Growing asparagus and a backyard rainforest

I’ve wanted to grow asparagus for 10 years, ever since I worked at Wollangarra. There was asparagus grown there, what a joy it was to go and pick those fresh spears each morning and see the incredible growth!

Asparagus plants live for about 25 years, best grown in a raised garden bed and they’re not to be moved after their initial planting. So for the last 10 years I have dreamt about having a space that I wouldn’t be moving from so that I could start my asparagus garden bed.

When we moved into our house we were given a corrugated iron raised garden bed. Initially I wasn’t sure what to do with it but suddenly it dawned on me, ASPARAGUS!

We put it in place and then left it a very long time! But just this weekend something clicked, we needed to get them in the ground.

Sunday afternoon saw us strawberry picking and as we were walking out I saw 6 asparagus plants available for purchase. I honestly didn’t know very much about them, so thankfully the owner of the plants had left a note with their phone number.

Monday morning I made the call, I needed to find out what kind of soil we needed, what drainage asparagus needed, how far apart to plant them etc. Mick, the previous owner of our asparagus plants, invited us over to his house that after noon.

Mick

Mick and his wife Joy met us at their front door after their dog Gus alerted them to our arrival. We started with a tour of their amazing market garden with Mick sharing his wealth of gardening knowledge with us. Explaining that they have plants growing under their fruit trees as he’d once noticed that the compost had started sprouting potato plants and he couldn’t pick the potatoes out from between the tree roots.

asparagus

He told us all about growing asparagus, letting them go to fern for the first couple of years, and not to pick any shoots until 2017!!! it’s better for the root stock of the plant to go to fern. And as asparagus don’t use photosynthesis to grow, they start growing before they even break through the ground (did you know that white asparagus are exactly the same as green, but just grow with out any contact to light!?!?), it’s very important for them to have good roots.

baby asparagus plants

We continued our tour of the garden, Mick stopping to give Elliot his own stick to play with (and to stop him from pulling the plant supporting stakes from the ground), he shared a local secret with us, that there is a stash of sea grass down at a local beach that will do wonders for our garden.

Mick and seaweed

We had a little peak into their green house, these guys have a banana tree growing in there! sadly, they’ve never gotten any fruit of it. But there was a bucket load of beautiful red tomatoes in there and of course a host of baby asparagus plants just waiting to be repotted.

tiny asparagus and green house

We’d picked up our 9 new asparagus plants and just as we were walking to the car Mick asked is we had a few more minutes to spare. He opened the front door of his house, we walked in and the photo below is the view that met us. Along the whole back of the house there is a glass wall which looks straight out to this incredible rain forest.

loungeroom window

From their living area we walked out double doors past their BBQ, I expected to feel a rush of tropical humid air like in the butterfly sanctuary at the zoo but instead I was meet with cool damp air.

bbq area

Everywhere I turned, brought on another exclamation of WOW! 25 years ago when they decided to build this house Mick and Joy had ordered a shade cloth to cover the whole area, but found when it arrived that it could not be lifted, they had to engineer a way to get the middle to a peak.

backyard rainforest

The array of plants is astounding! Mick says that when something dies it gets replaced with another plant, something a little more hardy.

We left feeling totally inadequate but completely impressed! It was such a inspirational visit that I wanted to share it with you. It’s always a wonder what people do with their space!

backyard pond

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