Asparagus = Hope

by DK Crawford

Nothing says you have hope for the future like planting asparagus. If you plant it from seeds, it takes three years before you can harvest any fruit. If you use crowns or plants, it takes two. And an asparagus plant lives for 15-20 years, so putting them somewhere means you cannot use that area for anything else for up to two decades.

I have always wanted an asparagus bed but kept putting it off thinking, “That’s not the right spot,” “It’s not the right time,” “What if I move?” or even worse, “What if the world implodes?!”

My fear of committing to asparagus is symbolic for my hesitation to set long-term goals, intertwine roots, and look toward the future.

With the world having crisis-upon-crisis and life seeming even more tentative than before, it seems such an odd time to plant something that signifies hope and whose very nature signifies a good, long life.

To plant asparagus, you first dig a 6-inch deep trench. Then place the plants or crowns in this trench 18-24 inches apart. As the plants grow, rather than their roots moving solely downward into the soil, the larger rhizomes move laterally and form a strong, webbed, horizontal network.

So not only does asparagus symbolize spring and longevity, it also speaks of reaching out and connectivity.

Though I hesitated to pay $4 for my asparagus plants, I bought them anyway. Then, even though I didn’t think I had the correct bed ready, I cleared some space in a bed that was available and planted them anyway!

I felt wickedly rebellious.

Each step I took toward creating this bed in spite of what logic, circumstance, and fear were saying made me feel evermore joyful. With each further action, a secret smile started to form inside me, like I was defying the “shoulds,” “shouldn’ts,” and naysayers.

As I was kneeling, packing fresh dirt around their verdant, fern-like heads, I realized, in spite of everything negative I read, I do have hope for the future. There is no way I know if I will be here in two years to see the first harvest, let alone enjoying its fruit for 20, but being willing to dedicate space for them and let them weave their tangled, forceful roots together in unity spoke volumes.

As I took a moment to gaze down at my small fuzzy forest, I was filled with love, hope, and possibility. This tiny act proved powerful, optimistic parts of me are still alive.

We all have hesitations and concerns about the future that cause us to not commit to moments of joy. It might be as small as tucking away special linens for the future, not hanging a picture, waiting to paint a room, or not wanting to commit to putting potted plants on a balcony. Or it might be as large as not making that move you have always longed for, not pursuing the career you secretly dream of, or waiting to have a baby.

I am realizing that putting these moments off is delaying joy and, perhaps, now is the time we need to follow our bliss.

What dawned on me was that I only had that one moment and in that moment, my heart literally fluttered with the ritual of planting my tiny forest. Even if I never see a single spear, I can now say I have experienced the joy and hope of planting an asparagus bed.

And that moment alone, not its result, has changed me.

*Photo credit: Gil Ndjouwou, Unsplash