How To Plant Asparagus – 9 Simple Steps For Years Of Harvests
Asparagus is a common delicacy that can be found at many restaurants and farmers markets. Planting asparagus and growing it yourself will not only save you money, but you will you be able to enjoy that fresh-out-of-the-garden experience. Eating a few stalks right in the garden as you are harvesting is what gardening is all about!
Learning how to grow asparagus is fairly easy as the plant itself is not too picky. However, as with many perennial crops, you must be patient. It is not advisable to harvest any asparagus until the second spring after you planted. And this is if you planted one-year-old crowns. Planted asparagus seedlings that you germinated yourself will add another year before you can harvest. The good news is that, once established, asparagus will produce a full crop for at least 15 years and up to 20-25 years.
As long as you take care and learn how to plant asparagus properly, there is very little work for the years, and even decades, that the bed of asparagus will be producing stalks for you to harvest and eat. The following are the steps and tips involved for a successful asparagus planting:
- Choose a location that has good drainage, has a lot of sun, is weed free, and has a slightly high pH.
- While some shade is okay, full sun is recommended for asparagus. An adult plant grows thin fern-like foliage. In order to get energy from the sun it needs to get as much sunlight as possible. Although 8+ hours per day of sun is preferred, you can get by with 4-8 hours per day of direct sun.
- Asparagus does not like any competition. This is not just invading “weeds”, but this includes other vegetables and fruits in the garden, including other asparagus plants (this will be addressed later). Be sure that you keep up on your weeding. Ideally, you can plan your bed so that it is not on the outer edges of the garden so that weeds do not get as much of a chance to sneak in.
- Soil with a pH that is slightly over 7.0 is preferred. Add some lime to the soil if the pH is lower than 7.0.
- IMPORTANT: Choose a location that you will be happy with for many years. Remember that properly cared for asparagus will be providing a harvest for up 15 years or longer.
- Dig a trench in your garden.
- Depending on the variety of asparagus, this trench should be 5-6″ deep or around 12″ deep. Many of the varieties on the market now are of the “SuperMale” variety. These require to be buried only 5-6″ deep. Other varieties, such as Heirloom, Martha Washington, and Mary Washington require a depth of 12″. However, these varieties are become more and more rare.
- Apply superphosphate or triple superphosphate to the bottom of the trench. Use 1 pound of triple superphosphate or 2 pounds of superphosphate for every 50 feet.
- Adding phosphate to the soil will help increase the yield in future years.
- The phosphate will NOT burn the asparagus so do not cover it in the trench.
- Drop the asparagus crowns in the trench, on top of the phosphate.
- Again, don’t worry about the phosphate burning the crowns.
- Also, don’t worry about the direction of the crown or spreading out the roots.
- Keep each crown at least 18″ apart. As mentioned above, asparagus does not like competition and it is competition to itself. Give it plenty of room.
- Backfill the trench, covering the crowns.
- There is no need to worry about being delicate, just backfill.
- The soil level should be back to the original height as before you dug the trench.
- Do not compact the soil on top of the crowns.
- If you are not getting any rain soon after planting, water in the newly planted crowns.
- Asparagus can handle dry conditions, but when first planted the crowns should receive some water.
Overall, this is a fairly simple process, but there are a few unique planting features that make it necessary to learn how to plant asparagus properly – such as the higher pH and phosphate. Follow these 6 steps above and you will have a crop that will make your neighbors jealous.
Image by pamramsey via Flickr