Setting Up Our Asaparagus Bed, Part 2 – Soil Enrichment

With the weather taking a turn for the brighter and drier this week, I’ve been able to put in a few more hours on the Plot #59 asparagus bed to-be. After the basic preparation phase – an initial dig-over to remove as much rubbish weed root and rhizome as possible – the next phase involved adding a large amount of fertilizer in the form of well-rotted horse manure.

Here’s what the ground looked like after the initial dig:

February 2016 asparagus bed 2nd dig: before
Dug over once and ready for excavation

Next up: excavate a trench, around a spade blade’s depth, along the full 4m length and 3m(ish) width of the allotted section. Time to roll up my sleeves, grab my new shovel by its 54″ handle and start digging. I started excavating at one end, re-loosening the soil with a fork before shovelling it into a heap. Once the trench was a metre or so wide, it was time for a short trip to the nearest manure-pile (luckily just over the path on a derelict plot). A barrow-load at a time went into the trench, and was the next section of soil (minimising overall effort, maximising efficiency, etc.)

February 2016 asparagus bed 2nd dig: during
Coming along nicely: trench excavation, manure dumping, re-covering.

…and continue until the job was done, over the course of two afternoon sessions, mostly in glorious late-winter sunshine. Here’s the finished job; not much different to the ‘before’ state, admittedly, but it’s what’s lurking beneath the surface that counts.

February 2016 asparagus bed 2nd dig: during
And we’re done! Ready for the gritting and ridging stage…

The final preparation stage will involve copious amounts of grit. That will need mixing in, along with as much of the surplus soil as is required, and then forming into the three long ridges that the asparagus crowns will be planted on top of. Hopefully at the weekend, weather allowing.

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