Last December I explained that we would be starting 1000 little asparagettes and driving them to North Carolina to transplant in spring 2011. Here's a flat of them, all ferny and radiant, ready to roll. Asparagus made sense. It's a perennial, so could settle itself in while we returned to Maine for a few months. It will be at least two and maybe three years before we harvest it, which is alright because we are planting ourselves for the long haul too--no rush. Organic certification will take a couple of years at any rate, since there was fertilizer applied on the land within the last three years. And we liked the idea of those delicate green fronds waving over the land...a flag, a signal, a stake.
And so we pack them, several-by-several. One of the revelations of gardening, for me, has been how unexpectedly tough seedlings can be. They can be damnably delicate too...but often they'll take quite a bit more rough-housing that one would expect, given their puny appearance. Eventually, all 1000 (more or less) were packed into a set of shelves built to fit into our farm vehicle: a steel blue 1989 Volkswagen Vanagon. They bent their stems without complaint, and chugged along 1100 noisy miles in relative darkness, to arrive in North Carolina waving bright as before. Impressive, really. An example to the rest of us.
Here's the aforementioned Vanagon, with Ed, Phoebe, and somebody's U-Haul for scale. We had our own pull-behind. Ed is the kind of guy who sees little sense in buying something he could build himself. It will usually cost less, and all or surely most of its quirks will be known ahead of time. And the time on it could well have been far more egregiously wasted on some other damned thing. The trip was about as epic as our other Maine-to-North Carolina voyages in recent years--Phoebe calls them the "nighttime adventures," as they begin around 7:00 pm and conclude as evening approaches the following day. Easy for her to say, snuggled in her carseat and dreaming of flying as we roll, roll, roll down Interstate 81.
Family arrived to help, which was good because prodding flats full of hundreds of asparagus seedlings with one's toes in the rain upon cold clay North Carolina ground wasn't getting us anywhere. First, we double-dug the clay, visions of two beds with roomily-planted plants giving way rapidly to one cozily-planted bed. We scootched along the ground stuffing seedlings into dirt for as long as our chilled fingers could manage. Romantic work, eh? Shown here are Ed and big brother Eric demonstrating a little manly pride in having once again gotten something done.