If you haven’t already, think about growing asparagus in the backyard.
A well developed asparagus patch will provide fresh asparagus shoots in the early spring for over 20 years if maintained.
Learning how to grow asparagus is a good return on your time and money.
Asparagus roots are affordable and multiply each year. The edible portion of the asparagus plant is the young shoots that emerge in the early spring.
Growing asparagus likes cool summers and moist soil, there is a reason wild asparagus grows along ditch banks. The northern states where the winters allow asparagus a dormant season is ideal.
Asparagus roots gain strength during the dormant winters when the tops die back.
Asparagus does not do as well in areas of the country where summers are hot and winters are mild. Once asparagus is established, young shoots can be harvested 4 to 6 weeks in the spring depending on the location.
Your growing asparagus bed may be started from seed or asparagus roots or crowns that can be bought from your local nursery or online. One year old crowns are sold bare root and are easy to plant in the home garden.
Growing asparagus from seeds can take an extra 1-3 years before you’re able to harvest asparagus shoots. Asparagus seeds are started in the winter indoors in flats or containers and the plants are planted outside in the spring after all danger of frosts has past.
The young asparagus plants are left to grow for another year. The second year you can transplant the asparagus into a permanent location.
The most popular non hybrid asparagus is Mary Washington.
You will have light cuttings after 2 years and regular cuttings after 3
years from seed plantings. Mary Washington is grown through out the
United States and is resistant to rust. Grow in zone 3 thru 9.
is very productive and grows well in all soil types including clay
soils. Jersey knight is a disease resistant hybrid which can be bought
in bare root crowns that are planted in the spring. Grow in zones 3 thru
Asparagus has a beautiful purple color and looks great in the garden. Turns green after it’s cooked and sweeter than the green varieties. Available in bare root crowns to plant in the spring. Grow in zones 2 thru 9.
Preparing Asparagus Beds
Choose a sunny location in your yard or garden. This will be permanent so choose a good location. Choose an area at the end of the garden or along a fence line. A raised bed will be a great place to have an asparagus bed.
Take time to prepare your asparagus bed as it will be there for many years. Clear out all weeds and grasses. Add compost and composted manure to enrich the soil. A good garden fertilizer 10-10-10 added to the soil helps get asparagus crowns off to a good start.
Asparagus plants need a soil rich in nutrients that hold moisture and drains well so the roots are not soggy.
After your bed is prepared, lay the asparagus crowns on the ground and arrange where you want them planted. Check the between the distance between the crowns with a ruler or measuring tape.
Dig holes or a trench 8 to 10 inches deep and 12 to 16 inches apart. Lay the asparagus crowns horizontal in the hole or trench. Cover the asparagus crowns with soil about 3 inches deep. Water lightly.
As the asparagus begins to grow, continue to fill in the hole or trench with soil. Stop filling the hole with soil when the soil reaches ground level. To maintain even moisture in the soil mulch around the asparagus plants. This will help keep moisture in the soil. Fill the soil as the shoot grows until the soil is even with the rest of your garden again.
Caring for Growing Asparagus
Weeds can take over asparagus beds so keeping ahead of weeds when they are small helps keep weeds under control.
Careful not to disturb asparagus roots by shallow cultivation. Mulching can help keep weeds under control as well.
Let asparagus plants grow for the first two years undisturbed. The third season you can start harvesting shoots in the spring for a couple of weeks.
By the fourth season and forward you can start harvesting asparagus shoots 4 to 6 weeks in the spring.
Harvest young shoots in the morning before they get tough in the heat of the day. Continue pulling shoots until harvest period is over. 4 to 6 weeks.
Harvest asparagus shoots when they reach 4 to 8 inches tall before the scales on the tops open up. Using a knife to cut shoots can damage shoots that haven’t emerged yet. Hold asparagus shoot by your hand and brake shoot off.
After the harvest period in the early spring let the plants grow freely all summer. In the fall when the frost kills the asparagus plant, bend down plants and let them mulch all winter. Add a layer of straw or compost in the fall to protect and enrich the soil during the winter.
Asparagus is a great perennial vegetable you’ll enjoy for years each spring.
Asparagus shoot emerging from the soil.
Everyday Vegetable Garden