Busted My Tail for this Asparagus!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Thursday, June 2, 2016 7:18 PM

No, I'm serious.  I literally busted my tail.  Well, bruised is more accurate.  I have a bruised tailbone from sitting on a milk crate for too long sorting this crap.  It hurts like a son of a bitch and 800 mg of ibuprofen just ain't doing diddly squat.  Ouch!  Mommy....

On Memorial Day I went to a yard sale up in the Eastmont Hills.  The folks had a propane instant water heater that I have been planning on buying once my biogas digester arrives.  It was half price and in working order so I couldn't pass it up.  

Well, as always happens, we got to talking.  He had several raised beds and I'm a sucker when it comes to chatting about veggie gardening.  I come to find out they are clearing out because they are moving and selling the house.   The realtor said they needed to hire a landscaper to fix up their yard.  They also said the front beds either had to be ripped out or turned into flower beds.  And what to my wandering eyes should appear?  An established bed of asparagus.  Well, it was also an established bed of crabgrass but that's neither here nor there.  Big beautiful asparagus fronds were just calling my name.  They said I was welcome to it if I wanted to dig it out.

And dig I did... FOR SIX HOURS in the blazing hot sun on my hands and knees.  Okay, so I had gone home to grab a few tools, but the fact of the matter is that this bed was so entwined in crabgrass that it was literally impossible to put a spade into.  Water was my friend, along with my pitchfork to try and loosen the dry ground enough for the water to seep down into.  But I mostly had to dig by hand as everything was so entwined.  It was a long, slow, tedious process.  But after a couple of hours I had it.  My first hunk of asparagus roots... and soil... and crabgrass...  When I finally I brought it all home, I dumped it in my empty green bin, covered it with rice straw, and gave it a good watering.  Can't let those precious crowns dry out now can we.  Especially after what I had to go through to get them out.

And so the fun began.  For the past three days I have been outdoors after the worst of the heat, sitting in the shade dealing with clumps like this.  Dang it, I just know there are crowns in there somewhere!

Each clump got a good bath.  Well it FELT like I was giving the crowns a bath, what with all the rubbing and scrubbing trying to separate them from the crabgrass and all.

The sorting was extremely tedious and time consuming work.  But I attacked each clump with new enthusiasm.  Okay... more like dread.  But attack attack attack!

Slowly I was able to tease out the crowns.  I was very careful to remove every last itsy bitsy tiny bit of crabgrass root I could identify.  Luckily it's very thick and rigid whereas the asparagus roots are softer and pliable.  Still, I know in the end I'll be fighting crabgrass in my asparagus bed for a year or two.  Each and every little @#$%* piece will be ripped out the second it pokes up half an inch of greenery.

After two back breaking.... er... I mean BUTT breaking days sitting on the milk crate my brain finally woke up and I brought out a camp chair today and set up a sorting table.  Yuppers!  This is how I spend MY afternoons.  You???  At the end of each evening I covered the sorted crowns in damp sawdust for safe keeping.  And then the next afternoon I moved onto another clump.  Later, rinse, repeat.  I said bath, right?  Right...

And the end result?  Well over 100 crowns!!!  If I were to purchase this many 3 year old crowns (and these are older) it would probably cost somewhere around $500, maybe more..  SCORE!!!

Now what?  Well, I'll be selling some to friends.  But the bulk of them will be going into my existing asparagus bed to fill it out.  I've decided to throw caution to the wind and take the advice of Ruth Stout on this.  I observed (for the past 4 days!) extensively how these were growing happily together, in close proximity and intertwined, and planted none too deep either.  Their previous stewart said that he was able to harvest from them for a good 6 or 8 weeks at a time.  So that means that they were quite content all snuggled up and cozy.  I plan to repeat that environment, minus the crabgrass of course.  Only time will tell, but my guess is that these larger mature crowns will produce much faster and in better quantities than my straggling three year old bed.  

Now, if only the Vicodin would kick in...

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