Asparagus

290Native to the seacoast of Europe, North Africa and Asia, asparagus is a long-lived and dependable home garden vegetable. What a treat to grow it yourself! Growing asparagus is an excellent way to practice patience, patience and more patience. Asparagus plants take 2 to 3 years to come into full production but then furnish delicious and nutritious spears every spring for 10 to 15 years. Lucky you!

Growing Asparagus
Choose a sunny planting site that features good drainag e. If drainage is poor, asparagus can be planted in a raised bed that is at least 6 inches tall. Take loose compost or manure rich soil and make a trench that is at least 8 inches deep. Add E.B. Stone Organics Sure Start (or other transplant fertilizer) to the bottom of the trench and cover with 2 inches of soil. Place asparagus crowns 1 ft. apart in the trench with crowns facing up, taking care to spread the roots. Cover with 1 or 2 inches of soil.

As the young plants grow, begin to cover the crowns with soil. By the end of the first growing season, the soil in the trench should be level with the ground around it. Deeply water whenever the soil is dry at root depth. It will take some time until your delectable asparagus are ready for harvesting. Here’s a growing schedule: please don’t deviate!

Year 1: Do not harvest asparagus spears. In the fall when asparagus tops turn brown, do not cut them down. The top is what feeds the crown nutrients so that it will produce spears again in the spring.

Year 2: Lightly harvest the spears that are thicker than the width of a pencil.

Year 3: Enjoy!

Each fall: be careful to clean debris from asparagus beds to help get rid of overwintering asparagus beetles. Use row covers over beds in spring. If the beetles appear during cutting season, handpick them, or knock them off plants with water. Also: asparagus’ tall ferny foliage is ornamental, and a good backdrop for summer flowers.

Asparagus fact:
Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period.