How to Grow Asparaguscomments (6) July 31st, 2008
Modest care pays dividends
When you’ve established your asparagus bed, the hard part is finished. Still, you must follow good culture practices to assure successful crops.
Weeds must be controlled. This can be done mechanically with a hoe, cultivator, or rotary tiller. To avoid damaging the asparagus roots, don’t till deeper than 2 in. Weed-blocking fabric and mulch will also help. Many gardeners use coarse salt to keep the weeds out. Asparagus tolerates salt, while most other plants don’t.
• Quick and Light, Asparagus Hits the Spot
• Using Asparagus in Season and Beyond
• Fresh Asparagus Soup
• Pickled Asparagus
• Stir-Fried Shrimp and Asparagus
Except under almost desert conditions, asparagus, with its extensive root system, doesn’t need irrigation. I’ve learned that asparagus drowns much more quickly than it dies of thirst.
Asparagus does, however, need to be protected from pests. The asparagus beetle can nibble on spears and lay dark eggs along the surface. Unless a great amount of asparagus is grown in your area, this is mostly just a nuisance. Scrape off the eggs with your fingernail.
Fungal diseases like asparagus rust, which first appears as small reddish-brown spots on stems, can be treated with fungicides. The new hybrid varieties, however, resist disease.
A royal harvest worth the wait
It takes time to grow accustomed to the asparagus harvest cycle. Although the harvest is about six weeks long, it’s over just as many people start thinking about local summer produce. The asparagus harvest in Kansas usually starts about the middle of April and runs until the first of June. Spear growth depends on temperature. If it’s cool, the asparagus may need to be harvested every three days; if hot, every day.
Older varieties had to grow for three seasons before they could be harvested. With the increased vigor of the new hybrid varieties, gardeners can harvest for about two weeks during the first season, a year after planting. A light harvest seems to stimulate the plant to produce more spears. A full six-week harvest season may follow in year two, provided the average size of the spears is larger than a pencil.
Cooking with asparagus
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