How to Asparagus
Asparagus plants are grown for the 'spears' or shoots that emerge in spring each year. The plant itself would be best considered a 'long term' investment in the vegetable garden and needs to be planted in a permanent spot. The plants can live up to 30 years and mustn't be disturbed one planted.
You can grow asparagus from seed, but a quicker alternative is to grow them from established crowns. Crowns are planted when dormant in winter and should be left to grow without harvesting for one to two seasons to allow them to settle in (if growing from seed, they need to be left for four years).
The emerging spears are cut off the plant during spring and can be harvested for approxiamtely 100 days, after which they must be left to mature through summer and rejuvinate the crown for the next season. During Autmn, the fern like leaves will yellow and wither and then must be cut off at ground level, ready to repeat the cycle next season.
Position: Full Sun to partial shade, protected from strong winds
Plant: Can be grown in pots or planted out as crowns in winter.
Frost Tolerant: Yes Heat tolerant: Yes - but protect from extreme summer heat to prevent sunburn of the foliage
Feeding: Well composted soil, well draining soiled regularly fed with animal manures. See genearal description.
Planting group: Member of the Lily family, but treat as a leaf crop.Do not disturb once planted. No rotation required
Pests: Main pests slugs/snails in Spring, otherwise little problems from pest or disease.
Harvesting: Spears are cut in Spring with a sharp knife at ground level on a diagonal cut when approximately 20-30 cm high. In warmer weather, growth can be phenominal, so check and harvest daily.Spears are cut in Spring with a sharp knife at ground level on a diagonal cut when approximately 20-30 cm high. In warmer weather, growth can be phenominal, so check and harvest daily.
When planting crowns, dig a trench or hole to about 50 to 75cm deep. (if using a pot, it obviously needs to be a very deep one, Asparagus have very long roots.) Create small mounds in the trench (or one in each planting hole) and place the crown on top of the mound, spreading the roots down the side of the mound. Add animal manures such as cow, sheep or chicken (chicken in small amounts) into the hole/trench and completely bury the crown. The top of the crown should be just below the soil surface. Liberally manure the bed and water in well. There should be sufficient rainfall until Spring to keep the beds moist, but if not, water by hand to ensure they don't dry out.
In Spring, top dress the bed with blood and bone when the shoots emerge.
Harvest and enjoy! (Note, Asparagus spears rapidly lose their natural sugars (within hours) so always harvest and eat immediately.