Growing your own asparagus is a rewarding experience that can save you money and provide you with a healthy, delicious vegetable. However, it can also be challenging, as asparagus requires specific conditions and care to thrive. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to successfully grow asparagus in your own backyard.
Types of Asparagus
There are two types of asparagus: green and white. Green asparagus is the most common and is grown in the presence of sunlight, while white asparagus is grown without sunlight and is covered with soil as it grows to prevent photosynthesis. White asparagus has a more delicate flavor and is often more expensive than green asparagus.
Green Asparagus Varieties
There are several varieties of green asparagus to choose from, including:
|Mary Washington||A popular variety that is disease-resistant and produces large, flavorful spears.|
|UC 157||Another disease-resistant variety that produces high yields of thick, tender spears.|
|Jersey Giant||A newer variety that produces large, uniform spears with a mild flavor.|
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, meaning it will come back year after year if planted and cared for correctly. Here’s how to plant your asparagus:
Step 1: Choose a Location
Asparagus prefers a sunny location with well-draining soil. The soil should be neutral to slightly acidic, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Asparagus plants also need good air circulation to prevent disease, so choose a location with plenty of space.
Step 2: Prepare the Soil
The soil should be worked to a depth of at least 12 inches and enriched with organic matter, such as compost or aged manure. Asparagus plants require a lot of nutrients, so it’s important to prepare the soil well before planting.
Step 3: Plant the Crowns
Asparagus is grown from crowns, which are the root systems of mature plants. Plant the crowns in spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. Dig trenches that are 6 inches deep and 12 inches wide, spacing them 18 inches apart. Place each crown in the trench with the buds facing up, and cover with 2-3 inches of soil.
Step 4: Water and Mulch
Water the newly planted crowns well, and cover with a layer of mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds. As the plants grow, gradually fill in the trenches with soil until they are level with the rest of the garden bed.
Caring for Asparagus Plants
Asparagus plants require regular care to produce healthy, delicious spears year after year. Here’s what you need to know:
Asparagus plants require regular fertilization to maintain their nutrient levels. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 blend, in early spring before the spears emerge.
Asparagus plants require consistent watering throughout the growing season. Water deeply once a week, or more often if the soil is dry or the weather is hot.
Asparagus can be harvested in the second or third year after planting, once the plants are mature enough to produce spears. Cut the spears at ground level when they are 6-8 inches tall and about as thick as your finger. Harvest for 3-4 weeks, then stop and allow the plants to grow foliage to replenish their energy stores.
Asparagus plants go dormant in the winter and require some care to prepare for the next growing season. Cut back the foliage after the first frost, and cover the bed with a layer of mulch to protect the crowns from freezing temperatures.
Q: How deep should I plant asparagus crowns?
A: Asparagus crowns should be planted 6 inches deep.
Q: How far apart should I space asparagus crowns?
A: Asparagus crowns should be spaced 18 inches apart in rows that are 3-4 feet apart.
Q: Do I need to add sand to my soil to grow asparagus?
A: Asparagus prefers a soil that is well-draining but does not require sand to grow. The soil should be prepared with organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to improve its structure and nutrient content.
Q: Can I grow asparagus in a container?
A: Asparagus can be grown in a large container, but it will require more frequent watering and fertilization than plants grown in the ground.
Q: How long does it take for asparagus to grow to maturity?
A: Asparagus plants typically take 2-3 years to reach maturity and produce a full harvest.
Q: Can I grow asparagus from seeds?
A: Asparagus can be grown from seeds, but it takes longer and is less reliable than growing from crowns.
Q: How can I tell if my soil is acidic or alkaline?
A: You can test your soil’s pH level with a soil test kit, which is available at most garden centers and hardware stores.
Q: How many asparagus plants do I need?
A: Plan for about 5-10 asparagus plants per person for a steady supply throughout the growing season.
Q: Can I harvest asparagus in the first year?
A: It’s best to wait until the second or third year to start harvesting asparagus, as immature plants may not produce enough spears to sustain growth.
Q: How do I know when to stop harvesting asparagus?
A: Stop harvesting asparagus when the spears begin to thin out and become smaller, usually after 3-4 weeks of harvest.
Q: How do I store fresh asparagus?
A: Store fresh asparagus in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel, for up to 5 days.
Q: How do I prepare asparagus for cooking?
A: Wash asparagus spears and snap off the tough ends. You can steam, boil, grill, or roast asparagus for a delicious side dish.
Q: Can I freeze asparagus?
A: Yes, you can blanch and freeze asparagus for later use.
Growing asparagus is a rewarding and challenging experience that requires patience and care. With the right conditions and proper care, you can enjoy a healthy, delicious vegetable that will come back year after year. Use the tips and advice in this guide to start your own asparagus garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Remember, growing asparagus takes time and effort, but the payoff is worth it. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, there’s no better time to start growing your own asparagus.
So go ahead, plant those crowns, fertilize, water, and harvest. In no time, you’ll be enjoying fresh, homegrown asparagus on your dinner plate!
We hope this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to grow asparagus. While we have tried to provide accurate and up-to-date information, gardening can be a complex and ever-changing field. It’s always a good idea to consult with a professional gardener or horticulturist for specific advice and recommendations.