Each year I try to focus my garden on different things. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they are a failure. Gardens should try different things each year and you might be surprised at how something grows in your garden. Here’s three things that I’m trying this year and hopefully you’ll try some new things also.

Asparagus is not for the faint of heart. It requires patience which is something that I lack. I took the plunge and purchased 25 bare root asparagus plants in hopes of developing an asparagus bed. It should be planted in March in middle Tennessee and it’s one of the few perennial vegetables that we can grow in Tennessee. If you’re going to grow asparagus, be sure to purchase named cultivars since these seem to be superior to the seed grown. The real key to growing asparagus is not harvesting for the first two years and leaving the foliage until fall time. Leaving the foliage will help the plant store energy for next year’s stalks.

Kabocha squash is a Japanese squash that I’m eager to try this year. You can sometimes see it referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. I had never heard of it until last year when the University of Tennessee started doing trials of it. This is one of the winter squashes and it can either be a vining type of a bunch type. There are a number of cultivars and be sure to look for ‘Sunshine’ or ‘Bonbon’. These have been awarded as All-American Selections for their ease to grow across the country.

Basil is extremely easy to grow provided you grow the correct cultivars. Our family loves basil and it can be used in so many ways in the kitchen. The issue with the basil is a newer disease called downy mildew. The older cultivars of basil seem to succumb to it so easily and die at the end of summer instead of producing leaves until frost. My goal is to grow some of the newer cultivars of basil such as the ones from Rutgers University such as “Obsession,” “Devotion,” and “Passion” as these are labeled as completely resistant to downy mildew.

As always, if you have any questions regarding any horticulture facet, feel free to contact Lucas Holman, Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent, Wilson County at 615-444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.

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