Growing Asparagus - How
to Grow Asparagus from either Seed or Crowns
Harvested Asparagus Spears
Growing asparagus is easier than you
think with these simple tips on how to grow asparagus from seeds or
crowns right in your own
backyards. By good soil preparation and care, you can harvest asparagus
for more than 20 years. One family I knew was harvesting from the same
plants 50 years on! Asparagus growing isn't difficult, but you do have
to be patient.
Like growing rhubarb
, growing asparagus
is also a perennial and it does take a while before you can harvest
your first crop and
really you won't have a good harvest until your plants have been
growing for at least 4-5 years.
to plant vegetables
, as well as during the
month for planting
by the moon
high quality strains of asparagus are available from local nurseries
and from mail order specialists. You can buy one or two year old
plants. But buy those that plants only if they are fresh, with crowns
showing signs of life and with almost pencil-thick roots which are
crisp and brittle, not limp and rubbery.
It is sometimes
difficult to buy fresh, top quality asparagus plants, and so therefore
you may wish to buy asparagus seed to grow plants in a seed bed before
moving them to the production beds.
HOW MANY ASPARAGUS PLANTS FOR A FAMILY ?
each family member plant 10 plants. Ideally, no cutting should take
place until the 3rd spring. Plants will take 5 years before they are in
full production. If you have set out your beds well from the beginning,
as mentioned earlier, you will be able to harvest asparagus for 20
years or more from the same plants.
BEST GROWING CONDITIONS FOR ASPARAGUS
Growing asparagus from either asparagus seeds or asparagus crowns
that your climate should be in an area where the winters are cold and
the summers are hot, although it dislikes heavy frosts. They love free
draining, light soil that has had generous quantities of organic matter
added before planting. The soil should have a pH value of 6.5 - 7.
higher than this and you should add lime to your soil to get the pH
level right. They like an open and sunny site which is preferably
north-facing and protected from strong winds.
GROWING ASPARAGUS AND PLANTING
When growing asparagus your plants can either be raised from seed
or from crowns purchased from a commercial supplier. When you raise
asparagus from seed you should allow them to grow there until they die
down at the beginning of their second winter. After that they can then
be dug out, and removed to their permanent positions as young crowns.
Since the male plants are more
productive than the female plants, it is wise to remove these as soon
as they are identified as female and replant male crowns in their
GROWING ASPARAGUS AND USING SEED
Both asparagus seeds and crowns can be planted in
late winter or early spring when the frosts have finished. If growing
asparagus from seed, germinate the seeds first in a seedling tray in a
warm and protected area like a hothouse or a cold-frame.
Keep the seedlings moist and be patient
as they may take some time to shoot. When growing asparagus from seed
in this way, they can remain where they are for the first 2 years
before they are transplanted out as they will not produce any spears
In order to speed the process of
germination soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting.
you do plant seeds, during the 18 months to 2 year growth period
discard those plants which produce berries, because shoots of
female plants are slender and tough. If you sow seed in spring, plants
can be moved to the production beds a year from the following fall.
GROWING ASPARAGUS AND USING CROWNS
When you buy asparagus crowns that are
already 2 years old it will give you a crop a lot faster. Prepare the
soil but digging a trench in the bed to a depth of 30 cm and place the
crowns 30-45 cm apart.
Surround your asparagus crowns with well-rotted manure
and a good, light soil allowing for the shoots to push through easily.
The crowns should be
buried about 7.5
- 12 cm under the soil. However,
make sure that your soil is warm and that you don't over water the soil
so that the crowns rot.
Cover the asparagus crowns after you have set them out with the thick
spread horizontally around each crown. The cover them with remaining
Leave 30-45 cm between
ideally 1.2 meters
although if space is a problem you can
space the rows closer together without too much of a problem at 60 cm.
