Growing Asparagus

This is an expensive and tasty vegetable that is the first to produce in early spring. Ideas on growing your own, may spark the interest it takes to begin this task and enjoy this vegetable for many years grown in your own garden.

This well-known perennial vegetable gives the first taste of homegrown vegetables for the season. It peeks it green head out of the soil early in the spring whetting our appetite for the first delicious vegetables harvested in the season. It is expensive in the market consequently, to be able to grow your own and relish its delightful taste, as much as you want, is a great advantage. Once stable this vegetable will last many years, you will want to choose the variety and prepare the bed very carefully for long term enjoyment.

Asparagus rust was in the past a disease that particularly affected this vegetable. The varieties from the improved species of Mary Washington, such as Waltham and Roberts show good resistance to this disease. Check with your garden retailer for the bands suitable to your zone and the different varieties available.

The dispersal of male and female plants in the asparagus family is about uniform. The male plant produces more; by up to 40%, however female plants grow larger spears. Female plants bear seeds that are considered "invasive plants" in the garden. There is an "all male" category developed, said to produce more than the mixed male and female plants.

Asparagus needs a sunny area (at least 4-6 hours) with highly organic soil, and well drained. It is long lasting will return each year so and should be considered a permanent part of your garden area. Therefore, the plantings will need to be in an area that is "out of the way" of your normal gardening activities.

Prepare the bed for planting asparagus in the fall. Soil pH factor should be at least 6.5; you may add lime to raise this factor. To determine your soil pH level check with your local college extension center. The soil will need to be loosened to at least 12 inches. Asparagus roots very deeply and will need this much depth to establish well. Add manure, or compost with lime and fertilizer.

Asparagus can be started from seed; it will take about 6 weeks to sprout. Transplant the seedlings to garden in early spring. It is easy and most common; to buy plants to set out in your garden. You purchase "crowns" the one year old is the most economical to buy and will produce comparatively as well as the two year crowns.



- Rows should be up 6 ft apart, and the crowns planted 16 inches apart.

- Place the crowns 4-6 inches into the trench (row).

- Cover crowns with soil and do not tamp down. Add soil to the furrow as the shoots begin to push their heads out of the soil. Do not totally bury the emerging plant.

- About half way throughout the planting season, this will form a crest of about 5-6 inches high and up to 2 feet wide over the crown tips. Keep this ridge during the duration of the planting process

- If your soil is heavy with clay, you may gain some edge by creating raised beds for your asparagus.

- Traditionally is recommended not to harvest until the third year after planting. Check for suggestions on harvesting in your area, at your local extension service or garden supply retailer.

Feed your asparagus.

Fertilize each year to keep vigorous plants, after harvest with 5-10-10 according to directions. Fertilizing promotes fern growth, which store food for the following season's crop. Well rotted manure works well as an alternative. In early spring-clean up stalks from last season and then hoe or cultivate around the plants. Mulching is a good way to control weeds or simply hoeing. Limit herbicide usage.

Harvest.

Harvest about every other day when spears begin to develop and grow to 6 inches or more high. Snap the spears off at or near the ground level. Harvest early in the morning if possible.

Bugs

Beetles, both spotted and the asparagus beetle is damaging to asparagus. This beetle winters in trash around the garden area. When the spears emerge in spring the adults will attack and feed upon the new spears. Handpick the adults before eggs are laid. If damage has occurred, you can spray with the chemical Seven. Use caution and follow label instructions.

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