I've been wanting to plant asparagus for a number of years, but knew it would mean a ton of digging, so I kept putting it off. But, since I'm more and more committed to sustainable living and growing my own food, I figured it was time to buckle down and be willing to do the grunt work. I ordered Jersey Knight asparagus crowns on line last month (only to find out I could have simply gotten them locally...). They arrived the other day, so it's time to get digging!
Oh my word - just as much work as I anticipated! You're supposed to dig a trench and loosen the soil at least 2 shovels deep. My soil outside my raised beds is TERRIBLE - basically subsoil since builders usually steal all your topsoil and sell it, leaving you with CRAPPY soil (shouldn't there be a law against such a stinky practice??!!). I was only able to dig down 8", and would have dug a wider trench, but wore out.... I can't imagine what the digging would have been like had the soil been dry - actually I do know from past experiences - it's like cement! I amended the soil with a bag of manure and 2 wheelbarrow loads of compost. I ended up doing a modified raised bed approach - I laid the crowns on top of the loosened soil, then will add the pile of soil to the right on top of the crowns as they grow, ending up with a raised bed about 4" high. If I feel motivated, I might loosen the soil a bit more along the sides of the trench to give the roots a chance to spread out, but we'll see. This will definitely be an experiment to see if asparagus will grow in not-so-ideal conditions!