Water well while growing asparagus and
plants grow, more manure and soil should be added to the plants until
the soil is level with the surrounding ground. By continuing to hill
the soil around the asparagus plants in the early spring the shoots
will have to
push through about 15 cm of soil. At the time of harvest the stems will
be largely white rather than the green stems that will emerge if you
don't hill the soil.
GROWING ASPARAGUS AND THE RIGHT CULTIVATION
For the first two years of your plants'
lives there won't be too much foliage to worry about. However, when it
does start appearing, don't cut it as this will affect abundance of
crop. Cutting the foliage can only be done in the winter when the plant
Continue to keep the asparagus beds moist making
sure that they never dry out. Any weeds that appear should be removed
by hand so as not to damage the shoots in any way.
Every year, during spring, when growing
asparagus it should be fed with a good fertilizer such as seaweed, and
the autumn the soil should be mulched with a good layer of well-rotted
manure which should be watered in well.
During autumn or winter when the
foliage has turned yellow it can be cut down to within 3 inches of the
ground. Make sure that the foliage is cut down before the berries start
dropping to the ground. If they have already done so these should be
removed by hand to prevent them from germinating.
raking will destroy germinating weed seeds. Plan to fertilize asparagus
beds in late spring, after cutting stops, and again in midsummer, with
a high nitrogen fertilizer like seaweed.
If you are able,
in early summer, always apply a deep mulch of barnyard
rake into broad mounds over the rows after the tops have been cut down
in the fall.
ASPARAGUS GROWING TIPS AND KNOW WHEN TO
you wish to have thick spears make sure that the ground is well-manured
and trample the earth down every day. This prevents the asparagus from
coming up too quickly.
Asparagus should not be harvested in
the first season after planting out the crowns. In the second spring
they should only be picked for 3-4 weeks after the spears first appear,
and then very sparingly. In fact it would be best if you only picked
one spear off each crown during this season.
When the plants are 4
years old you
extend the harvesting season to 4 weeks of the year.
When the plants have reached maturity
in year 5, and thereafter, the spears
can be picked for 6-8 weeks
during the season.
Cut the asparagus spears with a curved knife
about 3 inches below the surface when the spears are about 5 inches
long. These will be tender and succulent. If you leave them any longer
you will risk them being very woody.
Always stop cutting in late spring so
as to allow the plants to rest. The new asparagus spears which appear
end of the cutting season in spring are allowed to develop fully, the
stems being cut off at ground level and removed in late autumn after
they have died back.
Growing asparagus takes great patience
and it is not a quick cropping vegetable like radishes or rocket.
However, if you learn how to grow asparagus properly, and take care
with soil preparation and growing asparagus according to our
guidelines, your patience will be justly rewarded for many years to
Questions and Answers for Asparagus
Q. What causes my asparagus spears to have loose heads?
A. When the weather turns hot, the growing point expands
rapidly and the bracts (modified green leaves) are spread by the early
development of the stems and ferns. The asparagus is safe to eat
because only the appearance is affected.
Q. Early spring freezes caused the asparagus
spears in my garden to turn brown and wither. Are they safe to eat?
A. Frozen tips should be picked and thrown away. These spears,
although not poisonous, are off-flavor.
Q. Can I start asparagus from seed?
A. Yes. You can grow your own asparagus plants by
planting seeds 1/2
inch deep and 2 inches apart in the row. Start the seeds in the spring
when the soil temperatures have reached 60ºF. Dig the plants the
following spring, before growth begins and transplant them to the
permanent bed as soon as the garden can be worked. Growing your own
plants delays establishment of your bed an additional year, but it
ensures that you are starting with freshly dug crowns that have not
lost vigor by being dug, stored and shipped. Also, variety selection is
usually much greater when shopping for seeds rather than crowns.
Q. What causes crooked spears?
A. Asparagus spears grow quickly and are sensitive to
mechanical injury from cultivation or cutting tools, insects or
wind-blown soil particles. Injured areas grow slowly so that the rapid
growth on the opposite side causes spears to curve toward the injured
side. The cause of flattened (faciated) spears is unknown.
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