At last, our blissful autumn bid us adieu this past week. Then, up from the valley our middle-aged asparagus patch called my name.
When I planted twenty-four crowns twelve Marches ago, at the end of growing season, I let some spears develop ferns to turn brown and dormant into late fall. This maximizes the following year’s harvest.
Observing this advice has provided us with more asparagus than we can consume and our freezer chest can hold. Come May and June, I delight in carrying heavy bags of green and purple asparagus to our neighbors and friends.
“I didn’t know there was a purple variety of asparagus!” they say. It took a few growing seasons to learn not to over-harvest asparagus spears for consumption. In self-defense, several spears shot up overnight, too woody to chew. I’m witness. A spear can grow one inch per hour in ideal soil and weather conditions.
By summer’s end, my fingers itched to deadhead the scraggly ferns, interrupt the natural reproduction cycle within the crown. You see, I like tidy gardens. And yellow and brown asparagus ferns fallen willy-nilly on the earth are not pretty. Yet, a pile of deadheaded stems makes a mesmerizing fire.
A garden will teach us the life cycle of our food if we’ll stop, look, and listen.
Therefore, I enjoy deadheading and weeding the asparagus patch, as I do all my gardens. And with utmost gratitude for my health and the earth’s bounty.
However, as agreeable weather rushed to its end, my calendar last week didn’t permit time to deadhead and weed the asparagus. It was one or the other.
So a plan hatched. “Will you deadhead the asparagus patch today?” I asked Mel last Tuesday morning. “I’ll weed.”
He knew I offered him the less strenuous of the two. “Yes.”
The following day, I loaded my heavy-duty spade, fork, and two duct-taped garbage cans onto my golf cart. I drove uphill to the forlorn site – overgrown with quack grass and all manner of perennial weeds since the final harvest the end of June.
I’d never submitted any garden to such neglect, and owed those underground roots an explanation. With shovel in hand, dressed in hat, jacket, gloves, warm pants, socks, and chicken boots, I said, “I’ve been preoccupied with work indoors. But I promise, you’re my priority until I’ve weeded every square inch.”
I capitulated to the weedy borders and wind after an hour. Only one-fourth of the 20×20 foot plot accomplished.
Thursday afternoon my shovel, fork, and I tackled another side of the garden and two rows. Friday afternoon I uprooted weeds from the bed’s rich soil amended with our chicken manure and completed the plot.
Dear Reader, Saturday I took two quarts of asparagus soup from the freezer for creamed asparagus soup on Sunday – the first course of our Michigan daughter’s birthday dinner. She requested Chicken Fricassee for the main course.
No, we don’t eat our birds. We harvest only their eggs. Excellent for Asparagus à la Polonaise.
Contact Iris at email@example.com.