Thursday, July 24, 2014

Top Three Signs didn't pick enough asparagus.

Probably the thing that most often confuses visitors in my garden is the asparagus. It is an unusual crop, in that we eat the shoot, rather than the fruit, or leaves, or tuber/bulb.  Many people have never even seen an asparagus plant with leaves on it. One recent visitor, after asking what kind of plant it was and being answered, looked at the outrageous tangle of ferny branches skeptically and asked, "Where do they come out?"

Asparagus is a perennial that lives for about 30 years.  Starting in the third or fourth year after planting, the gardener waits for the first spears to pop out of the ground in spring, and cuts them off as soon as they are about six inches tall.  After several weeks of cutting, you stop and let the plants grow, forming a bushy, fern-like plant. (It's really kind of pretty in gardens other than mine.). The plant rests the remainder of the season, storing energy for next spring.

So, what about those three signs?
1. Your asparagus is huge.  Way bigger than the lovely patches you see in adjacent gardens.  Taller than your husband and so tangled and widely branched that you have to remove your hat and put a scarf over your hair and teach your child to dial 9-1-1 before you can weed under it.
2. Halfway through cutting and removing the crazy mass of tangled branches, you discover a bird's nest.  Sorry little birdy.
3.  After dragging the branches, backwards and cursing, down the path and out of the garden, you go back to clear out the weeds underneath it and a giant toad hops right across your foot, running for his life as you destroy what used to be his nice shady home.  Sorry little toad.

If these three signs occur in your garden, you can be 100% certain - you should have picked more asparagus last spring.

I'm hoping my little exercise this week will take some vigor out of the plants and make them a little more reasonable.  I'm also hoping that little birdie will find her nest.

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