But at present fresh Asparagus from the garden is still a distant dream. Nonetheless I am already doing what I can to ensure the best possible harvest.
The Asparagus bed is looking a bit forlorn at present, with the stubble from last year's fern sticking up here and there amongst the fallen red berries of the overhanging Cockspur Thorn tree, and little clumps of moss beginning to form. Time for some maintenance!
Asparagus plants increase in size by sending out subterranean roots, from the nodes of which arise the "spears" or new young shoots of the plant - the bits we eat, in other words. Of course, the roots don't spread out uniformly from the central crown, and the plants in my bed look as if they have shuffled around! I know that two of my original 10 plants died, and I replaced them during 2013 with two bought from a Garden Centre. Mistake! As soon as I unpacked them I saw that the two new ones were very poor specimens that had been kept out of the ground for far too long. One died soon after planting, and the other has so far only just managed to survive. Last year it put up two very spindly shoots. For this reason there is still a significant gap in the bed (middle part, left).
I don't know what to do about this. Maybe I'll buy another small batch of crowns and try again to fill the gap, but Sod's Law says that in so doing I would be bound to damage some of the existing mature crowns. I'll think further on this matter.
In the meantime, this is what I have done:
1. Manually removed all the bigger clumps of moss and weeds
2. Sprinkled a good few handfuls of pelleted "Growmore" general-purpose fertiliser on to the soil surface.
3. Cultivated (broken up) the surface of the soil, to incorporate the fertiliser, and watered it in.
I am currently toying with the idea of replacing the timber of ALL my raised beds, so I am putting off spreading compost on the Asparagus bed until such time as the replacement takes place or gets cancelled. It is however my intention to put a good layer of home-made compost on the Asparagus "soon"....
My Asparagus did pretty well last year, and I think one of the reasons for this was that I was more generous with water than I usually am. My soil is very sandy and doesn't retain water very well, so constant attention to irrigation is necessary. If we get a dry Spring this year, I will certainly be out there with the hosepipe keeping the Asparagus hydrated.