How to Grow Series

Asparagus


Asparagus can grow in most any area of the country, but they don't like mild wet areas where the ground never freezes. That being said, asparagus is probably one of the easiest, long-lived vegetables you can grow.

How to grow asparagus

Select an area that gets full sun and is well drained. Your asparagus beds should be about 4' wide and contain a lot of aged manure and compost so that the soil is light and easily turned over in spring. Raising the beds a few inches will allow the beds to drain well and warm up quickly in spring. Perform a soil test to ensure the soil pH is 6.0 or slightly higher. It is also imperative that all weeds have been removed from the bed. If perennial weeds are a problem, covering the area with plastic for 6 months before planting will kill them and then you can build the soil back up again with compost.

There are male and female asparagus plants with males producing more shoots and females producing seeds. Start plants from 1-year-old crowns as they will produce stalks faster than from seed and will be less likely to suffer transplant shock than older crowns.

Before planting your crowns, soak them in water for 20 minutes to soften them. To plant asparagus crowns, dig a trench that is about 6" deep and 12" wide. Place the crowns in the trench about 2' apart and then cover with 3" of soil. As the crowns sprout and grow, add more soil until the trench is slightly mounded.

Mulch the beds heavily to prevent weeds from competing with new shoots. Water well for the first two years or so until the plants are well established, then you can water once a week during dry weather. Fertilize in spring and fall with compost tea or an organic fertilizer such as Plant Tone.

Wait at least two years before harvesting any spears so that the plants spend time growing a strong root system. Spears will begin to emerge in early spring and can be snapped off at the soil line or cut with a knife when they get about 8" tall. Spears can be harvested about every three days at first and as the weather warms up you will be harvesting daily for about 4 weeks for new plants and up to 8 weeks for older plants. Make sure you harvest before the tops of the spears bud out. After this happens the spears will be tough.

How to Grow Asparagus

Asparagus foliage gets to be about 4'-6' tall. In fall it will become brown after a frost. Cut down the foliage at this time and remove any weeds that have come up through the mulch. Weeding is very important as asparagus plants do not like competition from other plants.

I hope this article inspires you to try a new perennial vegetable, Asparagus.

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