Our 2021 garden: unplanned garden bed

My daughters and I have spent quite a bit of time, working out where to plant what, so we know where to build beds to plant in. Then I realized we completely forgot about the purple asparagus crowns that will be shipped later, to arrive at time of planting in our zone 3 region.

We’d talked about them before, but hadn’t made any decisions. Where my mother had asparagus was ruled out. She’d planted trees and bushes in that garden, so that area no longer gets enough hours of sun in a day. Asparagus will produce for up to 20 years, so we couldn’t include them in most of the areas we will be planting in this year.

After talking about it, we settled on a spot where we had not originally planned to have any garden beds at all this year.

This is the spot we settled on, after I’d raked it out.

Part way down is where there used to be one of my mother’s tire planters that I’d taken out. I’d dumped the soil out to remove it, and found it was on top of the remains of an old maple.

I know it was an old maple, because it immediately began sending up suckers.

I had covered it with the soil inside the planter as much as I could. The flowers that were in that planter have been showing up, which was nice to see at least. πŸ™‚ Much of this area is difficult to maintain, though. So now we will be planting two things here. At the far end, on the other side of the remains of maple, is where we will be planting the Strawberry Spinach. In reviews on the Baker Creek website, where I bought the seeds, it was mentioned that these self seed easily, and it was recommended to plant them in a permanent location because of this. That was kept in mind when we chose this location.

In the foreground is where the asparagus will go. For that, we will need to dig a trench long enough for the 6 crowns we will be getting.

Digging a trench here is going to be a challenge.

So today, I set up the soaker hose directly on the ground to start. Saturating the soil will make it easier to dig the trench.

While that was soaking, I prepped as many cardboard boxes as I could find, removing any tape or stickers on them.

My daughters helped me to lay the cardboard under the soaker hose, and we left it running for a while as we checked other areas. The rain barrel was full, so we used it to fill our watering cans and wet down the cardboard more, and finally just left the soaker hose going for about an hour. The above photo is what it looked like when I turned off the water.

(We are now out of cardboard. :-/ We do still have some moving boxes left, but they’re in really good shape, so we’re saving them for something else.)

We were planning to put straw over the cardboard, too, but it was way too windy today. We have several weeks before the asparagus crowns will arrive, so covering the area now will help kill off the grass, as well as make it easier to dig a trench, later. We’ll just have to keep soaking it. Where the Strawberry Spinach will be planted can have mulch and soil added to it at any time.

I’ve been looking at instructions for planting asparagus, and some places say to dig a trench 15 inches/38cm.

That’s not going to happen!

Those articles, however, also say to fill the bottom third of the trench with compost. We don’t have compost left.

Other articles say to soak the crowns in compost tea for 30 minutes before planting.

Since we don’t have compost to make compost tea with, that’s not happening, either. Our new garden soil, however, has plenty of compost in it.

I’m reading that the crowns should be planted 1 1/2 – 2 ft/46-61cm apart. We will be getting 6 crowns. That space isn’t long enough to plant them in one long row, but it’s wide enough to plant them in 2 rows, so we’ll need to made a double wide trench – about 24-30 in/61-76cm wide. A depth of 8 inches/20cm should be good, but we will be building the area up, so we won’t need to go quite that deep. I don’t know if we even could go any deeper, with the trees being so close. I expect to find a lot of roots under there. By the time we’re done, this area should be about 4-6 inches/10-15cm higher than it is now, so all we really need to do is get rid of the top layer of grass roots.

Hopefully, we will be able to remove more of that tree stump and cover the remains over, in the process.

Once it’s done, we should be able to leave things here and just keep them maintained, for the next couple of decades.

The Re-Farmer

5 thoughts on “Our 2021 garden: unplanned garden bed

  1. I put in 5 almost 50 ft. rows of asparagus in the last 4 or 5 years. Our family loves it. Asparagus are heavy feeders. I know you don’t have the depth but you could possibly add height to them by mulching them every year with manure of some type. I prefer rabit or horse, however know it is not always available to everyone. With the asparagus competing with the tree roots it may be wise to invest in a bag of manure of some kind. They used to sell it at Walmart. You could mix that into the soil you are planting them in and then add some every fall. Another option that may provide more success with your asparagus is some of the seed companies have a plant food especially formulated for them. I love your post and that you and your daughter are gardening together. Looking forward to reading more about your experiences. I am always learning something new from fellow gardeners.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your advice! I’m always thrilled to learn from the voices of experience. πŸ™‚

      The garden soil mix we bought has 3 types of manure in it, so I hope that will be adequate. We definitely will be using mulch and building up; with the amount of rocks and roots we have to contend with, we’ll be doing that pretty much everywhere we want to grow. I’ve read the first 2 years need the most care as the root systems develop, so I’m glad to hear there is plant food specifically for asparagus available.


  2. Sounds like you are getting an awesome soil mix. My last row is some that came up from seed last year. I was surprised this year that it is big enough to pick. It usually takes a couple years to get it that size. We got some rabbit manure last year and I am amazed at how well things I fertilized with that are doing. Happy gardening. Always glad to answer questions if I know the answers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Our 2021 garden: quick finish on the unplanned bed | The Re-Farmer

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