Unlike houses that only gently admonish us once a year with the expression “Spring Cleaning”, gardens ask that twice a year we get down and dirty and work until our backs and legs are singing to bring a temporary order before allowing nature to rule for another half-year.
This weekend I have begun the Fall Cleaning in earnest. After a year of unmolested growth and rooting, it was time to cut back the asparagus and the strawberry runners and bed them down for the winter.
The 5′ asparagus plants looked like little Christmas trees even before the seeds turned bright red two months ago and mimicked ornaments. In the past couple of weeks some of the green growth had started to yellow and then brown, signaling the time to remove the above ground part so the underground crowns could prepare themselves for winter.
Asparagus has a long and storied history going back at least 5,000 years to Egyptian times and has the rare distinction of appearing in one of the oldest known recipe books De re coquinaria (“On the Subject of Cooking”) from the 4th or early 5th century AD.
My Jersey Knight and Purple Passion asparagus crowns were transplanted into my garden in the earliest part of 2015 meaning that I could not harvest anything this first year and could only watch as the tender shoots grew to and then beyond edibility stage and finally into the fern like growth above.
Although I could not eat the shoots this year, nothing goes to waste in my garden and the green growth that had fed and nurtured the crowns all year were cut into 2-3″ sections to be composted and feed future growth.
Once the asparagus and strawberry beds were cleaned up they were fitted with low hoops and covered with water and light permeable mesh that will hopefully keep the squirrels and pine needles out until spring.
I have been looking into organic mulching options and ran across Leaf & Limb Tree Service’s site that offered free wood chips delivered to your home (with some caveats). An inquiry has been sent and hopefully soon I will have my crowns bedded down for winter and am already looking forward to getting to harvest some of my own asparagus shoots next year!