Asparagus Crowns and Social Distancing

A closer view of asparagus crowns set in a row

Coming off spring break, Auburn University changed all of their classes to be taught from a distance in order to facilitate social distancing. As such, Rural Studio Farm’s farm manager, Eric, suddenly found himself without his usual work force, meaning there was more work than a single person could realistically do for normal operations. Most of the food out in the field can still be harvested and frozen for later use, but Eric has shifted his focus away from such heavy production toward work that is more sustainable, as it will probably be August at the earliest that Eric will have student workers again.

Planting cover crops and building soil has become a major focus, as has planting more perennials, like scallions and artichokes, which will produce more in the future and require less maintenance overall. One of these is asparagus. Eric planted 100 asparagus crowns (which look like spaghetti or deep-sea squids), working the soil down to a depth of at least a foot and planting them about five inches deep in trenches. On average one can figure that four crowns will produce enough for one person, and each crown can produce for 15 to 20 years.

After only a single week, the new shoots are over 20 inches tall—that’s about four inches per day.

A newly emerged asparagus shoot