Asparagus is a perennial plant and grows from a clump of roots which are planted 6 to 8 inches deep. Once planted, the roots need a couple of years to become established. You are not supposed to harvest the asparagus spears during this time period. Left uncut, the spears grow into a pretty plant several feet tall that has fern-like foliage.
Unfortunately, as time passed, bermuda grass slowly crept into the asparagus bed and took over. The asparagus still came up through the grass every spring, but the spears were not as big and nice as they should have been because of competition with the grass.
It has been my goal for several years now to dig up the asparagus and move it to one of our raised beds where it would be easier to take care of and keep the grass out. I tend to have to "psych" myself up for things like this, especially if they are going to require a lot of work! But a couple of weeks ago when we had a nice late-winter weekend, I decided I was ready to tackle the job. And, what a job it was! Each clump of roots was firmly entrenched in the ground and it was like digging up a small shrub to dig each one up. I ended up having to call Tom to help me. (The same thing happened to me when I tried to dig up some mint that I had planted in a bad place. See http://windyacresnaturalfarm.blogspot.com/2011/02/bad-idea.html )
So, here is a picture of some of the asparagus roots we dug up. The long stick-like things attached to some of the roots are the dried-up remains of last years foliage.
The root clumps are quite large as shown in comparison to my work glove below.
The roots grow out in all directions from the crown. The crown is what produces the spears that you cut and eat. Here is a better picture where you can see the crown.
We dug a couple of parallel trenches in one of the raised beds and spaced the asparagus roots about 18 inches apart.
We added compost to the trench, too, and covered the bed with soil. Here's what it looked like after we were finished.
The asparagus spears should begin to appear in 4 to 6 weeks, but I'll have to be patient and wait a couple of years before I can begin to harvest them. In the mean time, I'll just buy fresh asparagus from some of our fellow vendors at the farmers' market.