Monday, October 25, 2010

In anticipation of operation: Asparagus Wrangling

The leaves have changed and are falling in abundance here in Michigan. The sumac is red and brown; the poison ivy is a variety of beautiful colors, showing off white berries against russets and golds.
The fall migration is nearly done and we are left with juncos and chickadees where it feels like only weeks ago we had orioles and grossbeaks. The blackbirds are massing and wreaking havoc on the driveway that we share with the grain farmer. He drops grain each time he harvests soy and corn, so we are a real hot spot for the blackbird/starling migration. The huge masses of birds twist and turn in a sort of translucent blob above the fields each morning and evening. It's pretty intimidating, and ultimately fascinating.
The fall is in full swing, winding slowly into the start of winter, though today it was 75 degrees and sunny.
While thinking of fall and winter and the inevitable cold weather doldrums this morning I noticed a very bright yellow patch in the brush along the road beside our driveway. I slowed to a crawl and realized I was staring at a huge patch of wild asparagus, it's color changed to gold for the fall.
(The photo to the left is a stock image I borrowed from google. The photos I tried to take of the patch I discovered were all blurry and nonsensical.)
The patch is almost four square feet, and my guess is that it's terribly crowded and overgrown. I also discovered two other patches on the way to work at the horse farm later. I decided, after some reading, that I'm going to try to transplant part of that patch into my own garden. I know it's a very difficult task ahead of me, but the asparagus seedlings I have planted now are literally years from producing. The reason I didn't notice the delicate fronds of the wild asparagus this summer is that the county uses those huge brush hogs along the sides of the road to keep it from over growing. This asparagus has very little hope of ever producing much since they chop it down repeatedly throughout the growing season. Therefore it's up to me to rescue it!
Okay, I'm being a little silly. I really just want to harvest asparagus sometime next season and from what I've read with a bit of elbow grease it's possible to transplant mature asparagus in fall, in order to harvest spears the following year.
My thought is I'll head out late tomorrow morning with freshly sharpened spade in hand to see what I can do. I have the best spot along the front fenceline for asparagus, right beside my artichoke planter. We'll see what I can do. If all else fails I'll just thin the patch to maintain it's health and productivity and I'll walk up there to harvest spears this coming spring...


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