Asparagus is a perennial plant species. However, it is better known as a spring plant. It is a flowering plant and its young shoots are the edible parts that are consumed for a number of benefits.
Now, here’s everything you need to know about growing asparagus plant yourself, whether you start from seed or spear.
Though the asparagus plants take about two-in-a-half to three years to fully mature, it’ll be well worth it when you have a bunch of nutritious spears at your disposal.
It is rich in of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin E, beta-carotene and is a good source of dietary fiber. These components maintain their highly rich nutritious profile.
It also contains trace amounts of micro and macronutrients such as zinc, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, etc. that are beneficial for a healthy functioning body system.
It has considerably a high amount of the amino acid Asparagine from which its name has been derived.
This plant is native to Southern Africa and is cultivated and harvested worldwide for its broad range of usefulness.
Asparagus Growing Season
Asparagus, as mentioned in the beginning, is perennially present throughout the year. But according to farmers, spring is the optimum season and provides the best growing conditions for harvesting the plant.
It might also be possible to double harvest Asparagus during this season due to the huge production of spears as confirmed by them.
It is one of the earliest season plants to grow to post the winter gap. The best time period in which its production reaches the summit is between the months of February to June.
How to Grow Asparagus From Seed
Preparing the Bed for Asparagus Plant
The bed-making is the crucial step for planting anything. It is the sole foundation of your plant. The bed needs to be prepared with the utmost care obeying every method required for the successful establishment of the plant.
Asparagus does best in lighter soils that warm up quickly in spring and drain well; standing water will quickly rot the roots.
Prepare a planting bed for your asparagus —simple raised beds work best — that’s about 4 feet wide by removing all perennial weeds and roots and digging in aged manure or compost.
- The first and foremost step should be to get rid of all the weeds and start off with a clean and pathogen-free bed. You should also have a clear knowledge about the site of preparing the bed so that your plants are healthy, safe, and undisturbed.
- Back in the day, it was known to be a back-breaking task and demanded ample time and patience dig an 18” deep trench with a uniform width. The old asparagus varieties produce baby asparagus plants, which can compete for space and nutrients. So forget the old asparagus varieties. Most of the new hybrid varieties are also resistant to two common asparagus diseases: fusarium rot and asparagus rust.
- With the evolving agricultural technologies, new methods have been discovered in order to lessen the burden. Now, it is a well-developed practice to dig a shallower trench (6-12”) with a width of 12-18”.
- While preparing the bed, you need to pay attention to the variety of Asparagus that you want to choose to plant. Traditional wild varieties are more susceptible to plant diseases and require more nourishment and nutrients to grow than the newer transgenic ones. These modern varieties have an all-male feature and are, therefore, easier to grow a full production batch. This eliminates unwanted energy consumption for producing offsprings. Hence, go for the varieties Jersey Knight, Jersey Supreme, Jersey Giant, etc. for high yield.
- After you are done with these, soak the Asparagus crowns in lukewarm water for a brief period. Now, towards the center of the trench, place the crowns carefully.
- Lastly, cover the trench with a fertile mix of compost and soil so that the crowns are buried up to a few inches. Make sure to water the bed sufficiently.
- Henceforth you have to keep an eye for the spear to grow to a few inches tall. Add 2-4” of soil to the trench and wait till the spear grows taller. When it grows through the ridge, repeat the same step. Repeat the round till the trench is filled.
- If you want to opt for an easy and quick way, you can cover the trench all at once. As long as the soil is loose and it is easy for the spears to penetrate through the soil, it should not be a problem.
How to Plant Asparagus and In-Season Care
- As the crop will be harvested for 20 years, it is necessary to create permanent raised beds with ample sunlight with well-drained soil (pH 6-7). If the soil is nutrient-rich, then it’s a bonus.
- Asparagus prefers temperature between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit during daytime and 60-70 during the night. Soil temperatures during spring might reach 50 degrees. You can also assess the temperature by observing the phenotype of the plants (shoots will show discoloration if the temperature reaches subzero).
- The crowns should be planted roughly 18 inches apart. Before planting Asparagus in the ground, mark each planting point, and add compost along with a cup of rock phosphate at each of those points.
- Soak the crowns for 20 minutes in normal water before planting. After planting them on the designated spots, top them with 2-4” of soil.
- The top of the crown should stay 6” below the ground. Water well and let them grow for 2 weeks. Monitor them closely during this period.
- To grow them from seeds, (in case of the Northern Hemisphere climate) plant the seeds in late February or early March. Grow them in paper containers. Place the containers in a sunny window. Try to maintain the temperature at 77 degrees Fahrenheit until the seeds sprout.
- Decrease the temperature to 60-70 degrees and after some days transfer them to raised beds in the nursery.
In-Season Care of Asparagus Plant
- After two weeks, add another 1-2” of soil. Also, be very careful about the water level in the soil. Less water will dry them out and more water will rot them.
- Always keep your Asparagus plantation free from any perennial weeds or grass as emphasized earlier. If these get a chance to grow with your plants, you will not be able to revive a single Asparagus crown from that batch.
- You need to water them regularly for two-years. These are the initial times for your plants, gradually they will outgrow other plants with minimum nourishment.
- In order to keep your plantation safe from pathogens, you must remove fern-like foliage from your plantation. These can harbor insect eggs on the ventral surface which will destroy the mature Asparagus plants.
- You can support the winter-killed foliage with some straw to make them tall. This will also provide wind protection to younger crowns during the winter.
How Long Does it Take for Asparagus to Grow?
- They generally take around 2-3 seasons to mature after plantation.
- You can either plant seeds or one-year-old Asparagus crowns. Planting Asparagus crowns is better as it grows fast and gives new crowns in the next year and a half after acclimatizing to the new soil. Although two-year-old crowns should not be planted as they take a longer time to acclimatize and fail to withstand the transplant-shock.
How to Harvest Asparagus
- Do not harvest any spear in the first two seasons. During this time the plants spread their roots deeper through the plantation beds.
- Start harvesting from the third season in every 3-4 week intervals. Spears should be harvested when they are 5-7” in length and just before the tips begin to get loose.
- During the fourth season harvest in every 8 weeks. During spring, the temperatures get pretty warm in your garden, hence you might have to harvest twice a day to keep up with this production.
- To harvest the spikes, directly chop spears with a sharp knife at a right angle from the ground level to your hand. Don’t snip the shoot portion as it will damage the plant.
Twenty-five asparagus plants will yield more than enough for a family of four.