Tuesday, June 11, 2019

1764 Plants in 18C Colonial American Gardens - Virginian John Randolph (727-1784) - Asparagus

A Treatise on Gardening Written by a native of this State (Virginia)
Author was John Randolph (1727-1784)
Written in Williamsburg, Virginia about 1765
Published by T. Nicolson, Richmond, Virginia. 1793
The only known copy of this booklet is found in the Special Collections of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.


Asparagus....Grow a young shoot; are to be propagated either from the seed or roots. The seed are contained in those things which look like red berries. These are to be gathered from the most flourishing stalks, and laid in a tub for about three weeks to ferment. This will rot the husks, which will swim upon being rubbed between the hands, and having water poured upon them, but the seed will go to the bottom. Pour the water off gently, and the husks will be carried along with it. This being done two or three times, the seed will become perfectly clean. They are then to be laid on a mat or dish, and exposed to the sun to dry. When that is done, they may be put into a hag and pricked out in February or March, in beds about a foot asunder every way, anil never to be transplanted. But if they are to he transplanted, they may he sown as thick as you do Cabbage. If you propagate from the roots, those of a year old are most eligible, though if two, they will succeed very well. In planting them out, they should he placed about four inches under the surface of the ground, with the bud erect, against the side of the earth perpendicularly cut, so that the extremity of the roots may touch each other. This will put them about a foot asunder; the best time for transplanting them is when they begin to shoot, but before they appear above ground. The principal thing to be regarded with these plants, is the bed in which they are to be placed. A great apparatus was formerly made use of, but now seems *On all hands to be disregarded. Nothing more is necessary than to make your beds perfectly rich and light, that the head may not be obstructed in its growth upwards. Two feet of mould and dung is depth sufficient for any plant. They are to be kept clean from weeds, and nothing sown upon the beds. The fourth year from the seed they may be cut moderately, but it is better to wait till the fifth. About October the haum should be cut down, and the beds covered with rotten dung about six inches, part of which may he taken off in February or March, and the remainder forked up in the«beds, which will not only assist the roots, but raise the beds in some small degree yearly, which is an advantage. A spade is a very prejudicial instrument to them. Cut with a blunt pointed knife (some use a saw) and separate the earth from the plant, and cut it so as not to endanger the head of another that may be shooting up. There are joints in the roots of the Sparrow grass like the Wire grass, from every one of which a head is produced. Butchers' dung is what it delights in. I would recommend your beds to be about four feet wide, that the grass may be cut without treading on the beds, which often hardens the earth so much that the grass cannot come up, and must of course perish. In these beds I would have three rows; for the roots ought to have a sufficient quantity of earth on all sides. Beds thus managed, Miller says, will last ten or twelve years; Bradly says twenty, and I am inclined to join with the latter.