Friday, April 22, 2011

The Asparagus Bed

Why do I feel so good?

I don't believe I've ever come out of the garden feeling worse. In fact, I think I can safely say that 99% of the time, I walk out of the garden feeling much, much better. It's true that my back might ache, the bugs can be vexing, and the work can be totally exhausting. What I mean is this: if I'm feeling anxious or ungrounded, spending even just an hour in the garden can fix that pretty much immediately. (Check out this great article about Why Gardening Makes You Happy and Cures Depression.) And after a long, cold winter, being in the dirt is exactly what I need. I never realize it when it has me in it's clutches, but I get into a stone cold funk starting about February. This year it was longer and deeper because our winter was longer and colder. But now, although it's still chilly and tempestuous, warm one hour, cold the next (no one really described April better than T.S. Eliot), it's still spring, and I'm out there in the dirt. Feeling much better, thank you.

Two trenches with dirt in the middle to gradually add back as the plants grow.

Yesterday, I spent a good while starting asparagus beds. I made trenches five inches deep (digging deeper reduces yields, or so I've read) and topped with two inches of soil and compost, to be hilled up as the asparagus grow. I'm not a huge fan of asparagus, otherwise I would have planted them five years ago when  we moved in. I am, however, a huge fan of my husband, who loves asparagus. So, I finally broke down and planted 16 Purple Passion asparagus plants. Not that digging is awful, but because digging on my particular soil is awful. I have the rockiest soil imaginable. I do believe unearthed a small quarry from my garden beds. Halfway through digging the deep trenches I started chanting: I will never have to do this again, I will never have to do this again. Because I won't. The asparagus will be fruitful for upwards of 25 years. And if they die? I'm not doing it again!

The perennial garden.
Now I have a huge perennial bed: a row of vigorous rhubarb, a strawberry patch, and now, asparagus. Did you notice that this bed isn't fenced in? It helps that it's right next to the road, by a dangerous curve, so the deer stay away. But deer don't eat rhubarb or asparagus (generally, although they've been known to surprise me!), and so far the strawberries have been unmolested. There's nothing nicer than having a garden that produces for years and years, after only planting once!


  1. This is the garden of my dreams... a perennial patch of asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. You've done the hard work. And now, if the legends are true, you will reap the rewards for years to come. I am so jealous. ;)


  2. I didn't realize that asparagus would come back. I was looking at it in the store, but didn't buy any because I wasn't sure hwo it would fare here.

  3. envy knows no end. you're amazing. i don't do a garden on account of the wild life, slugs, snails, beasts of prey, like moskitos, no seeums, and then the endless bambi parade. the (very cute) bunnies. last but not least 3 ancient chickens, which always find the latest flower beds. my excuses for digging. and you're right about ts eliot. it hailed yesterday.
    how is the fig business? did any twigs take or do you need another batch?

  4. Asparagus is a favorite in our house. And while I love it, Tai's love knows no bounds. It's a struggle to deny him February California asparagus on the rare occasion that we are in a 'real' supermarket, because he turns those puppy eyes on me. (And I would *not* deny him just for the food miles, but because when we spend the $$ on it, it is invariably disappointing: woody, stringy, limp, flavorless. Blech.)

    I keep waiting for us to have a place of our own for perennial plants. Well, a place of our own that actual has a sunny spot. Someday...

  5. Julia- Nice job! It is so fun when start poking their little heads up.
    Kaela- like Tai, the asparagus love in our family knows no bounds. We tend to eat most of it while puttering around the garden and it never makes it in the house. It is their 3rd year though so we should be able to get a lot more. But, next year? I plant a lot more. It is the one veggie that I don't care how far it has come -- if it looks good, I'm in.
    Somehow I need to find a surplus to pickle. Because Ms Babylady will eat a ridiculous amount in one sitting. 19 spears is her record.

  6. Went to visit someone yesterday who recently moved into area and nearly took them a bought bundle of local asparagus. Turns out their grand house, on a big estate, has a posh but overgrown walled garden that includes an established asparagus bed. Cut my first spears ever and it made me excited with anticipation for my own crops in the years ahead. One day Julia your work will repay you.

  7. So nice I am putting time into the potatoes...but I did sink some peppers and beans today....And made some Strawberry rhubarb jam today and tweated one batch with dried jalapenos to pour over cream cheese...You yard looks like mine where there is dirt dig...I may go for the asparagus you inspire me....yet again

  8. Angela - I hope so! Thanks for visiting!

    Lisa - I think your area would be fine for asparagus, and yes it does grow back year after year.

    Michael - I can't believe it hailed the other day for you! Some spring, indeed. I understand about the no-garden thing, especially when you live in a city that has access to great food.

    The figs are doing great! Two of them took root, and they are in pots of their own now. I have been meaning to write about them, as I received another fig trees last fall that is quite mature. The day I get my first fig will be heraldic!

    Kaela - Someday your asparagus bed will come in! (There's a joke in there somewhere but I'm not fast enough to find it.)

    Have you heard of what's going on with Peruvian asparagus?? Crazy:

    Meg - I cannot believe Babylady has eaten 19 spears!! She's amazing. If I ever get to pickle some, I will send it to you, because it doesn't sound like you'll be having excess any time soon!!

    Gloria - That walled in garden just sounds dreamy to me; I love the idea of an old garden revitalized. Maybe one day some nice person will benefit from my hard work. After I benefit from it, of course!

    Lani - Next week I'll be putting in potatoes! And that jam sounds so delicious. I'm inspired back!

  9. Lovely! Was just talking to my husband about how we need to buy some land, build a house and plant some asparagus - time's a wastin!

    Hope you're well.

  10. Thanks, Eve! I know. Things take so long, don't they? And time just flies by at the same time, too.

  11. Well--it's over now! I guess you (or your husband, rather) have to wait two years to enjoy it, but--it's done. I am really jealous of you for having a whole plot you can just dedicate to asparagus. We may be able to build a second raised bed someday, but that would probably max us out. I hope you know that you can have some nice chocolate or such to reward yourself. ;-)

    And I love the refernce to Eliot--I once had thought it was February that was the cruelest month, but that must just be my personal breaking point with winter.