When you plant and grow asparagus, you are creating a wondrous food source for years to come!
Asparagus, unlike traditional garden crops such as cucumbers, or tomatoes grows as a perennial.
In fact, once established, asparagus provides an excellent crop for up 20 to 25 years.
And the best part of all, it’s quite to easy to plant and grow!
How To Grow Asparagus
Asparagus is started by seed, or from crowns. Crowns are nothing more than the roots of 1 to 2 year-old asparagus plants.
When you grow asparagus from seed, it can be a long process.
How long? As many as 2 to 3 years before the tiniest of edible spears form.
Planting asparagus by seed is also harder to maintain the first few years.
As the tiny shoots appear, they can easily be snuffed out by weeds. And, they can also easily be mistaken and pulled when weeding.
For this reason, most gardeners prefer to plant crowns.
Asparagus crowns can begin to be harvested and enjoyed enjoy by the second growing season. They are also much easier to start and maintain.
Asparagus crowns, by their very nature of being older, are more defined early on. It results in a crop that is easier see, and to keep weeded!
How To Grow Asparagus – What To Plant
Asparagus plants are either male or female. They can both be harvested and consumed.
Of the two, male varieties have larger and more abundant spear production.
Female varieties tend to be smaller in both height and circumference. Females also produce seeds in the fall for reproduction.
Because of the larger size and production levels, male varieties are usually the preferred planting choice for a home garden.
How To Grow Asparagus – Planting Instructions
With a long crop cycle of 20 or more years, it is important to prepare the bed space with long-term nutrients.
Begin by working in generous amounts of compost to the soil. For each crown to be planted, add in a few shovels of compost. See : How To Make Great Compost
This will provide a good base for initial growth.
Asparagus plants love the sun! Although they can tolerate a bit of partial shade, plant in full sun if at all possible.
Asparagus can be planted in early spring as soon as the threat of heavy frost or freeze is past.
The Trench Method of Planting
The crowns are best planted with a trench method.
Create a trench 10 to 12” wide and 6” in depth. Next, place crowns down in the trench, and cover with a few inches of soil.
For this first layer, you can even mix soil and compost in a 50/50 blend to add in extra nutrients.
As the asparagus crowns begin to grow through the soil, add a few more inches of soil. Do this a few times until the soil is slightly tapered above the surrounding soil.
For the first year, allow the plants to grow tall. Resist the temptation to cut a few spears.
All of the growth during year one is needed to help the plant to strengthen and grow a strong root structure.
Cut plants off in late fall about 1″ above the soil. Protect by placing a three to four inch mulch of straw for winter.
How To Grow Asparagus – Year 2 and Beyond
In the spring of year two, small spears will start to shoot through the earth.
The year 2 spears are smaller, but delicious!
You can harvest these for the first two weeks. After that, it is best to allow the plants to once again grow tall and build up strength.
Year 3 and beyond, full harvests can take place each spring.
After each spring harvest, let the asparagus grow tall in the beds. Repeat the process of cutting back and mulching each fall after the plants have died back.
Keys To Success
The biggest key to grow asparagus successfully is to keep your beds weed free.
Weeds and grass compete for valuable nutrients, and a weed-filled bed will result in smaller, less productive harvests.
Straw works well as a year round mulch.
To keep beds productive, add in inch or so of compost as a top dressing each fall before mulching.
Here is to enjoying a long-lasting perennial harvest of Asparagus in your home garden!
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