Monday, September 9, 2013

How to Grow Asparagus

You might be asking yourself, why is he writing about asparagus now in the fall. Isn’t this something better for the spring? On the surface, writing about how to grow asparagus in the spring time might be a better fit, however, growing asparagus begins with proper soil amending in the fall. I’ll explain that in a little bit.

Asparagus can be prepared for consumption in so many ways and in fact asparagus does not have to be prepared at all, as asparagus tastes great freshly clipped from the garden. This perennial garden vegetable has but one draw back. When asparagus is grown directly from seeds, it takes about 3 years before it reaches maturity. While that might seem like a long time time, not to worry, asparagus has a lifespan of up to 20 years, although 15 is more likely.

Back to why we should prepare our asparagus in the fall. Asparagus loves acidic soil, and loves the soil to be loose down to as deep as eighteen inches. By continually working in compost in the fall months, your soil will be ready for asparagus in the springtime.

If you do not have 3 years to wait for asparagus to reach maturity, then you can always purchase asparagus crowns from a local home or garden center. You can usually get about a half dozen for just a few bucks. Well worth the investment. Just keep in mind, a part of your garden will be dedicated to asparagus for the next one to two decades. So choose your asparagus spot wisely.

Asparagus grows best when it gets eight hours of sunlight daily, but will do well in the 4 to 8 hour range. Asparagus loves water, so be sure to give them a good watering as often as possible.

If you are starting with seeds and plan to direct sow them into your garden bed, be sure not to plant them deeper than a half inch. If you are using asparagus crowns, then you should plant them eight to twelve inches deep. And regardless of whether you are using seeds or crowns, space them out at least eighteen inches. Your asparagus will spread to a degree.

Mary Washington and Jersey Hybrids are the most popular varieties, but there are a whole slew of choices out there.

Your asparagus will have a big need to be fertilized. This is due to the fact they are perennials. To make sure you are feeding your asparagus properly, feed it a steady stream of compost, and/or compost tea, throughout the year.

It is important to keep your asparagus beds weed free. To limit the amount of hand weeding you are going to have to do, I recommend laying down a few sheets of newspaper around your asparagus and covering with straw mulch. You will always have to hand pick some, but at least this will keep it to a minimum.

To make sure your asparagus makes it through the winter, cut back the ferns, throw them in your compost pile, and layer on some compost and straw.

By year 3 you should have nice, thick stalks of asparagus ready to be eaten. Asparagus tastes great if consumed within 30 minutes after harvesting.

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