Happy St George's Day and hello to the asparagus season
By Angie, Apr 23 2013 08:08PM
Happy St George's Day!
The British asparagus season starts today - so what better day to prepare and plant up my asparagus bed!
Until I took over my additional 5 rods, I didn't have the luxury of space for asparagus, so on taking over the additional plot, I have been planning where to place the bed.
Asparagus requires a lot of space and careful soil preparation as the crops are likely to be in place for as long as 20 years!
We started by creating a raised bed in a sunny spot on the plot. Asparagus don't like wet, claggy soils as they have a tendency to rot, so I added plenty of HM compost, manure and sandy top soil into the bed to raise the level. I also removed any stones and weeds I found, as this is another thing on their hate list.
I soaked my year old asparagus crowns in a bucket of water for a couple of days before planting. I planted two varieties, a green variety called Gijnlim and a white French variety I purchased whilst on holiday in France at Easter.
I dug a trench for each row, approximately 30 cm wide and 20cm high and then added some premixed compost/sand into the centre of the trench, to build a raised mound of about 10cm. I then laid the asparagus crowns on top of the mound, spreading the roots out either side of the mound.
I covered the soil with the original soil, with some added manure, being careful not to damage the new shoots coming out of the crowns. I then created the second and subsequent rows 30cm away from the original. I then watered the bed well.
I intend to cover the crowns with an additional layer of home-made compost of about 15cm within the next couple of weeks, when I empty my compost heap. I also have some fleece available which I will put on top of the bed should a frost be forecast, as the crowns are vulnerable at this stage to frost. I will also need to ensure they are not allowed to dry out.
Sadly, I won't be able to harvest the asparagus in the first year, but instead will need to allow the spears to mature into ferny foliage which will be cut down when it goes brown in autumn. Whilst a light harvest is permitted in year two, the majority will need to be left yet again with year three being the year for the first proper harvest. This process allows the asparagus crowns to develop into (hopefully) hearty specimens which will produce lovely spears in future years.
I love asparagus simply char-grilled and served with either melted butter, or topped with a soft boiled egg. However, I also love to include it in quiches too.