In the Garden: planting octopi

Last month my order from Stark’s Nursery arrived, and the box was almost as big as me!  It contained three bare root fruit trees, an apple, peach, and plum, and twenty asparagus plants.

I was delighted!

We planted the three trees that very Sunday, and I took care of the asparagus on Monday.   I must confess that planting asparagus is like trying to plant an octopus!  Or in this case twenty octopi!  It was very hard work, and Violet helped, but I was tired!


First you dig the hole, then mound up the dirt in the center and place your octopus over the mound like this.

So what’s so hard about that you ask?

Let me back up, then.  Well, for starters I had to entirely amend that clay soil to make it permeable.  Asparagus puts down a very deep root system, some say six feet, others say up to ten feet, and they like good drainage.  Luckily, our clay seems to drain well, but I wanted to give it at least a two foot head start with the amendments.  I had the advantage with the raised bed, but that still meant going down into the base soil for that extra foot.

The next step was getting the tentacles and crown to lay flat on the little hills while I back-filled each hole.  The crowns need to be two to three inches under the soil with no air pockets underneath.   I spread them out, placing the long, rubbery roots down into the soil.  I pressed the crown down and  PoP!  They spring right back up!  I finally learned to just weight them down by placing several large handfuls of soil on the center of the plant.

Now I had to dig, mound, spread roots, hold down crowns and back-fill nineteen more times.

Only three more to go!

The plants are in and watered.  Now I wait.  You see, asparagus takes about three years to mature to a size where you can harvest from the plants.  This is an investment of preparation, care, and time.  However, if you enjoy asparagus, and we do, it is definitely worth the effort, because an asparagus bed will last for years!


My favorite way to eat asparagus is grilled.  You can do this outside on the barbecue, or in your oven using the broiler.


You will need:

  1. One bunch of asparagus
  2. Olive oil
  3. Kosher salt


  1. Rinse asparagus and drain well
  2. Lightly coat with olive oil and place on foil lined grill if using the broiler, or directly onto a grilling tray if using the barbecue
  3. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt

This method cooks relatively fast so stay close by.  When the one side has turned a darker green and looks a bit wrinkled (not too much!) turn the asparagus and finish the other side.  Serve immediately.


NOTE:  Some people, Like the Barefoot Contessa like theirs served with a delightful Parmesan sauce and lemon!  Please click on her name above to be taken to her inspired recipe for this delicious vegetable!


I just found this lovely article that tells all on Asparagus, its history, uses, nutrition and more.  For instance, did you know this power packed vegetable is from the lily family?  You might like to take a look here at Nutrition and You.

My Summary of Summer…

We are having the most perfect fall morning.  You know…  the one where the sky is just the right shade of blue, the sun makes everything shine, and the air is cool and clear.   I open the windows and breathe in deeply…  Thinking of Summer’s demise and the official start of fall the Equinox that will not arrive until “…03:09 (or 3:09am) Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on September 23, 2010…” officially speaking.  And that brings me to…

My Summary of Summer: or how I learned to survive and enjoy it in spite of the drought.

Yee-gads, what a summer it has been!  With fall preparations right around the corner I take these few moments to share with you.  So here it is.  The truth of it.

We’ve lost, gained, learned and grown, in our knowledge of gardening, critters and bees.  However, we found out essential things along the way.  For this is the importance of our lessons after all… that we have indeed learned from them.

Lessons such as:

  1. Hawks gotta eat.  We lost one Buff Polish rooster and a Guinea Hen to the hawks this summer.  We were very sad about it but out of 35 beaks we consider the losses minimal.
  2. Chickens don’t like snakes.  Well really, we knew that, but what we didn’t know was that they would actually chase them off the property!  Amazing to see!
  3. When vegetable gardening you need to plant about four times as much as you think you will need.  Why?  Because you need enough for you and the little squirrels and voles that love to nibble the bottoms off of every tomato, pepper, and bean within their reach.  You also need enough to feed all the squash bugs and tomato horn worms, and any other insect that comes by to dine!  And this is important… you need enough to share with the neighbors who graciously put up with the noise and flies that your menagerie will produce (no matter what you do to combat them)!  Although a dozen eggs now and again goes a long way to keeping them from complaining!  ;D
  4. Murphy’s Law – If there is a draught and you fix the pump and get it going, then the rain will come… in buckets and torrents!  AND  If stops raining again, then you will surely dig up the electric line that was buried shallowly in the soil and end up running a very long extension cord out to make it run again… yes REALLY!
  5. Bees, if properly housed and protected, can be quite self-sufficient and really need little else from me.  I pretty much leave them alone, they have plenty of their own stores to eat, are healthy, and show little evidence of dreaded intruders such as hive beetle, veroa mites and wax moths.  In fact, it would seem that my chickens do a very good job of breaking the cycle of the hive beetles, and I have seen no evidence of mites or wax moths.  Bees are very impressive little critters!

All in all I feel that difficulties we faced were minor, the knowledge we have gained was invaluable, and this winter will allow us to do quite a bit to be more prepared for next spring and summer!

Things we need to do between now and next spring are:

  1. Build the geese an outside hut for sleeping in.  Right now they are being shepherded into the barn each night.  They need a little home of their own!
  2. Build a cold frame for starting seeds.
  3. Build a potting table (done!!!) with an old kitchen sink in it.  It will be useful for transplanting seedlings into newspaper cups and placing picked fruits and vegetables up off the ground so the chickens can’t peck them.  Oh the sink?  Well that will be a good place to wash the soil off of everything before I bring it into the house.
  4. Build a garden bench to sit and rest a spell while I contemplate work that needs doin’,  to look at all I have accomplished, and to take  a moment now and again to be grateful for all I have been blessed with!

Were you blessed this summer?  Perhaps you might take a moment to write a comment and share your blessings with other readers?

I hope so!


P.S.  I’ve a bit of humor to share with you before I close.



Why, its Lil’ Bit on the prowl!

Now…  how could you possibly be afraid of that?