Growing AsparagusApril 2, 2013 12:00 am
Choosing a site:
Asparagus does well on mineral soils with plenty of lime and bone meal to sweeten the soil. If an asparagus bed is made up of organic matter, it is best to install the bed a few months prior to planting. Installing the bed in the fall and planting in the spring would be ideal, but not essential.
The most efficient way to grow asparagus is to plant them in rows 4-6ft apart. Dig a trench one foot wide and 8-10 inches deep. Fill the trench with 2-4 inches of organic matter (This can be ground bark, decomposed leaves, or well rotted manure). Cultivate the organic matter into the bottom of the trench. Fill the trench with water to soak the soil thoroughly. When the trench is no longer muddy, set the roots so that the tops (crowns) are 6-8 inches below ground level and not touching. Cover the crowns with 2 inches of loose soil. Be sure to water to dampen new soil and roots.
In the spring when growth starts and skinny shoots (spears) appear, gradually fill in the trench until the shoots are at ground level. Never cover the tops of theses shoots.
If you have an area with slow drainage, there is a danger that that roots may rot. In this case work organic material into the soil about a foot deep and plant roots 1-2 inches deep. Next fall cover with 2 inches of soil and do the same the following year. The roots will then be covered with 5-6 inches of soil. Using this method, you will have to put board or raised beds around the rows or gently slope soil up to raised beds.
After Planting Care and Harvesting:
Feed with a complete fertilizer high in nitrogen when the plants put on a growth spurt in mid-summer. Don’t harvest the first year. The second spring you can harvest 2-3 weeks until the spears become skinny. It is important to leave some spears on so they can become ferny stalks. These encourage the roots to build up a supply of food for next year. Keep watering after harvest until fall when the top growth browns, then cut back to ground. Third year harvest can last 8-12 weeks. Always cut asparagus below ground level but at least two inches above the crown. The stalk should easily snap off in the prime location for harvest.