Guide to Growing Asparagus

Known for their delicious young shoots, the asparagus is one of the first crops that you can harvest during springtime. Planting and growing asparagus in your garden doesn’t just give you sustainable food; it also good for your health, too. This is because this vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Plus, freshly picked asparagus can be more tender and tasty compared to store-bought asparagus. That’s why in this article, we are going to give you a guide in growing asparagus so that you will never have to buy in a supermarket ever again.

Types of Asparagus

  • Green Asparagus – The green asparagus is considered to be the most common type of asparagus. They are less fibrous compared to the purple asparagus, and they tend to look slightly thinner. They obtain their green color because of the photosynthesis process. 
  • Purple Asparagus – This type of asparagus has a sweeter taste and a slightly thicker appearance compared to the white and green varieties. It has a purple color because it contains high levels of anthocyanins, which means they are high in antioxidants. 
  • White Asparagus –This type of asparagus is somewhat similar to the green asparagus when it comes to taste, size, and even texture. It has a white color because they tend to grow in the dark where they cannot photosynthesize. The white asparagus can be quite expensive compared to the other types because they only have limited supply. 

How to Plant Asparagus

When planting asparagus, the first thing you need to do is select and prepare the asparagus bed with care. This is because the same spot can be occupied by the plant for over 20 years or more. Asparagus can tolerate some shade. But planting them where they get full sun can give you more vigorous plants and will help minimize the threat of diseases. Keep in mind that asparagus tend to do best in lighter soils that can warm up quickly during spring and drain well. Having standing water in your asparagus bet can cause the roots to rot soon.

When it comes to preparing a bed for your asparagus, make sure that you will make a simple raised bed that’s about four feet wide. Remember to remove the perennial weeds, roots, and dig in plenty of compost or aged manure.

Asparagus are monoecious plants, which means each of them can be male or female asparagus. Other varieties of asparagus like Jersey Giant and Jersey Known can produce all-male asparagus plants, which makes them more productive. This is because male asparagus plants produce more harvestable shoots, and they don’t take too much energy and time when it comes to providing seeds. That’s why if having higher yield is your goal, then we suggest that you choose all-male asparagus.

If you start planting asparagus from one-year-old crowns, then you can expect that you will have a year’s head start compared to seed-grown plants. However, asparagus with a two-year-old top are not usually that great because they tend to suffer more from transplant shock. Which means they cannot produce as fast as a one-year-old asparagus plant can. If you have an asparagus crown already, make sure that you will plant them immediately or wrap them in slightly damp sphagnum moss until you’re ready to plant them.

When it comes to planting asparagus crowns, all you need to do is dig up at least 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep down the center of the bed that you prepared. The next thing you do is soak the crown in a compost tea for over twenty minutes before you start planting them. Place the asparagus crowns in the trenches and remember that you should keep them about ½ to 2 feet apart, then top them with two to three inches of soil. After two weeks, you can add another inch of soil. You can continue to add soil occasionally until you see it slightly mounded above the surface level.

Planting Asparagus from Seed

If you want to plant asparagus from seed, then you must have a lot of patience within you. But don’t you worry because seed-grown asparagus doesn’t suffer transplant trauma like nursery-grown roots asparagus do. You can buy a whole packet of asparagus seed for just the same prices as the asparagus crown. Almost all seed-grown asparagus plants out-produce the ones that started from the roots. Plus, growing your asparagus from seed also allows you to selectively discard female asparagus plants and start and all-male asparagus bet.

When planting asparagus from seed, all you have to do is to sow single seeds in newspaper pits and place them in a sunny window. After that, use the bottom heat to maintain the temperature within 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the frost has passed, you can plant the seedlings into 2-3 inches deep nursery bed.

When you see tiny flowers start to appear, we suggest that you observe them using a magnifying glass. Female asparagus have well-developed, three-lobed pistils. While male asparagus have blossoms that are longer and larger than female flowers. After that, weed out all the female plants. You can transplant the males to their permanent bet the following spring.

Harvesting Asparagus

Remember not to harvest asparagus spears during the first two years that the plants are in their permanent bed. This is because the asparagus need to establish deep roots. When you’re in the third season, we suggest that you should pick the asparagus spears over four weeks, and by the fourth year, you can extend your harvest to eight weeks.

During early spring, you can harvest asparagus spears every third day. So that when the weather warms, you can pick asparagus twice a day so you can keep up with its production.

When cutting asparagus spears, remember to use a sharp knife to snap off the spears at or right below ground level with your fingers.