Monday, 20 April 2009

Planting asparagus

Planting asparagus crowns is a very serious business. Unlike any other vegetable crop, asparagus is perennial and will be in the ground for more than 10 years. If the asparagus is going to do well and crop for all those years the ground needs to be prepared well. Asparagus loves free draining, sandy soil and we, like so many, have heavy clay soil. This makes soil preparation all the more important. Steve prepared the ground 12 years ago when he planted our first lot of asparagus and it did well.

Steve and I have very different approaches to everything we do in life. I like to get on with things and to feel as if I'm making progress. Steve, in contrast, is the sort of person who measures 3 or 4 times before starting anything, will never cut a corner and is unlikely to be happy at the end of any job because perfection is impossible to attain. He, therefore, is definitely the man you want when it comes to any DIY or gardening project that you want to stand the test of time. You just have to go away for a long time whilst he's getting on with it or risk becoming frustrated by lack of obvious progress.

It is for this reason that planting asparagus is unquestionably a job for Steve. The only problem being that the asparagus crowns arrived in the post on Friday and clearly stated plant IMMEDIATELY! Immediately is not in Steve's nature.

Over the course of the weekend, whilst planting potatoes, Steve started the preparation of the new asparagus bed, first rotavating it then digging out trenches. By the end of Sunday we had 3 trenches, heavily scattered with powdered rock samples (left over from Steve's years as a geologist). My only contribution to the planting was to go out today and buy a bag of sharp sand and some decent quality multipurpose compost. Then after work today Steve used the whole bag of sand, plus some gravel and a fair bit of the multipurpose compost to turn heavy clay into free draining, asparagus suitable soil.

He planted the crowns on top of mounds within free draining trenches, as is recommended in most books on the matter. Let's just hope the asparagus survived their temporary wait wrapped in damp kitchen towel and are now enjoying their lovely prepared bed.

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