Packed with calcium, iron, vitamins B and C, asparagus is one of the first crops that will greet you during the spring harvest. If you’ve got a green thumb and are curious about growing your own asparagus, here’s some tips to help you grow this perennial vegetable.
Here is everything you need to know about growing asparagus yourself.
When to Plant Asparagus
Asparagus is usually planted in the early spring, but can also be planted in the fall.
Location for Planting Area
Make sure you choose the spot you’ll be planting the asparagus in very carefully, as an asparagus patch can easily produce for 20-25 years. Ideally, the area should have exposure to sunlight and the soil should be light and should warm up quickly.
Also make sure you choose soil that drains well- if the soil holds water, it will tend to rot the roots of the plant very quickly. If you have raised beds, they are often the best places to plant asparagus. Make sure you remove all the weeds, and work in 2-4 inches of compost into the soil before you begin with the planting.
Seeds vs. Plants
As opposed to starting from seeds, it is usually a good idea to use one year-old asparagus crowns- they give you a good head start and you don’t have to wait longer for the harvest. Once you purchase the crowns, plant them immediately.
How to Plant the Crowns
Start by soaking the crowns in compost tea for around 20 minutes before you plant them- dig a trench 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep in the center of the raised bed, and then plant the crowns each at least 18 inches apart (up to 24 inches) with the buds pointing upwards. Layer them with 2-3 inches of soil.
Caring for the Asparagus Plants
The asparagus plant needs to be watered regularly, especially during the initial years, because that’s when they are gaining their strength. Every year, make sure you dress the top soil with compost or mulch to give the plant exactly what it needs. You can also give the plant some fertilizer in the mid-spring to keep it going.
Keep an eye out for weeds- they tend to interrupt the growth of the plant. Remove weeds whenever you spot them.
Harvesting & Storing
You may be tempted to, but make sure you do not harvest the asparagus spears in the first year, as the root system of the plant may not be developed that effectively. You can harvest spears during the second, or ideally, the third year, over a four week period, sometimes even sooner.
All you need is a sharp knife to cut off the spears, or you can even snap them offer right around the ground level with your fingers. Once the spears look similar to a pencil in terms of diameter, stop harvesting.
Remember that asparagus doesn’t stay for a longer time after the harvest, so make sure you consume it within 2-3 days after that. To store the spears, bundle them together and wrap their stem ends in a moist paper towel and then place them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator.
Easy Asparagus Recipes
Of course once you have grown and harvested all this lovely asparagus, you will need to prepare it. I have a few easy recipes for you.