If you aren’t growing asparagus in your garden, it’s time start!
Few vegetable crops offer so much harvest with so little input. When planted correctly, a patch of asparagus can offer 15-20 years of production…all from one planting. That’s a lot of years of good eating!
This is possible because asparagus is perennial. That means you plant it once and it comes back each year. That’s pretty cool but it also means you should do a little planning before you plant. Here are a few things to consider.
Choosing a Location – Because your plants will be growing in the same place for up to 20 years, you should think about how your planting will impact your existing garden as well as your future landscape plans. It takes a couple of seasons to get your new plants up to full production, so you don’t want to have to remove them because of bad planning. Asparagus plants will grow up to about 4-6’ tall and almost as wide. Give them some room and site them correctly. You will be happy you did.
Think About Exposure – Asparagus wants lots of sun. Your spring harvest of spears is directly connected to how well your plants grew the previous season. Providing a sunny location allows your plants to grow their best, enabling vigorous spear growth in the spring That translates to an abundant harvest.
Decide How Many Crowns to Plant – With the more productive varieties we have available today, 5 crowns for each person is just about right. If you really love asparagus, aim for 10 per person. If you end up with too much, don’t worry. You’ll find that extra asparagus is a lot like extra tomatoes…it’s always easy to find a home for!
Improve the Soil – Pick areas with good soil but still take time to improve it before you plant. Keep in mind that you will be planting once and then hopefully harvesting for the next 20 years. Do what you can to improve the soil while you have the chance. Work generous amounts of compost into the ground. Use compost that you have made yourself or utilize some of the quality compost products we have available. Apply 2-4” over the planting site and then work deeply into the soil, incorporating down as deep as you can. You will be planting crowns 8-9” deep, so really get in there and dig!
Choose Your Varieties – We have four varieties of asparagus for you to choose from. All are very productive and disease resistant.
- Jersey Jewel – One of the earlier all-male ‘Jersey Hybrids’ from Rutgers University. Very productive with good flavor and great disease resistance.
- Jersey Knight – This is another all-male ‘Jersey Hybrid’. It is very productive with large green spears and good disease resistance.
- UC-157 – This is our most popular variety and has been for years. It has performed extremely well in Kansas gardens for decades. It is a heavy producer of high quality spears and can be harvested longer into higher temperatures, something that frequently impacts that latter end of the harvest season.
- Purple Passion – Spears of this variety are purple in color and noticeable sweeter, with a sugar content up to 20% higher than green varieties. It does produces fewer spears, but they will be much larger in diameter, making up for the difference. Because they produce fewer spears, this variety could be planted a little closer together, as close as 8-12”. This is our 2nd most popular variety.
Plant Your Crowns – You will be purchasing bare root asparagus crowns. They will look just like the one in the picture below. Plant your crowns about 8-9” deep, about 18-24” apart. If you’re planting your asparagus in a straight row, it may be easier to dig one long trench rather that lots of individual holes. Work in Fertilome Garden’s Special fertilizer following the label instructions found under “Root Crops” to the bottom of the hole.
Place the crown on a slight mound of soil, fanning the roots out, and then cover with soil. Fill the hole (or trench) up about half way, leaving the rest of the soil for use later. Water in your plants and then wait for new growth to emerge. Once the ferny tops have grown well beyond the hole, use the remaining soil to backfill the planting hole the rest of the way.
Mulch Your Plants – Once your crowns have been fully backfilled, top-dress the whole area with compost (about 1” deep) and then mulch to control weeds with Alfalfa Mulch or Pine Straw Mulch. Mulching will improve the yield in future years by eliminating a lot of annoying weed growth. It will also make your planting look nicer and as an added plus, it will provide a clean surface to walk on during the spring harvest when the soil can often be wet and muddy.
Let Your Plants Grow – Year one is all about getting your new asparagus plants established and growing strong. You won’t harvest any spears this first year. Just let your plants grow as much as they can, fertilizing and watering as needed to encourage good growth. You will be able to harvest lightly next spring and be in full production the following year.
Asparagus can offer years of eating enjoyment, but you have to plant if first. April is a prime month to set out new crowns, so come on out and get yours today!