Hi Soil Whisperers:
My name is Jane Lair and I am a volunteer at Red Bird Mission. I am from Central Illinois, land of flat ground (without a lot of rocks) and miles and miles of corn and soybeans. You never know just what you’ll get into when you volunteer at Red Bird but I was surprised and pleased to end up volunteering with the Grow Appalachia program. Justin, GA Coordinator and Don, volunteer, are great to work with. Both are hard workers and both have a good sense of humor. And either one of them could tell you more than you want to hear about my asparagus garden.
I asked for and got permission to use a bit of ground right alongside Red Bird River at the edge of the main Red Bird campus for the purpose of establishing an asparagus patch. I pointed out that such a patch of asparagus would seasonally provide fresh, healthy food over a long period of time. Like 20 or 30 years!! So not just any old spot would do for this garden. It needed to be out of the way, not likely to be disturbed for quite some time, no imposition of the grounds keeping crew to work around and in a fairly sunny area with good drainage. The ground by the river fit all these needs.
The next step was to till up the ground. Don (I hope you’ve met him on the blog already) did most of the tilling. We tilled shallow and I raked the sod, along with grass and weeds, back off the garden. Also removed rocks, big rocks and lots of them! Since you don’t get a chance to add much once the asparagus is planted, soil amendments come next. Another GA participant had donated two buckets of semi-composted chicken manure. I was glad to get this right up until it was time to spread it out on the garden. Whewwwwww!!!!!! We tilled THAT in real deep. Actually, I think we were just covering it up! Next we added several bags of top soil and some compost. Tilled that in real well.
To finish up, we planted the asparagus, applied mulch to retain moisture and to suppress competitive plants and weeds and wait to see what we have next Spring.
Two year old crowns should result in a limited yield next Spring. Each year that the asparagus bed is more fully developed, a greater harvest may be expected. This increase will level off after about 4 years. A successfully established asparagus bed can be expected to yield for decades.
We have been so busy planting the Red Bird campus community gardens that we didn’t get around to building a big double raised bed for the asparagus. I hope we can build that later and just position it over the asparagus patch.
Gardening involves work to keep the weeds and critters at bay, but I hope you are having some fun with your gardens too. I also have a raised bed of onions, lettuce and spinach and another raised bed of strawberries. Weeding of an evening gives me a quiet time to think, to pray, to relax.
God Bless you…..and keep on digging! Jane