Asparagus fails

Before I moved to my new flat without a garden, I attempted to grow asparagus a few times. Let’s see how that turned out (spoiler: not well).

The first thing I did was, a couple of years back, I bought a pack of seeds. This was before I really understood why people didn’t grow everything from seed (I thought seeds just grew when you put them in soil because that was my experience to this date).

I do think part of the problem is that seed companies need to make it clear on their websites if there are any really stupid things you have to do to make the seeds grow. These asparagus seeds apparently needed to be soaked in cold water for 24-48 hours before being planted.

Hmm. Okay. I have ADHD but I’ll try to do that.

Guess what happened?

I put them in water and left them in a safe place away from my toddler, completely forgot they existed, and a few days later found the cup I was soaking them in. It had gone bad. So I tipped the mouldy water and asparagus seeds down the toilet. And decided I’d try harder next time.

The trouble is, with ADHD, it’s not lack of effort that causes the problems. I tried really hard. Same outcome.

Okay. Third time lucky. I got the bloody seeds soaked. I put them in plant pots with a bit of soil exactly the way the seed packet told me to do it.

Waited a month.

Okay maybe their germination was a bit longer.

Waited another two months.

Nothing sprouted.

So I wrote that off as a bad packet of seeds and decided to look for the bare root plants to grow. This took about a year of actively looking for them before I managed to get to a garden centre at a time when they had the stuff in stock and were legally allowed to sell it (yeah, Ireland was one of the more preposterous countries in which to spend lockdown, a lot of plants in garden centres died).

I was very excited to finally have some bare root plants. I got six. I waited until the last frost had passed, then I planted three in my raised bed and put the other three in different shapes/sizes of large planters, using expensive soil out of bags to make sure the drainage was perfect.

All of them died.

I would have guessed the problem was the waterlogged soil if it had just been the ones in my raised bed that died. But the ones in the planters died too. They had turned white, shrivelled up and fallen over.

I don’t really understand what happened so I don’t have any lessons learned here except that asparagus is really hard to grow and apparently I’m not very good at growing it. There has to be a way to do this because I see asparagus in the shops almost permanently.

The only factor I can think of is that the climate in Donegal wasn’t right for the plant. Maybe the air is too damp. Maybe there’s too much rainfall. Or not enough sunlight. Donegal is really not a great place to try and grow anything because it seems to be a season behind England but then it goes from late spring to early autumn without a proper summer every year. Meaning the climate is basically good for potatoes and that’s about it.

Only, it isn’t, because half the time, the air is full of Potato Blight (which, misleadingly, also kills tomatoes).

So I will try again when I have a house and garden in the south of England and see if I can do something to grow my favourite vegetable.

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