Gardening Tips and Tricks

Growing Asparagus

Growing AsparagusHow To Grow Asparagus

Asparagus is an expensive vegetable to buy at the store. That’s why years ago I decided to plant my own bed full of asparagus and stick it to the man. I went to my local nursery excited and ready to get them in the ground for harvest in the fall. My mouth dropped to the floor when I heard the words “It will take at least two to three years before you can harvest the spears”. Doom swept across me like a slug drowning in a cup off beer. I suddenly had empathy I never had for those rotten pests. We now had something in common, hopes and dreams for a good meal, only to be deterred by the fact that we had to sit down and wait. And here is why…

Asparagus takes years before you can harvest it. I know that sounds daunting, but if you can wait it is worth it. It only really takes two years before your first harvest. This is because asparagus sends out shoots the first year that are very skinny and look more like a malnourished vegetable. Theses spears however play a important role in the growth for next year, so do not cut them off! The asparagus will grow tall and wispy, eventually die back and all the nutrients will go back into the plant. It works a lot like a tulip does. Put in the work beforehand, reap the benefits once they produce.

Planting Asparagus

In the early spring is the best time to plant asparagus. They are in there dormant stage and look more like a dead root system than a plant. Don’t worry thought once planted they come to life shooting spears all over. I advise you give them there own garden bed because they need room to spread out 9-12 inches apart to grow. Also they don’t like it when the soil is disturbed. Asparagus is planted completely underground so make sure your soil drains well (no one likes their feet wet), and if not mix sand to the bed. Make sure you are planting at least six plants (crowns) or you will only get a small handful of asparagus the following year. The best way to plant asparagus is to dig a trench 5-6 inches deep add aged manure, compost and fertilizer. Asparagus roots should be spread out much like a spider to lay flat and absorb nutrients. Then cover your asparagus crowns with soil and add a marker so no one will dig them up.

Caring For Asparagus

Asparagus is a extremely easy vegetable to care for. It thrives on neglect. As long as you weed it on occasion, it will grow and thrive. As we know the Pacific Northwest gets plenty of rain in spring so water asparagus only during the summer months when it’s really hot and dry. Every year after this add more fertilizer in early spring to keep these little guys happy.

Harvesting Asparagus

Year one: For the first year you will not be harvesting these little green spears. I know it’s sad! At the end of the growing season (fall) cut asparagus stems to one inch above the soil line after they have turned yellow. Then spread a layer of mulch and wait until next year.

Year two: Now it is time for harvesting your asparagus spears! YA! In mid-spring when the spears are about the width of your pinky and 6 inches tall it’s time to chop them down. Don’t wait too long to harvest or the asparagus spears will start to get woody. Get a sharp knife and cut the spears at an angle just below the soil line. Be very careful to not cut new spears that have not yet emerged. New asparagus will continue to pop out of the ground for six to eight weeks. Now you can see why it is worth the wait and 20 years down the road you will still be enjoying asparagus.

Asparagus Pests

Asparagus Beetle, Slugs

Asparagus Diseases

Crown Rot, Rust, Violet Root Rot

Asparagus Friends

Tomatoes, Parsley, Basil

Asparagus Foes

Beans, Peas

Asparagus Varieties

Martha Washington, Jersey Giant, Jersey King, Jersey Knight

Tips For Growing Asparagus

To discourage the asparagus beetle plant parsley around them.

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