Committing a garden sin

Asparagus is a lesson in patience.

Four years ago, I laid some teeny tiny seeds in the garden and watched them sprout teeny tiny ferns.

Asparagus sprouts

My plan all along was to transplant the asparagus once it got big enough. What exactly was big enough I wasn’t sure, but this spring I thought they were probably ready. (In fact, I would have liked to do this last year, but the whole new baby thing disrupted my gardening time.)

Then I looked online for tips and everything I read said basically, “Never, never, ever, ever transplant asparagus. If you try to transplant asparagus you will be committing a massive garden sin.”

Okie-dokie. Sounds great.

I think the main concern with transplanting is delaying your asparagus harvest even further. Most of the time when people plant crowns, the recommendation is to not pick any asparagus until the second year. With starting from seed, I had read we’d have to wait four years.

We’re in our fourth spring now, so technically we could have harvested. But having grown from seed, they were very tightly spaced in two parallel rows. I wanted them to have more room to grow big and strong, so I decided to dig them all up.

Two rows of asparagus crowns

Along with dire warnings, my online research did garner a few tips. I fortified the soil with a hefty dose of compost and manure, raiding the pile that’s been behind the barn since we moved here.

Emptying the backyard composter

Digging into the manure pile

The advice on actually extracting the plants was less helpful: use a fork to gently tease the roots from the soil.

Um. No. That was not happening.

The asparagus root system is incredible. I was more than a foot away from the plants when I encountered the first thick, ropey root.

I quickly resorted to a sharp shovel. Despite my merciless hacking, I tried to save as much of the roots as possible and kept big chunks of dirt around the crowns. I consoled myself that the plants looked like they had more roots than the crowns people buy, so I was at least as good if not better than nursery stock. Plus my plants were out of the ground for less than a minute.

Asparagus crown root

I dug a deep trench and spaced the plants about a foot apart. I heaped them with soil, manure and compost and gave them a good drink. To cap it all off, I added a layer of mulch.

Watering transplanted asparagus crowns

I ended up with about 12 plants. I probably could have divided the crowns a bit more, but I didn’t want to traumatize them more than I already had. Plus, I filled the whole space I had allocated in the raised bed and was running into the grapes.

Row of asparagus crowns in raised bed

It’s been nearly a month since the transplanting. We’ve had a lot of rain and the asparagus seem to be thriving. We have some nice chunky stalks, but I’m restraining myself from picking anything.

Asparagus growing in the garden

Hopefully the patience will pay off and next year we will have our first harvest.

Have you committed any garden sins? Do you have asparagus in your garden? Or any crops that are testing your patience?


14 thoughts on “Committing a garden sin

  1. Funniest line: “use a fork to gently tease the roots from the soil.” I’m about to commit my own garden sin – transplanting a peony in spring, even before it blooms! We shall see…

  2. Regrets, I’ve had a few…

    My parents bought a camellia something (wow) 23 years ago but the winters were a little too harsh for it. They eventually did better by potting it and bringing it in for the winter. Then I took it because it’s way warmer and more sheltered from wind in the city, and it died the first winter. It might have lived had I gotten around to de-paving my back yard and planting the camellia in the ground.

    Then there was watering. Between a contractor experience gone wrong that left half of my house too messy to use and scorching heat that made me not want to go outside at all, I lost interest in watering and my containers didn’t stand a chance. This year I’m planning to put in quarter inch plastic lines for irrigation before we let the plants die again.

    • For quite a while my mom wouldn’t give me any plants until I had a hole already dug to put it in. Because she knew I would let it sit in a pot and dry to death. I’m doing much better about that so she trusts me a little more! 😂

  3. I would find it hard to resist those chunky stalks! Also, what rich-looking compost. Is this the first time you’ve dug into it?

  4. I know you’ve seen my IG posts that this has been a great year for asparagus for me! This is the third year for my crowns and the first year that I felt they looked healthy enough to harvest.

    Interesting about the transplanting though. Steve has thought about bringing me home wild asparagus that he finds when farming but hasn’t done so yet. I guess it may be worth a try, yours looks fantastic!

  5. I killed my raspberry plants last year. I was renovating one house to move into and one house to sell and I forgot to water the pot they were in. I almost saved them, then I forgot to water them again.

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