How to Grow Asparagus: There is a reason why many of us turn to asparagus in the spring and summer: it is one of the first harvests of the spring harvest, and the freshly picked spears are more tender and tasty during the growing season. Plus, this versatile green is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, making it a healthy (and welcome) addition to any meal.
While the idea of growing asparagus can be overwhelming, it shouldn’t be: asparagus is a great place to start as it is one of the few perennial vegetables that will grow fresh spears year after year with little of space and effort. Even if it takes three years for the asparagus plants to reach full maturity, it will be worth it when you have an abundance of nutritious spears at your disposal.
Now here is everything you need to know about growing asparagus, whether you start with a seed or a lance.
How to grow asparagus from seeds
It takes patience to start your asparagus patch from seeds, but there are benefits to gain from the extra wait. Seed-grown plants don’t suffer from transplant trauma like roots grown in nurseries, and you can buy a whole packet of seeds for the same price as you would pay for a crown of asparagus. Most asparagus grown as seeds eventually exceeds those produced from the roots.
In northern climates, start indoor planting in late February or early March. Sow single seeds in newspaper pots, place the pots in a sunny window and use the bottom heat to keep the temperature of the mixture in the pots at 77ºF. When the seeds germinate, lower the temperature to 60 to 70 ºF. Once the danger of frost has passed, plant the seedlings (which should be about 1 foot tall) 2 to 3 inches deep in a nursery.
When tiny flowers appear, observe them with a magnifying glass. The female flowers have well-developed three-lobed pistils; male flowers are larger and longer than female flowers. Eliminate all female plants. The following spring, transplant the males to the permanent bed.
How to plant asparagus
Select and prepare your asparagus bed carefully – this crop will occupy the same place for 20 years or more. It can tolerate some shade, but full sun produces more vigorous plants and helps minimize disease. Asparagus does best in lighter soils that heat up quickly in the spring and drain well; standing water will quickly rot the roots.
Prepare a planting bed for your asparagus – single raised beds work best – which are about 4 feet wide by removing all weeds and perennial roots and digging in aged manure or compost.
Asparagus plants are monoecious, which means that each asparagus plant is either male or female. Certain varieties of asparagus, such as Jersey Knight and Jersey Giant, produce all male or predominantly male plants, so they are more productive – male plants produce more harvestable shoots because they do not have to invest energy in seed production. Stick to a variety of all-male asparagus if high yield is your primary goal.
With a fully male variety, 25 plants are generally suitable for a household of four; double this amount for standard varieties. (Burning asparagus enthusiasts recommend tripling these amounts.)
Starting asparagus from one-year-old wreaths gives you a head start on plants grown as seeds. Although you may think that two-year-old crowns are a better option, they tend to suffer more from transplant shock and do not produce faster than one-year-old crowns. Buy one-year-old wreaths from a reputable nursery that sells fresh, firm, disease-free roots. Plant them immediately if possible; if not, wrap them in slightly moist sphagnum moss until you are ready to plant.
To plant asparagus crowns, dig trenches 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep (8 inches in sandy soil) in the center of the prepared bed. Soak the crownsfor 20 minutes before planting. Place the crowns in the trenches 1½ to 2 feet apart; garnish with 2 to 3 inches of soil. Two weeks later, add another inch or two of soil. Continue to add the soil periodically until it is slightly in a mound above the surface level to allow sedimentation.
How to mulch and water your asparagus plant
After removing visible weeds, apply mulch to smother the remaining weeds, which compete with young spears and reduce yields. Water regularly for the first two years after planting. As the asparagus matures, they squeeze out most of the weeds and send long, fleshy roots deep into the soil, so watering is less critical. Fertilize in the spring and fall by applying a top coat of liquid fertilizer (such as compost tea) or coating with a balanced fertilizer.
Leave winter-killed foliage, as well as straw or other light mulch, on the bed for winter protection. Remove and destroy fern-like foliage before new growth occurs in the spring; it can harbor harmful diseases and eggs.
If you want to grow white asparagus, which has a slightly sweeter flavor than green asparagus, whiten the spears by piling up soil or mulch on the bed before they come out.
How to harvest asparagus
Do not harvest asparagus tips during the first two years when the plants are in the permanent bed, as they need to put in energy to establish deep roots. In the third season, pick the spears over a four-week period and, in the fourth year, extend your harvest to eight weeks. In early spring, collect the spears about every three days; As the weather warms up, you may need to collect your asparagus twice a day to track production.
To harvest, cut the asparagus spears with a sharp knife or break the spears at ground level or just below with your fingers.
How To Solve Pest Problems And Defects
Healthy asparagus foliage is necessary for good root and spear production. Asparagus, which chews spears in the spring and attacks the foliage in the summer, is the most common problem. 1/4 long, metallic blue-blackhave three white or yellow spots on the back. They lay dark eggs along the leaves, which hatch into light gray or brown larvae with black heads and feet. Control by manual picking; spray or dust severely infested asparagus .
These methods also control the 12-point asparagus beetle, which is reddish brown with six black spots on each wing cover. The asparagus miner is another pest that feeds on the foliage; it makes zigzag tunnels on the stems.
If your asparagus bed is infected with the disease organisms, your best option is to start a new bed in a remote part of the garden, using newly purchased or cultivated plants.
If young spears turn brown and become soft or withered, they may have been injured by. Cover the spears with or a diary when frosty nights are expected.