Several years ago I made the mistake of letting Candy into the vegetable garden in the fall. The chickens were scratching around in there, clearing the soil of grubs and cutworms, so I thought that the rabbit would like a hop-around. But, instead of playing, she was just as industrious as the chickens – which was good for her but disastrous for my garden. Candy dug a tunnel under the asparagus, about six inches down and all the way across the six-foot bed. She ate every root.
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that takes years to mature and establish. A gardener who grows asparagus takes the long and optimistic view. I admit that after Candy decimated my asparagus bed that I didn’t plant another. Asparagus requires room and it doesn’t like competition. It requires a dedicated spot in the garden. Once Candy ate up the asparagus I decided I’d have a more productive garden growing other vegetables in that raised bed.
But, I’ve been missing homegrown asparagus, and a few weeks ago it dawned on me that I have the perfect place to grow asparagus, a sunny patch of lawn behind the big barn. I had some raised bed corners leftover from the veg garden construction. Steve bought some lumber and built a 6 X 6 bed. Today I layered it with newspaper to kill the grass.
And then I began filling it.
The compost area in the HenCam chicken run has been due to be emptied. An asparagus garden was the perfect use for this:
Ever since last summer this corner of the run has had garden waste, shavings and manure from barn cleanings, and kitchen scraps tossed in. The chickens do all the work of shredding and turning the material. The wire keeps them from kicking it all into the main part of the run.
It’s gorgeous stuff.
I loaded nine wheelbarrows with the compost and dumped it into the new bed. That was hard work! I’ve got another half-dozen loads before the bed is full, but that will have to wait for another day. Take a look at what it looks like now.
I’ve made a dent in the compost pile, but there’s plenty more.
Asparagus is planted in the spring, but this bed won’t sit idle until next year. I think it’ll be perfect for summer squash. For once the zucchini won’t take over my vegetable garden! I think I’ll have quite the crop. I know how good the compost that my chickens make is. Last year I used some of it in my flower bed. I’ve never used fertilizers there. I don’t have to. Here’s proof.
I love asparagus also…always thought it needed to be in a “trench” though… reading this is encouraging!
When I plant it I’ll use the trench method. (Make a trench, plant roots, fill in with soil gradually over a few weeks.) But, you can certainly do a trench in a raised bed.
Did you pile the compost straight on top of the newspaper? I always thought you had to lay the newspaper, wait months for the grass to die, take it away, then add your compost. Then again I’ve never done any real gardening, so what do I know…
If you plan on using the soil directly under the paper, then yes, you have to wait a long time for all to die, then dig and double dig to loosen the dirt. But, I’m piling a foot of compost on top of that paper, so I can get right to planting.
Snap – I’m digging out a compost bin to make a bed to plant squash too!
Quite a work out! You deserve a rest tonight – put your feet up and enjoy the company of your dogs :-)
BTW – things are starting to happen at http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23PPPHatch
you are an inspiration, and I am jealous of your volume of compost but not of your winters!
I started asparagus from seed in March, and they are charming little miniatures in pots, waiting for me to do what you did. however,even with yard clippings and two busy hens turning my pile,I will have to buy compost – there is no hay in my life. my cow eats grass all year and the rain and mongoose spread the cow poop out back onto the pastures before I ever get to it.
By the way, the ecoglow brooder worked great for 4 chicks. At three weeks old, most are now sleeping on (or under) their little perch. one remains smaller and still uses it.
Mongoose spread manure? How and why?
I suspect they are looking for insects. That’s my guess.
they eat the bugs. you see them rooting
around with evident relish. there only used to be mongoose down along the coast but they arrived in my area about ten years ago. they are great little spreaders and my pasture is so hilly that I would never do it myself – I just move the cow to a new section and let it all grow back.
To a long and optimistic view of things, the asparagus farmer also has a strong back and industrious nature, too. Thanks for your account of this process. It makes me even more appreciative of the farmers who grow this wonderful food for us.
I so desperately want an asparagus bed, but figure I won’t be in this house long enough to reap the rewards. I should just do it anyway…the next home owner would have a nifty little surprise :)
It’s sort of like planting slow-growing native trees or a fruit orchard. Do it where and when you can and you hope that the next place you move to, someone ahead of you will have done the same. Anyway, look into the new varieties of asparagus. The Jersey Knight can be harvested the second year!
The Jersey Knight, how comically noble. I’m so excited; thanks!!
I turned my old chicken run into a garden, I did let it “sit” for a year. The tomato and pepper plants were gorgous only one problem, there wasn’t much fruit. I suspect it was too rich in nitrogen, your thoughts?
The old chicken run now grows herbs.
Certainly could be an imbalance. My chicken compost has their high nitrogen poo in it, but 3/4 is other stuff. I make sure to add leaves in the fall and lots of green stuff from the garden. But I’m just guessing – I’ve never even tested my soil’s pH. I just cross my fingers and hope it’s right!
I do a lot of that crossing the fingers too when it comes to plantings. ;-)
I do have a great abundance of herbs, way more than I can use. The great thing is I don’t have to weed, the herbs are so thick nothing else can grow.
You are so much more industrious than I. I have no excuse:-/
I don’t write about my slacker days :)
I love your raised bed adventure. May I inquire as to where you purchased the raised bed corners from? It looks like you can pound a stake through them is this so?
I got them from Gardener’s Supply
which also has the best tomato cages.