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Asparagus is easy to grow

Q: I’m interested in growing asparagus but have no experience. What do I need to do to grow it? I understand that Mary Washington is the preferred variety. Ed Faust, Elbert County

Asparagus can produce delicious spears for years in your garden. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES (For the AJC)

A: Asparagus is easy to grow. It is a perennial plant, so you don’t have to plant seeds each year. Asparagus plants are either male or female. Female plants produce more but smaller spears than the male plants. Old-time varieties such as ‘Mary Washington’ or ‘Martha Washington’ are not nearly as productive as newer varieties like ‘Jersey Giant’, ‘Jersey Knight’ or ‘Jersey Prince’. They produce three times as much as older cultivars. Thoroughly till an area 3 feet square for every crown you plant. Start with a half-dozen crowns. Plant more if your family enjoys the vegetable. Remember that asparagus is a heavy feeder. Visit georgiasoiltest.com to determine how much lime and fertilizer your garden needs. I have more details at bit.ly/GAasparagus.

Q: I have several small corn plants that have popped up under a bird feeder. Will this produce corn that I can eat?Anne McDaniel, email

A: All seeds used in bird food (millet, wheat, corn, sunflower, peanut, etc.) are delectable to birds, squirrels and chipmunks. If the seeds sprout, you’ll get more of the same. To my knowledge, all of these plants would be edible by humans. But you might not want to eat them, because the varieties used in birdseed might not be digestible by humans. Corn varieties, for example, vary from the small-kernel type we buy at the grocery to the large, hard-kernel kinds used for cornmeal, livestock feed and, you guessed it, birdseed. If you do get ears of corn, my recommendation is to leave them for the birds.

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Q: I’ve read about No Mow Fescue. My backyard is uneven and shaded and it sounds like fescue would be a suitable fit. But according to their online map, it’s not recommended in Georgia.Nina Ward, email

A: No Mow is a blend of creeping fescue and other fine-bladed fescue species. These fescues are not the same as the fescue we use for lawn grass in Georgia. Fine fescue tolerates shade pretty well but does not like summer heat and humidity. If your backyard is completely shaded, no grass will grow there. Consider using mulch and shade-tolerant plants.

Q: Your recent article on stiltgrass recommended to use a pre-emergent. Can you give the optimal application time to apply pendimethalin next year?Carol Smith, email

A: Pendimethalin will control stiltgrass if it is applied before its seeds germinate in spring. Stiltgrass seeds germinate before crabgrass seeds, and they continue sprouting into early summer. I recommend a half-strength application of pendimethalin in mid-February and a second half-strength application in mid-May.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.

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