How I Planted Asparagus in a Flood Zone
Have you ever walked outside the morning after a soaking spring rain? What did you smell? What fragrances assaulted your senses? Have you breathed in the fragrance of life?
A neighbor organic gardener shared asparagus plants with me, which I brought home and planted immediately. The area where I needed to place these transplants, however, was right next to the flood waters, which had receded somewhat, to within three feet away.
Will my asparagus survive in a flood zone?
I love asparagus! I get to enjoy it so seldom that it feels like a luxury food every time. So I really wanted my asparagus transplants to do well, even for enjoying this year.
So here’s how I planted asparagus transplants in the flood zone . . .
. . . where the pond became a lake!
1. I dug a hole about a foot deep and two feet diameter. But yikes! With the flood waters still only three feet away, water came seeping into my hole, filling the bottom, two or three inches deep.
2. So next I layered the bottom of the whole with chunks of wood, then covered the wood with soil, to form the foundation of a hugelkultur raised bed. (More about hugelkultur raised beds below.)
3. Then I piled smaller sticks on top of the soil in the hole, with more soil on top of that.
4. I added composted cow manure in order to provide more immediate access of nutrients to the soil for the plants.
5. And to provide even more immediate nutrition to the plants, I added a chunk of alfalfa, a legume that is an excellent source of nitrogen, a natural fertilizer.
6. Well, after all that, I found that my mound was still not high enough above ground level to withstand flooding waters that may overflow the area again. So I decided to find more bio mass to add more height to the mound.
7. I found some small dried brush nearby to spread on the mound.
8. After topping it with more soil, I cut a few comfrey leaves and spread them around. Comfrey is also full of nitrogen, so they act as a green manure fertilizer to the soil.
9. After all that, the mound was a good foot above ground level, so I decided it was high enough and placed the whole compacted clump of asparagus roots on the very top and covered it with more soil. I could have divided the roots to give probably eight to ten plants. But I want to enjoy asparagus this year! So I’ll wait until this fall or next spring to divide the roots and develop a nice big asparagus bed.
10. Finally, I covered the whole mound with well composted woodchips to hold the moisture inside the mound, as well as to help hold the mound together. I also sprinkled a few white clover seeds around the lower third of the mound. Clover is another nitrogen-fixing legume. It doesn’t grow very tall, but its roots also help to hold the mound together while fertilizing the soil. The clover hasn’t sprouted yet, but hopefully soon I’ll delight in seeing their little heads poke up into the sunlight.
A note about hugelkultur raised beds:
“Hugelkultur (HOO-gul-culture). It’s German for hill culture or hill mound.” (Nifty Homestead)
“Hugelkutur raised beds rely on branches, rotting wood, wooden stumps, and waste wood, as the foundation of a raised garden bed. A hugelkultur bed is like a big compost pile. It is similar to lasagna gardening, but with the carbon inputs coming from wood waste.” (Joybilee Farm)
There are several benefits of hugelkultur raised beds. “They hold moisture, build fertility, maximise surface volume and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.” (Permaculture Magazine)
The past couple years we’ve been dealing with flooding issues. But for six years before that, these Kansas plains were dealing with severe drought. So since we are working with building a garden in an area that requires our thinking about both drought, and now flooding issues, I like the idea that the wood soaks up water for providing moisture to the plants’ roots. This helps in both drought and flooding environments. As the wood breaks down in the decaying process over time, it also releases nutrients slowly into the soil, and this has proven to exponentially multiply plant growth and productivity. So I’m hoping that by building a hugelkultur raised bed for my asparagus, I am helping my asparagus to survive in the flood zone, as well as to produce well in any future weather patterns in the years ahead.
Ten days after transplanting:
It rained last night, and this morning I walked out to a glorious spring morning with new life bursting everywhere. And you could actually smell the fragrance of life. New life. Abundant life bursting forth. The fragrance of shalom. From the earth’s flourishing life-giving provisions.
I walked by the asparagus beds in the flood zone to check again if my transplants were surviving the floods. This is what I found. Yum! Several new spears that I broke off for our lunch! My asparagus appears to be doing very well, as if they never even knew they had been transplanted. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.
And I sure am enjoying the luxury of asparagus from my own garden. 🙂
These flourishing life nurturing provisions.
From the God-given gift of the land.
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