December 28, 2007

There is a reason why no gardening book out there contains a paragraph entitled “Tips for Transplanting a Mature Asparagus Bed”. There aren’t any.

Five years ago, a combination of inexperience and simply not thinking led me to plant a row of asparagus crowns six feet away from a row of blackberries. After the second year, it was pretty clear that this had been a Really Bad Idea. But what to do? Moving a mess like that is a ton of work. Better to ignore it, maybe it will go away…By the third year, the thinking was, “We really should move it, but there just isn’t time”. Fourth year went something like, “We could harvest it if we could still see it”. And this year came down to *sigh* “Just Do It”.

Part of what helped is that we now have a row crop garden to which to move the crowns, something that didn’t really exist at this time last year. Still, it was a huge job. I didn’t want to dig the crowns up manually. If you’ve never seen what asparagus does, imagine that one year, you plant a daddy-long-legs spider with extra legs. Then the legs grow deep into the earth, and make more and more legs, and they go deep as well. Years later, the thing looks like an alien in a budget movie, the roots are 2 feet and longer, and it is this mass that lets a crown produce harvestable asparagus. If you use a shovel, you set yourself back 2-3 years….

So, we borrowed back our old tractor, and four feet at a time, excavated the crowns with the front loader, drove to the new bed, and as best as was possible set the crowns down. This was a tough job even for the tractor, it was hard to dig deep enough to lift the entire crown out. I’m pretty sure I accidentally destroyed the first three crowns I tried to do, and then someone who has a few decades more experience in the driver’s seat figured out how to do it right. Anyway, the transplant is complete, 2 hours ahead of the first rain drops. The only loss is that instead of being a pretty, even bed, it sort of undulates like a bad Chinese dragon…well, maybe the dirt will settle…..

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