Asparagus is a perennial that yield a delicious and easy crop that can last for many years.
We will show you that these little spears are not as intimidating as they may seem.
Asparagus thrives in the Pacific Northwest's cool climate. The young stems will emerge as the soil temperature rises in the springtime, however try not to eat it quite yet.
Asparagus is definitely the plant for the patient gardener. It can take 2-3 years to produce its first crop, but once established, it can produce a harvest for decades. They produce delicious shoots, with new spears crowing every few days for a week in spring.
Each individual plant can produce about a half pound of crop a year, so plan on planting about 5-10 plants per row, depending on how much you would like to produce.
Time to Plant!
Plant your crowns in the early spring, with fertile, well drained soil. When choosing a site to plant, remember that this is a well-established harvestable that will remain long-term, and thus should be in a location that can be long-lasting and comfortable for it to thrive. Make sure to weed your planting site, dig it over and work in a 2-4 inch later of compost or soil mix. The soil should be loose for about 12- 15 inches down to allow asparagus to root properly and not be disturbed. Asparagus do not like having their feet wet. If you do not have a site with good drainage, we suggest growing in a raised bed.
Let's Dig a Trench!
Asparugus need to be planted in trenches as the roots will be spreading horizontally and vertically.
1. Dig a drench about 12 to 18 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches deep. When growing multiple crowns, space your trenches at least 3 feet apart.
2. Make a ridge of soil in the center of the trench and place the crowns on top of the mound, spreading their roots evenly. Your crowns should be 12 to 18" apart within the trench.
3. Fill your trench only to cover the tips of the crowns with an inch of soil. It is vital to have 2-3 inches of the trench left unfilled. Water and leave as the season progresses.
4. When the spears grow through their layer, about 2 to 3 inches tall, add 2 more inches of soil to the trench, not burying the spears completely. Once they grow through the layer again, keep adding an additional layer of soil 2 inches tall, and continue the cycle until the trench is full at ground level. At the end, mound your soil slightly to protect them from rotting in heavy and moist soil. Water thoroughly after planting.
Water Asparagus regularly, they prefer an even moisture level throughout the season. You can apply a layer of mulch (4-6 inches) in the late summer of the first yea. Once established, keep the patch mulched with fresh compostin the spring and fall to keep the weeds down This will also help the soil stay loose and healthy.
Weeds will be your Asparagus's biggest adversary. Hand pull regularly through spring and summertime. You could provide 4 to 6 inches of straw in the summertime to cull weeds in established beds.
Again, do not harvest during the first couple of seasons. After about 2-3 years, harvest is a wonderful and exciting chapter!
For young plants, expect your season to last about 2 to 3 weeks, established plants have the advantage of growing for up to 8 weeks. Check your plant every other day for harvest-ready spears. They are harvestable when they reach about 8 to 10 inches in height and between 1/2 and 3/4 inches thick. However, if you like asparagus that is more tender, it's okay to harvest them if they are smaller in diameter.
To harvest asparagus, you can cut the spears with a sharp knife or scissors at ground level.
(You'll know when to stop harvesting spears when the diameter of the spears decreases to the size of a pencil over time). Always leave at least two or three spears on the plant through the growing season.
After harvest, fertilize your asparagus in the early summer. You can top-dress with a balanced organic fertilizer, or scatter another inch of rich, weed-free compost over the decomposing mulch.
DON'T cut down the remaining ferns in summer or you will ruin your asparagus bed. You must allow the ferns to grow and mature, for it replenishes the nutrients for next year’s spear production.
Only cut back asparagus ferns AFTER the foliage has died back and turned brown or yellow. This is usually in early winter after several hard freezes. Cut the ferns back to the ground.
Asparagus does not keep for very long after it’s picked, so be sure to eat it within two or three days from harvest. Brush off any visible dirt or give the spears a light washing with cold water before storing. It’s very important to dry washed spears thoroughly, we don't want mold!
To store, There are two methods you can use.
First, bundle the spears together, wrap the stem ends of the spears in a moist paper towel, and place the bundle in a plastic bag. Store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
If you have enough space in your fridge, you can also also store asparagus by placing the spears in a cup of water. Keep about an inch of clean water in the cup.
Asparagus is a fun and simple vegetable to grow for the summertime. Our speciality is the Jersey Supreme Bare Root Variety, which we carry in our Farmer's Market stand located near the entrance. You can see our assortment of other bare root plants located on our website at the link below: https://www.garden-spot.com/rootplants
How do you like to cook your asparagus? Let us know in the comments!