Monday, May 11, 2015

Asparagus failure

One of three asparagus plants that survived winter.
I think it's important to write about both successes and failures. Well, what are failures if they're not learning experiences? So we'll call it a set back :-)

Last summer Jay and I were very busy in our backyard, and built some raised beds well after the chicken coop was complete, sometime in July.  While I had purchased 20 crowns of asparagus early in the spring, I didn't get around to putting them in the ground until mid-summer. All but a few came up and I diligently packed dirt around the new shoots as they grew out of the soil. I covered the whole thing with hay mulch in autumn and this spring, I waited eagerly for the asparagus to return.

Unfortunately, only three plants returned. I suspect it's because I planted them so darn late in the season, they didn't have enough time to build roots to survive the winter. As I was digging news holes for this year's plants, I uncovered one of the old crowns. Most of it was dead, but you can see below three white roots that seemed to be alive. I wonder had I not dug it up if this would have survived. I found a few other crows too, but they were entirely wilted and starting to rot.
One of last years crowns showing a little bit of life.

Newly dug trench for this year's crowns.

So this year I dug the trenches a little deeper, put a little more compost in the holes, and planted them in May. I'm looking forward to a vibrant asparagus crop for years to come.

A happy new crown, planted deeply, and at the right time of the year!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hoeing, by John Updike

by John Updike, from Telephone Poles and Other Poems (Alfred A. Knopf).

I sometimes fear the younger generation will be deprived
   of the pleasures of hoeing;
   there is no knowing
how many souls have been formed by this simple exercise.

The dry earth like a great scab breaks, revealing
   moist-dark loam—
   the pea-root's home,
a fertile wound perpetually healing.

How neatly the green weeds go under!
   The blade chops the earth new.
   Ignorant the wise boy who
has never rendered thus the world fecunder.