Member Since: 04/07/2013

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Re: How to Grow Asparagus

Asparagus ... the bane of my existence - I think until today. I had heard for so long how hard asparagus was to grow. I've been trying in a 6 x 4 bed for years with almost no success. But roaming the web, now I read how easy it is to grow and how hardy the plants are. I am now convinced those posters are right!
First, I determined that my soil was not right. This was a raised bed that existed when my wife and I bought our house (along with two other larger raised beds). I read how asparagus likes loose somewhat sandy soil with lots of compost so I decided to dig up what was there and create the environment I needed. I did that this weekend. What I found was, that there were just three or four inches of top soil and then clay! Solid clay. No wonder my asparagus wouldn't grow. I'd like to get some feed back from anyone who has experience as to my "perscription" for the soil. Here goes:
Removed the existing topsoil and saved it.
Dug down and removed the clay to a depth of about 18". (In one spot, I used a long-nosed spade and a post-hole digger to see how much farther the clay went down - I was able to dig down another 10 inces or so and still solid clay!)
My six by four foot bed now looked like a big bath tub with clay sides and bottom.
Put the old topsoil back in the hole first after removing the surviving asparagus crowns (about nine of them). Interesting thing about that topsoil - it was full of little bitty roots of all varieties (probably mostly weeds) - but zero, and I mean ZERO roots in the clay!
Mixed with the old topsoil, in the bottom of the hole, three 50 pound bags of gravel for drainage.
Layered fresh garden soil (in bags made for flowers and veggies) two cubic feet with 25 pounds aged manure and 50 pounds sand, well mixed together - two layers.
That brought me within six inches of the top of the raised bed. Laid in my surviving crowns and some new crowns and watered in.
Then covered with more top soil and some more sand. I did not want to add more manure because I was afraid of burning the plants with direct contact.
So, what does anyone think my chances are?! I think they are pretty good. The reason I was struck by the hardiness of asparagus is that it did ANYTHING at all in that clay soil with so little topsoil. One crown was big enough to divide. After digging them, I dunked in a bucket of water to remove all weeds and mud (a great tip from one site) and found that some of the soil up underneath the crown was clay! Again, if these could survive in these conditions they should love their new home. The new crowns I planted were Jersey Giant. I still have room for about eight more plants so would appreciate any feedback on that as well.