I planted asparagus yesterday. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years at Ghosttown, but as a squat farmer, I hesitated, and hesitated, and hesitated. It takes three years before you get a sizeable harvest, and so I figured it would be folly to plant any asparagus. Looking back on it, if I had planted crowns when I started, we’d have had five harvests under our belts. Oh well.
In the perfect timing department, the crowns came in the mail the same day I got the property tax bill (shit!) as a sweet reminder of the pleasures and pain of land ownership. I bought green California Davis asparagus crowns from Peaceful Valley; and then a lovely fan (Stan!) sent me some gorgeous, huge, crowns for the purple asparagus that he grows up in Arbuckle.
Coincidently, I’m reading Joan Gussow’s book Growing, Older and just got to the part where she talks about planting asparagus, and what a pain in the butt it is, having to dig a two foot deep trench in the garden, soak the crowns in water, then shore them up with good compost. Joan’s 80 years old and has been growing a huge garden and writing about nutrition for over 20 years. She wrote This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader over ten years ago, and has been called the matriarch of the organic movement. In fact, if you read some of her essays, you’ll see that she coined some phrases that other people have coopted for themselves, like “our national eating disorder.”
About asparagus Gussow talks about losing her beds from chronic flooding of her river-front property. Instead of giving up, she decided, in her eighties, that she would start again by planting some asparagus from seed–now that will take a long time to produce! She writes, “…if Nature is willing, I might have, one day, short of my nineties, an actual bed of asparagus.” If an eighty-year old is planting asparagus, you should too. Don’t delay, plant some asparagus today.
The exciting thing is: Joan’s coming to San Francisco! I’m the lucky little devil who gets to interview her on-stage at the Commonwealth Club. Yay! Here are the details:
Another thing not to hesitate about? The scion exchange! My plan is to bench graft a bunch of apple rootstock so I can make a Belgium fence with heirloom varieties! Should take about ten years…The scion exchange is in El Sobrante this year, Saturday January 22, 12-3 at 4555 Hilltop Drive. See ya there!