Setting Up Our Asparagus Bed, Part 3 – Drainage

With (reasonably) fine weather continuing over the weekend, I took the opportunity to finish off the essential preparation for the soon-to-be asparagus bed down on Plot #59.

Quick recap on the process so far:

  1. Part 1 – Basic Preparation
  2. Part 2 – Soil Enrichment

Here’s what the ground looked like before I started work:

March 2016 - Asparagus bed, pre-ridging
Dug over, manured and ready for ridging.

The next stage was to work on providing plenty of drainage for the asparagus crowns, which thrive in soil that’s fertile but well-drained. Following advice from various gardening books and a Gardener’s World piece on asparagus planting that Monty Don did last year, I invested in ten bulk bags of gravel from B&Q. Because I was using builders’ grade gravel, rather than the pre-washed, decorative-grade (and more than twice as pricey) stuff, the first job was to give the gravel a thorough rinsing. Into the wheelbarrow, along with a watering can’s worth of saved rainwater, a good sloshing around and out comes (hopefully) a lot of the surplus clay, silt and salt:

March 2016 gravel washing
Important to get rid of the excess salts in particular.

Three and a third(ish) bags then went to form the basis for each ridge:

March 2016 asparagus ridge bases
Hopefully enough gravel there to keep the crowns well-drained.

I then added soil from the big pile of material that I dug out of the section to begin with, mixed with a fork and went along the ridges with a spade, straightening the rows:

March 2016 asparagus ridges finished off
Straight enough for purpose…

And that’s pretty much that, until the crowns arrive from Blackmoor Nurseries, hopefully in the next couple of weeks. One more post to come as the crowns go in, and then the long wait for a harvest will begin…

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