So, my plan was to blog about planting carrots, beets and turnips, but I have been asked about my asparagus garden, so changed plans. 🙂
Well, I know some of you are itching to get going on your gardens… but before I get moving on my chat about asparagus, please be sure that you are clear of frost before you plant! Typically, rule of thumb in this area (North Shore of Lake Superior) is to wait until after the full moon in June….
Ok.. back to asparagus!
Making a bed… I will give you the basic way which will allow your asparagus to last anywhere from 8-12 years, and then the more robust (back breaking, lots of work, total crazy gardener way) that will last you 30-40 years. Guess which one I did??? …… yup! The big bad boy 40 year garden. And, man… did it pay off!!!
First you need crowns or seeds. Seeds take 3-4 years before you can eat it. If you wait until the 4th year, your asparagus does do better in the long run. Crowns are 2 year old plants, so you will be eating in 2 years. The link below (click the box) will offer Ontario grown crowns and some seed supply. It’s a good idea to try and find crowns and seeds from an area near you as that variety will be better climatized to your environment.
You could also try here:
So the easy way….
In an area that gets plenty of sun and well drained soil, dig a 1 foot trench. Fill the trench with composted manure/soil (50/50) and if you have read my blogs before, you may have already guessed to also include bone meal, blood meal and epsom salts. Make little 3D triangles (prism) shapes out of the stuff added in the trench and lay individual crowns on top of it like a hat. make sure all your crowns are on their own mound of goodness then fill the rest of the trench up with more good ness (manure, soil, bone and blood meal and epsom salts). Water it well, and watch it grow. Enjoy your eats in 1-2 years.
If you are putting in seedlings/transplants, then just transplant them like any other transplant. Cooler days are preferred, dig a hole deep enough for the entire block of dirt, lightly loosen any bound up roots, place in the hole, and burry until the dirt from the container is also slightly under a layer of new soil.
If you are throwing in seeds, I literally just throw them in the rows and shake the dirt around them lightly, water and walk away.
The hard to very-long term way….
Dig out (excavate) the dirt where your bed will go about 3-4 feet deep. (I went 4.5, but I tend to overdo everything!!). OH!! And I dug this whole out in the spring as the frost was coming out when I was about 5 months pregnant. Yes… I’m a little crazy!!!
Layer your manure, rich soil, bone meal, blood meal and Epsom salts in. I did about 4 inches manure, followed by 4 inches of soil, then a salt and pepper layer of the bone/blood/epsom salt mix, and kept repeating that until the hole was full. Then I dug the trenches, made the prisms, and added my crowns in half the garden, and transplanted my seedlings in the other half.
Transplants and seeds are the same as above… 🙂
WHY all the extra work ???
Well, the many years number 1, but also, did you know that asparagus roots can grow up to 9 feet deep? The deeper they go, the thicker and healthier they are coming out. We have the most monster sized asparagus popping up. Some of them are easily the size of a loonie in diameter. Also, the asparagus is so sweet and tender that you can eat it raw out of the garden! It is like candy! I can’t keep my 4 year old son OUT of it! Thank-fully I have lots.
I should warn you….. a very rich bed such as my own also grows fantastic weeds! You will be weeding every second day!
Ok, so if you watch the video, you will see the “how” better. Essentially, you pick the ones that are as thick as your index finger or thicker and pick them before they start to loosen and fern at the top. This can happen in just a day or two, so check daily. I like to leave mine alone when my other veggies are ready and let the plant do what it needs to do, fern out, and grow deeper roots. I leave it alone until fall. If your plant only have a few shoots, it’s also a good idea to leave a shoot or two from each plant. I know it’s tempting to eat them all, but it’s better for the plant if you leave some of it alone.
Protecting your asparagus garden:
If you watch the video, you will see that I have my garden lines on the edge with old mill-felt. This holds grass, weeds and in our case raspberries back from growing in. If you do line your bed, make sure it is with something that is permanent as you don’t want to disturb your garden. I also have a 3 foot fence around it to keep deer, rabbit, cats, dogs and chickens out. Deer and rabbit know how awesome it is, dogs and chickens like to dig in the dirt, and cats love new places to use for their toileting needs.
Prepping your garden for winter:
Cut down all of your dried ferns (that is what the asparagus will turn into). Lay them down if you want as mulch and to keep seeds in the garden for more plants later. Put a layer of composted manure on the asparagus bed (about 2-3 inches thick), and then cover with a thick layer of dried leaves or straw.
Send me an email if you want seeds this fall. I’ll work something out fair if there is interest. I wont know how much I have until October, but I usually have a few hundred seeds. I have Jersey Giants that seed every year. I’m hoping that my millenniums seed soon, but they are my youngest crop, so no seeds yet.
P.s. If you have questions, or interested in seeds please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org