Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Aspiring to Asparagus

loving asparagus is one of those "grown up" things i reckon.  first of all because for many of us it is a taste and flavour that we did not aquire until we grew up.  the other reason is because it takes patience to grow .... truly.  but as with all things, the reward of the wait is well worth it!

if you choose to grow asparagus from seed, then you can guarantee it will be 3-4 years before you start getting a good yield.  the other option is to grow crowns .... these are two year old plants that will start producing within 1-2 years.  i'm not a coward to say it ... i choose the crowns ... i would prefer to by them from reputable sellers (such as green harvest).  i want my asparagus patch to be big and bold ... so away we go!

when choosing where to plant your asparagus, location is essential.  this is not a crop that gets rotated ... once they are planted, they should stay in the same place as you'll find that asparagus, once settled in, will provide you with copious spears for decades to come.  so choose your location wisely!

the key to a good asparagus patch (well, as with anything i suppose), is really nutrient dense earth ... rich and yummy .... just enuf drainage to keep it yummy and fertile.  so last year we cut down a huge area of banana's (why?  another story for another day .... just trust me on this one).  banana's make great and rich mulch.  so i lined our bed with a plethora of fallen trunks .... and covered this with lots of old straw mulch.   ... and waited for a season to let it enrich.

the result, tho not that obvious, is a bed dense in nutrient bounty, just waiting for a spring plant.

the bed waiting to be built up
adding a little more yummy straw mulch before planting for good measure!

then you add your compost/ manure/ soil that you want to plant your asparagus in.  when planting out asparagus crowns it is important to remember that the roots need room to spread out and grow.  the best way to achieve this is to make a long furough with a ridge going down the centre ... this allows you to spread out the roots of the crown.

once you've done that it's time to gently arrange your crowns on the top of the ridge ... spreading out the roots so that they cascade down the sides of the ridge ... leaving the crown on the top.  once this is done, cover the roots and leave the crown just under the soil.

crowns spread out across the ridge down the middle of the
planting area ... be gentle!

now ... as any good gardener knows, when you plant something it always needs a friend .... a companion to spur it on to grow even more.  these beneficial relationships are usually two way streets, with each plant providing something for the other.  these benefits tend to be in the form of nutrients added to the soil or bugs that are repelled  or attracted.  whatever the relationship they create biodiversity ... which is more productive and makes yummier food! (FYI ... there are also bad companions, which will harm your plants and reduce productivity .... so best get educated!)

strawberries are great mates with aparagus (beans too, for that matter!).  and our family loves strawberries so it was a match made in heaven.  the asparagus have been surrounded by strawberries.  They will spread and create a natural ground cover that will protect the asparagus from weeds and also provide tasty fruit.

great mate!

but for now ... we wait.  the plants have been bedded in to ride out the rest of our winter ... with the promise that come spring ... we will have a  bounty of lovely young green spears and beautiful red fruit for our table.

all bedded in for a winters nap!

i encourage you to to plant some asparagus ... as with all fresh veg, once you've given it a go, you won't turn back!

for more on companion planting, check out these resources.


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