Asparagus Patch

Beech unfurling

Beech unfurling

Carpenter bees humming in their vertical mating frenzy – saw dust falls on the paper as I write beneath the roof of the old front porch – the beech unfurling her glorious curls: this is the time to stalk through the rows of asparagus, hunting their eponymous beetle. The adults are orange with black spots, easy to spot on tender green fronds, but they drop off with the slightest motion and slip easily through the fingers to scuttle away beneath the mulch.

I’d say I’m getting about 50% – not a satisfying crunch like a Japanese beetle, but a gratifying squishy finality nonetheless. The slim eggs deposited like little spikes along the stalks are easy to rub away. With such a small patch, the direct organic approach of manual murder without pesticides is ideal. God knows what commercial growers do.

Here in the hollow spears reliably poke up around Jefferson’s birthday, April 13. The ten new crowns we added in March joined the remnants of our original patch transplanted 6 years ago from the open garden to the safety of the deer fence. I harvest nothing thinner than a pencil and cut the thicker ones with a sharp paring knife a bit below soil level so the cut stalk doesn’t dry out in the air. New crowns should be allowed 3 years before any harvesting.

After a few seasons of neglect, this spring we added compost, mulched with straw, and have the very best intentions of keeping the rows well weeded and watered through the season. The patch and the gardener’s hopes live on.

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