JodiInVA-USA
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Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:16 am
Location: Northern Virginia - Zone 7a

New-to-asparagus growing question

Hi! Last spring I started veg gardening, including a raised bed of asparagus. I understood that I wouldn't harvest it to eat in the first year, or maybe two. I just read definitely not the first two - wait for third year. Here's my question: I already have really tall (even starting to fern) but very skinny stalks. I'm in the Washington, DC area and we've had a pretty cold winter and spring, so it caught me off guard to already see it up and so tall. Is this a good sign? A bad sign that it's still just as skinny as last year? Right on track, to hopefully give me a few weeks of good harvest next year?

Also, I planted about 24 crowns last year and there were about 7 that didn't make it so I've purchased 10 more crowns this spring that I plan to put into the empty spots as soon as I can make the time to get out there. Any problems with this plan, or advice for adding in? I figure if the bed goes for ~20 years, some of them playing one year of catch-up won't be so bad.

Finally, I planted them with about the spacing that I believe is recommended. I have a few extra crowns that I'm tempted to squeeze in. Is this a bad idea? Better to let each one have its full amount of space and just toss or give away a few extra crowns?

Thanks in advance for any advice and/or reassurances!

JodiInVA-USA
Full Member
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:16 am
Location: Northern Virginia - Zone 7a

Planting asparagus crowns

One more question to add to a few I posted a minute ago about asparagus...

Last year I read a suggestion to soak my asparagus crowns for a little while in compost tea before planting them. I did this. I now have a few new "fill in" crowns for the ones that didn't make it last year. But no compost tea at the moment, and very little time for gardening over the next couple weeks.

So here's my question: Better to delay planting until I can get my water rested (chlorine) 24 hours in its bucket, find compost, mix up the ingredients, wait for it to brew, etc. (could be a few weeks until I get around to it -- well into May -- or better to just find enough time to get out, dig some holes in the bed and get the crowns into the soil ASAP?

Is there any other treatment of crowns you recommend, that I might be able to do more quickly? Soak them in plain water? Or water with some kelp fertilizer (I do have a bit of that available now)? Other?

Thank you!

imafan26
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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: New-to-asparagus growing question

Asparagus ferns will grow over 6 ft here.

Yes, they do take a couple of years. The first year they will grow and have skinny stalks. The second year the stalks will be a little thicker. If they are thick enough in the second year to be as big as your middle finger you could harvest some of the shoots, but if you want a stronger plant, then wait another year.

Asparagus grows upward so you either traditionally grow them in a trench and fill the trench as it grows or you mound up every year. Remember to fertilize and add some some compost on top. 10-10-10 or any balanced fertilizer before emergence of the shoots in spring and after the last harvest or trimming of the fronds in the late summer or fall.

I do grow asparagus in Hawaii, it actually does well as long as it gets adequate water. My winter care will be different from yours.

I only cut my asparagus when it is time to harvest. If the stalks of the fern are 1/2 inch thick, I cut the tops down to the ground around March. Harvesting is twice a day until the stalks are about the size of a no. 2 pencil.

The fern is allowed to grow after that and I just use cotton string and stakes at the end of the rows to keep the fronds from lying on the ground. I only had 25 crowns so my row is not very long. More stakes would be needed for longer rows. I also have Mary Washington Asparagus, which I grew from seed. Very few places will send asparagus crowns now. Mary Washington has both male and female plants which will reseed. When I had enough plants, I pulled out the female ones, since they will seed all over the yard.

I grew mine traditionally, so I started with an 18 inch deep trench and gradually filled it as the crowns grew upward.

I never cut the fronds in summer since the roots are sensitive to sunburn.

I will get a second harvest around September (I don't get snow), you would get a harvest if your spears are big enough when you cut yours down for the winter.

Once the asparagus is over 3 years old, I get about 6 weeks to harvest, twice a day, twice a year.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: New-to-asparagus growing question

Hmmmm, I can only tell you what I do. Dig a trench about ten inches deep and 18 inches wide. Put in the crowns and spread the roots like the spokes on a wheel with the buds upwards. Cover about 3 inches. Wait until the fronds are well up before finishing filling in the trench. That will be a couple months down the road.

Asparagus is perennial and it can be a problem to keep the weeds out. By having the crowns low down one can lightly hoe the top early to get weeds.

Asparagus responds well to good fertile soil. Ya, it takes a couple of years to get good sized shoots.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

imafan26
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Posts: 11118
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: New-to-asparagus growing question

I mulched the trench to keep weeds down. Once the fronds are up it is easier to keep the weeds out. It is also easier to water asparagus in the trench.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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