I've always wanted an asparagus patch. It's one of my favorite vegetables, right up there with bok choy and broccoli. I can eat it twice a week, or more if I prepare it differently each time. Steamed with Hollandaise sauce, baked wrapped in prosciutto, asparagus quiche and just plain raw. Nomnomnomnom.
The permanence of an asparagus patch always gave me pause. It lives over twenty years or more and resents transplanting once it's a few years old, so where you put it is where it'll be. If you plan wrong and it's in the way, you've got to lump it or replant and wait another two years before you can harvest. Yep. You can't pick it for a couple years. Quite the investment of time there, and makes it even more important that you pick the right spot from the get go.
I'm the kind of girl who likes to rearrange her furniture a lot (Didn't I just mention that...?), and it seems that tendency follows me out to the garden and yard. I plan out the beds, sitting out there with a beer just thinkin', taking lots of time to make sure they're just right. But they never are, so I have to fix it. Last year, I didn't like where one wide row was, so I turned it into two 4'x4' square foot beds. I shoveled three too-skinny rows into two a couple months ago. And the chicken coop is really getting on my nerves where it is, so it'll get torn down and herbs planted in it's place. Don't get me started on the sitting spot(s).
But I wanted asparagus, dammit! And it's the time of year to plant. We just got 1500 crowns in at work. I counted every one when they came in, then Joe and heeled them in in big stock tanks with sand. That took all of a day, and the entire time I was dreaming of taking a hundred of them home with me (Yeah, I want a BIG patch). I've walked by them every day for the past month, thinking I should buy some but talking myself out of it. Where would I put them? Along the fence on the east side of the garden? Nope, not wide enough. Over in that northwest corner where I planted corn last year? Nah, it'd block the view of the garden. Where the chicken coop is now? Definitely not. Not only would that be an even worse view-blocker, it'd take too much time to move that thing and break the new ground under it. That's a project for this summer.
But ... uhmmm ... what about the row at the south end where the peppers were last year? Hrm ... it's about wide enough, after I enlarged it a bit this winter. If not, I can always bust out the fence there and make it so. But won't it block the walkway in summer? Well, I can plant it as far over as I can to minimize that, and build a little bamboo fence to hold it back if it really gets bad. But it's not big enough! It's only fifteen feet long, just big enough for fifteen crowns IF I plant them reeeeeeeally close together. Well, Linda, fifteen crowns is better than none. Okay. That's it then.
I bought fifteen crowns and a bunch of compost just before the winter break at work. "How exciting! I'm really going to do this!" I bagged the compost, got it home, unloaded it and the asparagus ... and there they sat. One thing after another has happened since then to get in the way of my asparagus patch coming into being. First there was Christmas Day, then the house needed cleaning, then we got a little carried away with the Holiday Revelry with Spirits and spent the next day on the couch, then I had to set up the Seed Starting Cabinet, then ... then ...
THEN, I said, "Enough! I'm planting that asparagus THIS YEAR."
"Well, you'd better get on it. It's the thirtieth."
So that's what I did today, starting with digging a fifteen foot ditch as deep as I could get it, which was about a foot. It wasn't that hard, but I was sure glad asparagus planting time isn't in summer. I added in a mix of stuff ~ humate, 8-2-4, quite a bit of Minerals Plus since you can't really overdose that and I won't be able to dig deep in that bed for quite a while after this. The I put in liberal amounts of turkey compost, stirred it up, and started planting. It took me two or three hours overall.
And now, after years of dreaming and planning and hoping, and hours and hours of hard physical labor (oh, woe is me), da-da-DUM! I have an asparagus patch!!
Aaaaaaand, I have a mess of greens for New Year's Day. All picked today. Aren't they beautiful?
The regular cabbage still is only tiny little heads (they're so damn cute), so I hope Chinese cabbage (bok choy) qualifies as close enough for the tradition of eat cabbage on New Year's Day = LOTS of folding money throughout the year. I'll probably have a hangover-induced anxiety attack tomorrow about this and go pick some regular and eat it regardless of how tiny or how cute it is. But I have some kissin' cousins of regular cabbage, kale and collards being the most prevalent, so hopefully that and a Holiday Xanax will restrain me. And I just found out that another name for kale is boerenkool, Norwegian for "farmer's cabbage". I like that. A nod to my Norwegian ancestors. Good enough.
I think I'll make some Hoppin' John instead of plain old black-eyed peas. And cornbread. Definitely cornbread.
Yes, those are tomatoes in the basket on the left. Black Giants to be precise. That one was the clear winner of the Thirty-Plus Variety Great Tomato Grow-Off this year (heh, as if I don't do that every year), so I thought about overwintering it. I hemmed and hawed for a while since in my experience that always ends in tears. But there were fruit still on it, and I'd borked my seed-saving attempt with that one, so what did I have to lose in at least keeping it around 'til those matured? Two of those were almost orgasmically good with the ribeye I had tonight. Looks like I made the right decision.