Lament for my asparagus….

Lament for my asparagus

Well it is almost the end of May and my asparagus is still not really producing. I had hoped with a good rain which we had earlier this week, that perhaps this was the boost that the crowns needed. Alas it was not meant to be.

There are a number of reasons I believe as to why my asparagus is in such poor condition.

I should not have gone away volunteering overseas, expecting someone else to take care of the asparagus, even if it was stipulated in a contract of caretaking of our farm. I should have been around so that I could have taken care of the asparagus, keeping the weeding in check and manageable, fertilizing (using approved organic methods) at the end of the season’s harvest. Our caretaker did none of this.

In the weeding that did take place by myself and a helper when I returned from Lima end of October 2017, it would be reasonable to expect some damage to the roots systems, some of which is near the surface, because of the pervasiveness of the weeds. The weeds: the old asparagus bed had thistle and golden rod that was easily 4 feet tall and the new bed had a thick blanket of creeping buttercup. The weeding required was so extensive, the weeds just choking the crowns, that clearly some plants could not out compete the weeds. I actually found some golden rod weeds right in the top of the crown and alas it is impossible to extricate the weed root ball from the crown without damaging the top of the crown.

As well, as is the case with asparagus, crowns at times push themselves upwards and so the top of the crown can be exposed. Adding more soil with compost is required on an annual basis, building up the soil around the plant. This of course did not occur last year.

I also know there are nutrient deficiencies because the spears I am getting are skinny; there was no fertilizer applied which would have been so easy & simply with my huge stash of crab meal.

And so it begins, my remediation efforts. Unfortunately I won’t be able to determine if my efforts this year will help until next year. This is a long time to wait. In the meantime I am contemplating planting a nursery bed of asparagus as I still have plenty of seeds I saved from several years ago. I know the germination rate won’t be great but I have so many seeds that getting some to germinate should be possible.

And to think this was to have been my 1st year of a full harvest from both beds, 700 plants. I should have been able to get at least one pound per plant, and at $5/lb I thought I would make $3500. Well at least I know now what it feels like for all those farmers you read about who have a crop loss for whatever reason, a crop that the farmer family depends on for their livelihood. I didn’t appreciate how devastating this could be.

I know I need to keep perspective. I mean at least I am not living in a war zone as so many are in today’s world. I also have a good roof over my head, I have retirement savings we can live on for the time being. I have an amazing partner in life, without which I would not be able to cope with all this unexpected situation. I still have some grieving to do, but hey shit happens and that is life.

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