Yesterday’s roundup of my vegetable blues failed to include the asparagus bed – not because it’s all ticking along nicely, but because it had got so weed-ridden the one photo I took of it didn’t really look like an asparagus bed at all.

weed-ridden asparagus bed

This may go part of the way to explaining why it’s not doing so well, although to be fair the not going well part preceded the weed-ridden part. The fact is, only one or two of the crowns I’ve planted have produced even one decent looking shoot. The rest have tended to shrivel away as soon as they’ve emerged, although more are still coming up in places.

small asparagus shoot

I’m not sure what the problem is (I can’t blame the pheasants this time). I did think it might be the dry weather we have had (regular readers of the blog may be surprised to read this but we have actually had some longish spells of no rain). It’s all a bit unsatisfactory given I spent actual money on these plants from an actual garden centre rather than sourcing them in my usual fashion, a mixture of scrounging, growing from seed* and village plant sales.

cow watching

“I wouldn’t do it like that, if I were you”

Anyway, under the watchful eyes of Moo-I-5 I have now given them a good soaking – and the weather gods are busy rectifying the ‘too little rain’ part as I speak – and mulched the survivors with a good layer of compost, which felt like the sort of thing a proper gardener might do. Hopefully that will do the trick but either way it looks as if my hopes for an abundant asparagus bounty will have to wait a few more years. I’m beginning to understand why the main reaction to my asparagus-growing plans has been shaken heads, cynical laughter, and reminiscences about sitting down to an asparagus spear each after four years of anxious care.

mulched asparagus bed

Any tips from the more successful? Other than ‘move out of Scotland’, of course …

* I did actually, many moons ago, grow some asparagus from seed in our first ever vegetable garden. By the time we sold the house, several years later, the tiny little fronds were just about visible to the naked eye, but only if you looked very closely.

5 Responses to Uncrowned

  1. Charles says:

    I think asparagus is awkward. Even the Lord of Cord, Monty Don nearly dug his bed up but after I think 4 years it sort of came good. Given his supply of garden elves we mortals are playing with fire if we plant it. The odd thing is that I have now progressed to the elegant wispy stage, 3 years, nothing seems to eat it. I don’t, the birds don’t and the slugs and snails avoid it. I hear that there is an asparagus weevil but it turns up be appointment via chauffeured Rolls Royce only if you succeed in growing a decent spear.

    I found a cheapest way of finding crowns was to go round the most down at heal garden centres when it was too late to plant it. Some of them plant their sparecrowns up in pots but because they do not look as elegant as lovely new crowns they are cheaper….just plant them as normal and they will survive. Sort of…..

  2. alysontyler says:

    My dad, nr Inverness, grows it in one of his polytunnels (yes, he has more than one). It does very well.

  3. disgruntled says:

    I will persist then! I may need to fill in some of the gaps with replacement crowns using Charles’ bargain hunting technique

  4. We have 2 different asparagus crowns that suffered with asparagus beetle on our lotty. Since moving them from there to new home, they’ve been mistreated and abused, drowned, neglected, drowned again, replanted twice; so we’re amazed they’ve survived! We left them alone last year and have had a few sprigs this year, no beetle. They’re in a raised bed which I think helps with drainage, 3/4 compost / 1/4 well-rotted manure. A few sprigs still coming up but we’re leaving them be now and hopefully a stronger crop next year.

  5. disgruntled says:

    Maybe I’m being too nice to them …

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