Last night with great pride I potted up my baby asparagus. Asparagus is a slow maturing plant which lives for years. It is fiendishly expensive to buy roots, so (as some will remember) I invested in asparagus seed. This is also fiendishly expensive, but only by the standards of seed. I was allocated ‘a minimum of’ twelve seeds, and when they came there were actually sixteen. I treated each one as if it the price of a year old root and to my astonishment in time all sixteen germinated. Potting them was a little like weaning a baby. I placed them tenderly outside, knowing that they were too wiry to attract slugs. Thinking the open air would produce stronger plants, which I would then over-winter inside. When I went to work this morning they were all there.
When I got home one was missing and its little pot all dishevelled. Some feathered criminal – perhaps a hen or a chick, but maybe a goose, has dragged it out and eaten it – to my disproportionate grief and rage.
Tonight I moved them back indoors to a sunny windowsill – there they join the purple sprouting broccoli which had been attacked by insects and are now in recovery. Asparagus are one of the few plants we don’t destroy to eat – that seeedling had a long and happy life before it!