How to Grow Asparaguscomments (11) July 31st, 2008
Seeds vs. crowns. You can start your asparagus with seeds, but they take six weeks to germinate and add another year of growing time before the first harvest. So most people start with the asparagus crown, the root mass and buds.
When buying crowns, look for fresh, firm-fleshed roots. If they are shriveled or feel like paper, they may be old and won’t produce well, if at all.
|Most people start their asparagus from crowns, not seeds. The root masses should be fresh and firm. Dry sections of the roots can be pruned before planting.|
|Deeper plantings tend to produce thicker but fewer spears.|
Plant crowns early. Crowns should be planted while they are dormant. That can be as early as late winter. They should be planted when the ground is workable, between frosts. As long as the crowns are covered with about 2 in. of soil, they won’t suffer in hard freezes. They can be planted as late as mid-spring, if plump, healthy roots are still available.
A few crowns can be planted merely by digging individual holes for each plant. If you want to plant more, dig a trench. If the soil is heavy clay, the trench should be deep enough to accommodate a layer of compost or other organic material under the crowns. The optimum depth to plant crowns is 6 in. to 8 in. Shallower plantings yield many spindly spears, while those planted deeper produce fewer spears of larger diameter. Place the crowns in the furrow, and cover initially with 2 in. to 3 in. of soil. Keep adding to the trench as the spears emerge. By season’s end, it should be filled. You can fill the trench completely at planting time, but by doing it gradually, you move the dirt and control the weeds.
Asparagus stays healthy with breathing room. Space the asparagus crowns so you get as many plants as possible in a small area, but still allow for good air circulation to protect against disease. I plant my crowns 15 in. to 18 in. apart in rows 5 ft. apart. Figure on 10 plants for each person in the family who loves asparagus. This ought to enable you to harvest enough at one time for a meal.
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