This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Asparagus Forever!

Asparagus bed in Late May....aren't you tempted?
The drill for asparagus is that you buy crowns that are one to two years old; the older crowns are worth it, IMHO, because you can harvest lightly by the very next season.
In good soil, one would dig a trench to start a bed, but in the case of poorly draining, dense soil, (the kind I always seem to end up with,) the idea is to build a raised bed and essentially put in the crowns at ground level. My bed is 32' by 4' and 12" deep. I mixed sand, compost, and soil in equal amounts, and covered the crowns; then as the sprouts grew, I mixed more and filled in.
I had a load of compost and a load of sand delivered and mixed them in a wheelbarrow bed; I had a big pile of soil from putting in a driveway.) In Ohio, that task of filling in took most of the summer; in Arkansas, I was mixing and covering every other day and the bed was completed in a month; (so were my wrists....but I was doing drywall mud every day, too.) The recommended soil depth is 12 inches above the crowns, by the end of the process. Then over time you can add sand and manure on occasion, (and a mulch such as shredded leaves is not a bad idea when the bad heat hits. Theoretically this can also help prevent weeds that compete with your asparagus.) I had my asparagus in Ohio at the side of the garden, with lower pathways for drainage on either side; asparagus does not care for wet feet. Hubby Dearest tilled the rest of the garden and left raised ridges for the rest of the veggies. After 10 years I had really nice soil, great was still clay, of course, but easier to work with. (Then we moved away...)

When the bed was sparser, I didn't have trouble seeing the perennials behind the asparagus bed. Now the ferny stalks hide the plantings. This works well when the bed is full of spent daffodil and narcissus foliage, but in the case of the Shastas and the echinacea and lavender, I am not quite as pleased to be deprived of the pretty blooms.

Another happy benefit of your asparagus bed: you can use the shady space under the foliage for lettuces or mixed greens. This year my 'underplanting' includes a few bean plants, which are replacing 'Salad Rose' radishes planted in early March. I'll put in some additional mesclun mix; some of it will bolt, slugs will get some of it, but this won't be wasted space. (Look carefully to see the lettuce and bean sprouts.)

Life's mysteries: why can't I get this space to accept the font I want? I 'fixed' it by highlighting UPward, then changing the font back to Ariel. It wouldn't work in the other direction. (grumble, grumble.)


  1. Thanks for the tutorial on growing asparagus. Now I'm really sure I don't want to do that. It seems easier (and probably cheaper) to buy asparagus from the local farmers. It's nearly as fresh as getting them from my own garden. Plus my husband has the garden "sewn up" in tomatoes. He always plants way more than we can possibly eat, and he doesn't want to learn how to can them. So we make lots of gazpacho and other tomato-y dishes.

  2. I'm in awe of your energy.

    I think pecantart was mixing me up with Patricia/Sophie. I don't have a blog.

    How do you feel about cutting flowers? I love them inside the house but I hate to take them from the garden and usually don't.

  3. LOL. You're right-- an asparagus bed is not everyone's cup of tea. You are lucky to live in a place where farmers are growing it for sale. Our farm market here just opened for the season on Saturday...but my harvest of asparagus was over by May 1st.

    Ah, the gardening dilemma....I could never bear to thin things... But there is nothing like a fresh tomato. I eat them as long as they're coming out of a local garden (or my own;) the rest of the year I do without, settling for recipes that use canned diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce.

    I'll have another quilt post in a couple of days.

  4. Sara: if you DID blog, I imagine it would be full of good humor.
    As for the flowers, I almost always bring in the early blooming blooms from bulbs; it brightens up the house and promises me that Spring IS coming. Since I have them planted thickly, it does not leave the bed looking sparse. I admit I prefer to walk around the yard and patio, admiring the blooms in situ. There is something new every day, and a late afternoon stroll past the beds, preferably with a glass of wine, is a good way to unwind from the hurly-burly of retirement. (wink)

  5. Putting in a request for a Sara-blog too : )

    Well, Elaine, I promise you this...if I had a little house with a garden again, I would definitely put in an asparagus garden - plus anything else I could grow...especially, ESPECIALLY sweet peas! I am trying, for the 5th year in a row to try and get sweet peas to grow on my 3rd floor deck, fingers crossed...

    At my home in Ontario, I also grew climbing New Dawn roses...and I loved them...! My Grandmother came to Canada from Salisbury, England with a horticultural degree and after her Welsh husband died, she supported herself by her greenhouse bedding plants. It was from working in her amazing flower/veggie filled yard (every inch!) that I developed a love of things that come from the earth.

    Did I mention how glad I am that you created this blog? I love it!
    hugs, Sophie the Sock a.k.a. patricia (the geek)


Rose 'Crepuscular'

Asparagus bed--post harvest

Lake Conway Mutti und Kinder