Unlike the rest of the garden, Asparagus is a perennial that you will only need to plant once. It is for this reason, that it should be planted in its own designated area. You will probably not be harvesting Asparagus the first year or possibly 2 that it is planted, as it must be mature before harvesting.
Climate and Preparation
Asparagus grows best in cooler climates where they can be allowed to go fully dormant in the winter. Zones from 8A and north are suitable for growing your Asparagus bed. Asparagus prefers a sunny area but can tolerate light shade. Since you will only have to amend this bed one time, be sure to do it right as your plants will reward you for it for years to come.
Soil preparation for your asparagus bed is best done the autumn before you plant in the spring. You will want to amend a nutrient rich, well drained bed. Mix organic material like leaves, garden soil and composted manure into the area. Like most other vegetables, asparagus prefers a soil pH around 6 to 6.5. Planting a cover crop in the fall like Annual Ryegrass will give your plot those extra nutrients in the spring once you till them into the soil.
Planting and Feeding
Like tomatoes, you will want to plant your asparagus plants about 2 inches deeper than they were originally grown. Check your last frost date and then plant your plants 2 weeks later to be safe. Plant your plants 12 to 18 inches apart and be sure to keep competing weeds out of the bed. Put down 2 inches of mulch to your bed to hold in moisture and to help prevent weeds. Fertilize your plants with Vigoro Vegetable Fertilizer every 2 months of growing season for best results.
Patience will help your bed mature beautifully and after 2 or 3 years your bed will be producing beautifully. Ten plants per asparagus lover in the family is recommended to keep everyone fed.
You will want to cut all new shoots in the spring once they have grown 8 inches tall by snapping them at the soil line. Do not wait until the spear starts developing foliage, as it will become too tough to eat. Plan your harvest every other day and remove the stocks that have grown too big to redirect nutrients. Young plants will bring you about 2 weeks of harvest time but as they mature you will see your harvest times go as high as 2 months.
Once the spears have decreased to the size of a pencil, it is time to stop harvesting and let them grow to prepare for the next spring. Once the frost has sent your plant into dormancy and the “fern” has turned brown, trim off any branches above 4 feet tall and keep competing weeds free from the bed.
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