry bushes, also holds horseradish, asparagus, and strawberries. Something for everyone, all perennials, and, yes, with all the spring work to be done, we did appreciate the fence being put up in the cold, drizzly, winter.  

The Mantis - A wonder machine.

  Revived gooseberry bush with horseradish in the back corner.

back to 8th bed

       New strawberry plants.           

   Strawberry time in our city


Left: The asparagus is doing well!                                     The corral

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