This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A few years since I repeated in your journal a new way that had been told me of growing asparagus. It was based on the idea that asparagus yearly made new roots from its annual stalk and a new crown; that the roots from those stalks, year by year, fed higher up, needing "fresh fields and pastures new;" that, therefore, if you top dressed the bed with a thick layer of loamy enrichment, you added thereby the wider range and handy storehouse to feed its new tier of growth. The bed would thus, year by year, shape itself into an oval mound. In the trial which I named, I think the plantation, thus swelling to a little hill, was thoroughly salted to keep down weeds, etc.; well dosed with the kitchen slop from a hotel. I should think the trouble with such abed would be lack of moisture in a dry time. Perhaps the hotel slop remedied that.
An accidental trial of the method, and some study of the plant, led me to think the new way worthy of further test. Some other of your correspondents at the time endorsed the idea as within the range of their observation. The method calls for so little care beyond that annual soil dressing, that it should incite thorough trial by some who have charge of our agricultural colleges and experimental gardens.
Big asparagus is as much a question of manure as of kind. That the garden has not yet proved this method and reported its trial, is not a very heavy fault. Those who garden for profit, and those who cultivate solely for the table, can neither spare time nor space for experiments. Their business is with the dollars or the dish. To them and the future of the plant there are other ways for better crops and larger growths. From the varieties we have, big or small cuttings hang on the question of manure. Asparagus demands rich and heavy food, and plenty of drink. No matter in what way we pile on the manure, it will take all that it can to push its stalks up through. The trouble is, we do not half satiate its craving. It is a perfect glutton of enrichment. We starve the plant, and then talk about our asparagus bed running out. It is our feeding which runs out. It gives us return for all food within reach of its roots. When that is used up, of course it dwindles. Asparagus no more runs out than an oak or an elm. But then it cannot send its roots on so wide a forage It is severely cropped, often choked with weeds which steal its scanty food; and yet, helped by the rest of a winter, its melting snows, and the spring rains, in spite of our stingy feeding, it does pretty well.
Try it, with a big, deep, full covering of well-rotted and fat plant food, and see how its stout, succulent stocks will delight your house and palate.