Tips for growing the best asparagus

Asparagus (22091)

Asparagus matures very slowly. It is three years from seed to the first harvest,
so planting seed in your garden is the longest possible way to get fresh
homegrown asparagus.

Instead, cut a full year off the maturation time by planting one-year-old roots.
These are available at most garden centers and on line. Two year old roots
are also available, but the younger ones are better, because when the two
year old roots are dug up much of their root structure is left behind making them
slow to recover from the shock of trans-planting.

Asparagus roots need a thick layer of soil protection, both from the elements
and from cultivation, so they need to planted deeply.
Dig a trenches that are 12-inches deep and about 18-inches wide, with a
distance of about 4 feet or so, center to center between the trenches.

asparagus trenches

Asparagus trenches

At the base of the trench loosen the soil about 8 to 10 inches and add
1/2 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 10 foot.

Asparagus thrives in neutral soil, with a pH of about 7.0, so if a soil test
shows this deep trench soil to be too acid, sweeten it with ground
limestone. Then add 4 inches of old compost in the bottom of the trench
Doing this will help keep your plants well fed for many years.

After you have spaded the soil and added the fertilizer and compost,
the soil in the bottom will be very loose. To give the roots a solid base
to rest on walk over the soil to firm it down, and then rake to make level,
leaving the trench 8 to 10 inches deep ready for the asparagus roots.

Fan the asparagus roots out like the arms of an octopus and lay
them spaced 2-foot apart along the floor of the trench, cover gently
with 2-inches of garden soil, take great care, the roots are fragile.

spread out the roots

Spread out the roots

As the summer progresses and the stems start to grow,
pull soil from the sides of the trench and cover stalks as they grow,
until the trench is filled compeletly. Every three months or so side dress
the trench with 10-10-10 fertilizer, about a handful for each plant.

In May, two years after planting your one year old roots will
produce a healthy crop, ready for harvest when the stems are
about 8 inches tall and 1/2 inch or bigger around.

Keep the first harvest to a minimum, so as many stems as possible
will grow on and nourish the plants for following years.
Be sure to pick the crop on time, because the growing stems
quickly send out side branches and foliage, when this happens
the opportunity to harvest is lost.

Don't use tools to harvest the asparagus, just bend the stems
until they break, any portion of the stem that is too tough to
break is to tough to eat.

harvest stalks of asparagus

Harvest

When you notice in your bed that there are no asparagus stems
fatter than 1/2 inch in diameter, the season is done and the plants
are about to enter the revival period. Help them along by fertilizing
the bed with 5-5-10, and then again in mid July to late August,
depending on your area.

Asparagus foliage is an ideal place for borers to spend the winter,
so it should be cut down to soil level in the late fall, after it has
turned brown and withered. This is good for new and established
beds. Give the asparagus bed a top dressing of about 2-inches
of cow manure to help the soil build up strenght for the next year.

Japanese beetles can destory your asparagus plants. So take
steps to contol them.