How to Grow Asparagus: There is a reason why many of us turn to asparagus in the spring and summer months: it is one of the first harvests of the spring harvest, and the freshly picked spears are more tender and tasty during the growing season. In addition, this versatile green is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and iron, making it a healthy (and welcome) addition to any meal.
The idea of growing asparagus may be overwhelming, but it shouldn’t be: asparagus is a good starting point as it is one of the few perennial vegetables that grows fresh spears year after year with little space and effort. Although it takes three years to fully mature asparagus plants, it is worth it if you have an abundance of nutritious spears at your disposal.
Here you will find everything you need to know about growing asparagus, whether you start with seeds or spears.
How to grow asparagus from seeds
It takes patience to start your asparagus patch with seeds, but waiting longer has its advantages. Seed plants don’t suffer from transplant trauma like roots in kindergarten, and you can buy a whole pack of seeds for the same price you pay for an asparagus crown. Most seed-grown asparagus plants ultimately produce those that come from roots.
In northern climates, begin indoor seedling in late February or early March. Sow individual seeds in newspaper pots, place the pots in a sunny window, and use soil heat to keep the temperature of the mixture in the pots at 77ºF. When the seeds sprout, lower the temperature to 60 to 70ºF. Once the risk of frost is over, plant the seedlings (which should be about 1 foot tall) 2 to 3 inches deep in a crib.
When tiny flowers appear, watch them with a magnifying glass. Female flowers have well-developed, three-lobed pistils; male flowers are larger and longer than female flowers. Sort out all female plants. The following spring, you transplant the males into the permanent bed.
How to plant asparagus
Choose your asparagus bed carefully and prepare it – this harvest will take the same place for 20 years or more. It tolerates some shade, but full sun produces more vigorous plants and helps minimize disease. Asparagus is best suited for lighter soils that heat up quickly and drain well in spring. stagnant water quickly rots the roots.
Prepare a planting bed for your asparagus – simple raised beds work best – about 3 meters wide by removing all weeds and roots of several years and digging them in aged manure or compost.
Asparagus plants are single-housed, which means that every single asparagus plant is either male or female. Some asparagus varieties such as Jersey Knight and Jersey Giant all produce male or mainly male plants, making them more productive. Male plants provide more harvestable shoots because they don’t need to invest energy in seed production. Stick to a purely male asparagus variety if your main goal is high yield.
With a purely male variety, 25 plants are usually sufficient for a household of four people. Double this amount for standard varieties. (Enthusiastic asparagus lovers recommend triple these amounts.)
If you start asparagus with annual crowns, you have a year advantage overseed plants. While you may think that two-year crowns are a better option, they tend to suffer more from transplant shock and don’t produce faster than one-year crowns. Buy annual crowns in a reputable nursery that sells fresh, firm, and disease-free roots. Plant them immediately if possible; Otherwise, wrap them in slightly damp sphagnum moss until you’re ready to plant.
To plant asparagus crowns, dig trenches 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep (8 inches in sandy soil) in the middle of the prepared bed. Soak the crownsfor 20 minutes before planting. Place the crowns in the trenches 1½ to 2 feet apart. Cover them with 2 to 3 inches of soil. Add an inch or two of soil two weeks later. Add more soil at regular intervals until it is slightly above the surface so that it can settle.
How to mulch and water your asparagus plant
After removing any visible weeds, apply mulch to stifle any remaining weeds that compete with the young spears and reduce yields. Water regularly in the first two years after planting. As the asparagus ripens, it displaces most of the weeds and sends long, fleshy roots deep into the soil, so watering is less critical. Fertilize in spring and autumn by top dressing with liquid fertilizer (e.g. compost tea) or side dressing with a balanced fertilizer.
Leave winter dead foliage along with straw or other light mulch on the bed to protect winter. Remove and destroy the fern-like leaves before new growth occurs in the spring. It can harbor diseases and eggs from pests.
If you want to grow white asparagus, which has a slightly milder taste than green asparagus, blanch the spears by piling up earth or mulching over the bed before they appear.
How to harvest asparagus
Do not harvest asparagus spears in the first two years that the plants are in the permanent bed, as they have to put energy into the formation of deep roots. During the third season, pick the spears over a four-week period and extend your harvest to eight weeks by the fourth year. Harvest spears every third day in spring. When the weather warms up, you may need to pick your asparagus twice a day to keep up with production.
To harvest, cut asparagus spears with a sharp knife or break the spears with your fingers on or directly under the ground.
How to solve pest problems and bugs
Healthy asparagus leaves are necessary for good root and spear production. Asparagus beetles that chew on spears in spring and infest summer leaves are the most common problem. The 1/4 inch long, metallic blue-blackhave three white or yellow spots on the back. They lay dark eggs along the leaves that hatch into light gray or brown larvae with black heads and feet. Pick control by hand; Spray or dust heavily infested asparagus plants with one .
These methods also control the 12-spotted asparagus beetle, which is red-brown with six black spots on each wing cover. Asparagus miner is another leaf eater; it makes zigzag tunnels on the stems.
When your asparagus bed becomes infected with an illness Organisms, your best option is to start a new bed in a distant part of the garden with newly bought or grown plants.
If young spears turn brown and become soft or withered, they may have been injured. Cover the spears with or newspaper if freezing nights are predicted.