I would like to grow asparagus – are they difficult to get started?
They are a little particular, so it's best to give them what they need from the off. They like to bask in full sun in a part of the veg garden that is well manured.
If you are planting one row, dig a trench 10cm deep and 30cm wide along the length of the bed. Make a little ridge at the bottom of the trench for the asparagus plants to sit on. Plant your asparagus crowns about 30cm apart and firm in the soil around each one.
Around April is the usual time to plant them out, but if you have some then get them into the ground. It is best not to harvest any shoots for the first three seasons.
As the foliage yellows in autumn, cut it off. Come spring, make sure you give the plants a general fertiliser and this will set them up nicely. In year three, as the new shoots emerge, pile the soil up around them as you would with potatoes. This will ensure that the base of the stems stay white.
Harvest only after the third year and cut the stems about 8-10cm below ground level and only between April and June.
Can I take cuttings from a gooseberry bush?
October is the perfect time to take cuttings. Cut just under a bud 30cm down the stem. Make the cut at the top just above another bud.
Each 30cm stem should become a new plant, insert into a prepared bit of ground and make sure that the lowest bud is above ground. Firm in and, after a full year, lift the rooted cutting and replant in a nice sunny position.