Asparagus is packed with vitamin A, C, K, B6, folic acid, thiamine, and is notorious for making your urine smell funny. Asparagus is a popular vegetable in Europe and America because it easily absorbs the flavor of anything it is cooked with. Plus, it is versatile enough to be steamed, boiled, baked, or grilled. Asparagus commands respect and patience. Asparagus takes a minimum of 2 years to grow, with some varieties requiring up to 4 years before your first harvest. Your patience will be rewarded as it will keep producing year after year once it has reached maturity.
How to Plant Asparagus
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that requires full sun, neutral soil, and great water drainage. Asparagus can be planted from 1 year old pre-grown crowns or from seed. As expected, seed will take much longer. If you’re starting from seed, plant seeds a half inch deep with 6 inches of spacing between seeds. If you’re transplanting crowns, dig 6 to 8 inches deep and leave 18 inches between each crown. Add organic compost or worm casting to freshen the soil. Your asparagus can grow well in cool or warm climates. Recommended growing zones include zones 3-11.
It is important throughout the years of growth that your asparagus garden is properly weeded. Weeds will sap the nutrients out of the soil leaving little for the asparagus as it grows over a few years. Applying a layer of mulch throughout the asparagus garden should help suffocate the weeds.
Harvest your asparagus only after the plant is well established. It is important that the asparagus plant has a strong root system, built over years of growth. In the Autumn of the second year, trim away all the browning ferns of the asparagus. In your third year is when you will most likely be able to harvest. Once the asparagus spears are at least 8 inches, snap them off at ground level or cut with kitchen shears. It is important that you harvest the asparagus before it flowers. After harvesting do not remove the asparagus ferns as they help maintain the asparagus plant each season. After your first harvest, it is worth celebrating because now that your asparagus is established in the garden, it will continue to grow and produce asparagus for 15 to 30 years!
Asparagus does not store very long, so it is recommended that you consume them within 3 days of harvesting.
Asparagus Pests and Diseases
The largest cause for concern while growing asparagus are weeds. It is critical you keep your asparagus garden bed weed free. Utilize layers of mulch and hand pick weeds regularly.
Asparagus beetles can turn your spears brown and make them hook shaped. If you have an asparagus beetle infestation, dispose of the plant and soil where the eggs may have fallen.
Asparagus rust will cause concentric rings in yellow and orange. As the disease festers it will cause blisters that will turn brown or black. Applying copper-based fungicide should help if caught early. Typically, you will need to remove the plants to prevent spreading to other asparagus plants. Rust is normally caused by too much moisture, so make sure your asparagus is well drained and void of excess water.
Cutworms will cause wilting and, in some cases, cut the asparagus in half. Utilize neem oil and insecticidal soaps.
Fusarium crown rot is probably the worst-case scenario. This rot will cause your asparagus to change to a reddish-brown, wilt, and eventually rot. All plants infected with this fungus must be destroyed and you must avoid planting in the same location for 5 years to ensure future plantings do not become infected.
Managing Your Asparagus
Asparagus is a fun and versatile plant to add to any garden. While it does require patience, it will reward you for waiting. Track your asparagus garden with our Garden Manager. The Garden Manager allows you to upload photos and take notes, something that is critical to keeping track of a vegetable that takes North of 2 years to grow. Start tracking your asparagus garden today!