Growing Asparagus

France’s King Louis XIV dubbed asparagus the “king of vegetables” (or the “food of kings” depending on who tells the story) and was the first to have them cultivated in greenhouses so he could enjoy it throughout the year.

You too can have a great harvest by following some simple planting and  harvesting tips.

 

asparagus

Planting

Asparagus is best planted as one-year-old crowns.

In our area, mid-April to late May is the appropriate time to install asparagus beds, once the soil is at least 50 degrees or more. Growth will not only stall when planted earlier, but also the crowns are more susceptible to rotting if exposed to the cold, wet soils of spring.

A well draining bed is a must for growing healthy asparagus.

Dig a 6-Inch furrow and add a layer of starter fertilizer to the bottom of the furrow. We recommend using Bower & Branch Elements Fertilizer.

Lay the asparagus crowns in the furrow and back fill to the original soil level.

 

Harvesting

Do not harvest the planting year, but cut in following seasons when the width of the emerging stalks are larger than a pencil diameter.

Harvest in the morning when air temperatures are cooler and when spears are 7 to 9 inches tall. Selecting firm, crisp spears with compact tips and tight scales.

Length of harvest season will vary from year-to-year depending on air temperature, stop the harvest when the diameter of 3/4 of the spears becomes small (less then 3/8 inch).

When harvest season is finished, snap all the spears off at ground level.

 

After Harvest Care

After harvest is completed, apply a high Nitogen fertilizer.

New spears will then emerge, fern out, and provide a large canopy to cover the space between the rows. Once a dense fern canopy is formed, weed growth will be shaded out.

Inspect the ferns throughout the season for insect feeding and fern dieback. Asparagus beetles chew on the fern, causing the stem to turn brown and reducing the yield the next year. Spray the ferns with an approved insecticide when beetles are seen. We recommend Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew or Diatomaceous Earth, both of which are labeled for Organic Growing.

Do not cut down the fern growth at the end of the growing season. Leave the dead fern growth intact over the winter. This gives your asparagus an added layer of protection.

Remove the old fern growth by cutting or mowing as low as possible during the first week of April in central Ohio.