Posted by Melissa Martin on 5/25/2019 to Gardening Know How
Growing asparagus is fairly easy, it just takes some time to establish a producing bed. You need at least 6 inches of airy soil and a 4-foot wide permanent bed for asparagus. There are a couple of different options to start with, either 1 or 2-year-old crowns or seeds. Asparagus is rich in fiber, vitamin c, b vitamins, calcium, and iron. It has so many nutrients, it would be silly not to grow this tasty vegetable! Since asparagus is a perennial plant, you only have to plant it once and it comes back year after year!
Type of Raised Bed
Asparagus loves the sun but will tolerate some shade. You’ll need 6 inches of light soil that warms up quickly to plant in. Since asparagus is an early spring vegetable, the soil will need to be put on top of the sprouting head to protect it when it frosts. That’s why we recommend the 4’x4’x14” raised bed for this vegetable. Asparagus can last 20 years, so you'll need a long lasting bed. Weeds can kill an asparagus bed, raised beds are easier to keep weed free, but make sure no weeds blow in. During the spring and fall, fertilize by top-dressing with a liquid fertilizer, like a compost tea. Side-dressing with a balanced fertilizer is another way to help your bed grow.
Planting and Harvesting
There are a few different ways on how to start growing asparagus. There are 1 and 2 years crowns that you can transfer but 1-year plants are your best bet. The 2-year plants do not transfer well. When starting from seeds the plants produce more but you have to weed out the female plants and it takes 3 years before you start seeing edible vegetation. To get just male plants you have to look at them under a magnifying glass when tiny flowers appear. Female plants have a 3 lobed pistils and the male blossoms are bigger and longer than the female. The next spring, the male crowns will have to be planted in their permanent bed. To plant asparagus crowns, first, you will need to soak the crowns in for 20 minutes. While the crowns soak, dig a trench 12'' wide and 6'' deep down the center of the prepared bed. Once the crowns are done soaking, place them in the trenches 1.5 to 2 feet apart then top them with 2 to 3 inches of soil. In two weeks, add another inch or two of soil. Continue adding soil periodically until the soil is slightly mounded above surface level to allow for settling. If starting from crowns, then it will be another 2 years before you can start picking fresh asparagus.
The asparagus needs to establish good strong roots for the first 2 years that they are in their permanent bed. Once the bed is established, you can start to harvest. When they are 3-years old, you can harvest the spears over a 4 week period. The next year you can pick the spears for about 8-weeks. Early in the spring, pick the 8-inch asparagus spears every 3rd day. Once it gets warm, harvest once a day to keep up with this fast-growing veggie. To pick, just snap off at soil level. Hand picking is the best way because using a knife can cause disease to spread. Continue picking until the top of the asparagus is the diameter of a pencil. At that point, let it go to fern to let it build strength for next spring. When summer is over, cut the fern-like foliage and lay it on the bed along with straw or other light mulch to protect from the harsh winters. In spring, before new growth, remove the fern-like foliage because it can carry diseases and pest eggs.