I love asparagus and you have to understand that growing your own Asparagus is a commitment. So it took me a while to commit space in the garden too it. Asparagus is slow-growing and is perennial. Once asparagus is in place in the garden that is it – you are not moving it. And it can take up a lot of room too. It was a big decision to grow it but one I decided was worth it.
Growing your own Asparagus in the Organic Kitchen Garden.
Planting asparagus is like preparing for a show. Careful preparation is a must. It is the same with asparagus. Before you buy the plants, you need a prepared bed. Hopefully, this is the only time you’ll plant asparagus. How well you prepare the bed determines the performance of your asparagus patch for years to come.
You can plant asparagus in the ground, but it really thrives when planted in a raised bed. I have a raised bed I am dedicating to asparagus it is 2ft x 7ft so quite narrow and long and will contain 10 plants which is perfect for my family.
The bed has been filled with organic matter and compost and it weed-free ready for the asparagus.
Planting Your Asparagus
The most common way to plant asparagus crowns is in a trench. In the spring, dig a trench about 8-10 in. deep and 18-20 inches wide.
To plant the crowns, spread the roots of the crowns out on the bottom of the trench. Space plants about 12-15 inches apart, so they will have room to grow. Cover with a couple of inches of soil and water well.
As the plants begin to grow, continue covering them with soil, leaving only a few inches of the shoots exposed above ground. Do this until the trench is full.
You will not be harvesting them in the first year and it is best to spoil them a bit, give them a liquid feed of comfrey or seaweed and keep out the weeds.
Then all you need to do is be patient. The idea is to wait at least 2 seasons and probably 3 before harvesting. It may be hard to resist tasting the first spears to appear but go easy on the plants until they mature. You’ll be rewarded in the long run!
Once asparagus plants are strong enough to be harvested, cut all new shoots in spring when they are reaching between 5 and 7 inches tall, snapping them off at the soil line. Many old gardeners use a knife to cut below the soil line, but it is important to avoid cutting into emerging spears nearby. Also, the knife can spread any disease from one plant to the next.
Remember, if the spear has begun opening and developing foliage, it will be too tough to eat. To avoid this happening, plan to harvest at least every other day. Go ahead and pick all the spears each time you harvest. You will have to let them grow on if they get too large. Once the bed is well-established, harvesting can continue until the bed yields only skinny spears that are less than a half inch in diameter.
If your plants are young, the fresh asparagus season may last a couple of weeks. However, established plants can produce much longer, as much as 8 weeks. The old rule of thumb is to harvest until the diameter of the spear decreases to the size of a pencil. Then it is time to stop and let them grow, gaining strength for next spring.
Once the harvesting season has ended, which will be in late spring/early summer, allow the spears to develop naturally. They will grow 4ft to 6ft feet high, with lacy, light-green foliage. Keep the bed weeded, mulched and watered. The healthier the fronds, the more energy the plants will have for next year’s harvest. And once the foliage turns brown in Autumn you can cut it back to neaten the bed up.
Fresh asparagus spears can be stored a week or more. If you want to put some aside to enjoy in the months to come, blanch them in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, douse in cold water, wrap, and freeze.
Pests that can bother Asparagus
Slugs and snails These slimy gits browse growing tips, spoiling young spears. They are especially active at night and after rain. Learn how to stop slugs here
Asparagus beetle Adult beetles and their larvae strip the bark and foliage. If picking off does not resolve the problem, try a spray of natural pyrethroid insecticide which is made from the flowerheads of Pyrethrums. You can grow Pyrethrum daisies in your own garden to repel pests, and you can even harvest and dry the flowers to grind into your own insecticidal powder. They’re pretty plants, with lovely white or pink daisy blossoms with yellow centres.
Asparagus Varieties to try
Pacific Purple – Pacific Purple produces a bountiful harvest of very mild, sweet-tasting spears that are a delight to eat. The spears are thicker in diameter than green cultivars and their sugar content is 20% higher too!
Mondeo –is a male hybrid that is suitable for both spring and autumn planting. This versatile variety has created huge interest due to its impressive yields and quality, especially early in the season. The delicious spears have tight tips throughout the season, with excellent flavour and good disease resistance. Early season variety.
F1 Ariane – A first-class variety producing tall, slender, high-quality spears with tight green buds. And the flavour is superb!
Guelph Millennium – The tall foliage is extremely attractive, and the plants can be grown in a large container too!
Get your Quick grow guide to growing your own Asparagus here
I hope you enjoy these post and currently, I hope my asparagus survives the odd weather we have been having. If you liked this post try these posts
- Growing your own popcorn
- How to grow your own Lentils
- Growing Runner Beans in your garden
- Growing Courgettes – the How and the Why?
That is a just a sample of my many Organic Vegetable Gardening Posts on Snapshot and Snippets. Or Sign up for Snapshot and Snippets Newsletter and get Exclusive Garden Printable to help you plan your own garden this summer.
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