Saturday, March 19, 2016

How To Grow Your Own Asparagus
Weekend Gardening Project

Dedicate one of your garden beds to asparagus.

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I've Always Wanted to Grow Asparagus
A few weeks ago my nephew Cody brought me five 2-year old asparagus crowns to plant. I was so excited, I bought another 20 crowns. Since I'm inpatient and not getting any younger, I bought more 2-year old crowns. Asparagus is a perennial and will stay in the same bed for up to 20 years but it may take a few years to be productive so although you can start your bed with seeds, if you start with one or two-year crowns, you will be able to enjoy eating asparagus a lot sooner. Male plants are more productive as they do not expend energy producing seeds.

2-year asparagus crowns from Gurney's.

How to Grow Starting with Crowns
Plant in the early spring. Pick a sunny area that has good drainage. A raised bed in perfect. 

Remove all weeds from the area and dig trenches about 6 inches wide and 12 to 18 inches deep. Fill with compost and rich topsoil and form mounds 15 to 18 inches apart. 

Place a crown on each mound, spreading the roots over the mound.

2-year crown on top of a mound.

Cover the crowns with two inches of soil and water thoroughly. Gradually fill the trench as the plants grow and the stems appear. When the trench is filled, add a thick layer of mulch and water regularly.

If you start with seeds or 1-year crowns, do not harvest the spears in the first year but let the asparagus go vegetative so that the crowns can get established. Cut down the dead foliage in the late fall. The second year, lightly harvest and only harvest spears that are thicker than a pencil. 

After the third year, a full crop can be harvested. If you plant 2-year crowns, it will still take 2 years to have a full harvest. Rodale's Organic Life warns that "a 2-year crown is not worth the added cost, tend to suffer more from transplant shock, and won't produce any faster." I still opted for 2-year crowns just in case they get a bit of an edge. We shall see!

Picture from Rodale's Organic Life.
 After harvesting, allow the ferns to grow which replenishes the nutrients in the soil for the following year's production.

Asparagus ferns -
Picture from Vegetable Gardener.

I'm super excited about adding this new vegetable to my garden and can't wait to see the first spear pop up!

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