Plant Once, Eat for Decades: Planting Asparagus

April 7, 2015 | By | More

planting asparagusThere’s this thing that I want really, really badly: it’s called “passive income.” Basically, it means that after you do a good deal of work to set up your income stream, the money just rolls in forever while you sit near an infinity edge pool in the Maldives and a dude wearing a loincloth feeds you grapes. It’s the stuff of my dreams, minus the loincloth dude because I’d miss Mr. President too much. Until I figure out how to make that green roll in while I’m passive, I’ll be focusing on the same idea with another kind of green, asparagus.

Phase 1 of the Tomato Envy garden was completed last year with the addition of a large fenced area with eight raised beds. Phase 2 of my edible dream landscape includes growing berries and other perennials that may not hit their stride for 2-3 years. Planting asparagus is an exercise in delayed gratification.

Last fall, we built two 3×6-foot cedar raised beds and made a lasagna garden inside to kill the grass and improve the soil within. Both beds are now planted with asparagus crowns and, if all goes well, they will ramp up production so I can take a full harvest of scrumptious asparagus in a few years. They will keep producing for decades with proper care!

 Tips for Planting Asparagus

planting asparagus

The crowns don’t look like much right now

Carefully choose a site that gets full sun. Remember, once the plants are in, they’re in for the long haul. Make absolutely certain your asparagus patch is weed free prior to planting. Asparagus does not compete well with weeds, so this will be an ongoing task if you want success with asparagus.

High-quality crowns can be obtained online from a reputable nursery. Newer cultivars are disease resistant and all-male, so no plant energy is wasted on producing seeds and you get more asparagus spears. I planted Jersey Supreme from Gardener’s Supply.

planting asparagusDig a trench that’s about a foot deep. Because I grow in raised beds, I had to use the wheelbarrow to hold all that displaced soil until the crowns were in. Amend the soil you dug out with an organic, high phosphorus fertilizer such as bone meal. Use the amended soil to make little 6-inch high mounds in the trench about 1 foot apart. My two 18-square foot beds were perfect for 25 plants. Fan out the roots of the crown and set each one on top of the mound – it will look a little like an octopus. Cover just the roots with the soil. The top of the crown will be about 6 inches below the soil level at this point. I had to get creative with all that displaced soil, so I replaced it all into the bed, mounding it up high around the asparagus crowns and leaving each one in a “crater” about 6 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter.

As the plants begin to grow, fill in your trench with the excess soil, gradually covering them. Within a few weeks of planting, your soil should all be level as the plants continue growing. Completely rid the bed of any and all weeds at this time and mulch well to prevent any more weeds.

planting asparagus

Place each crown on its own little dirt mound

When your plants produce spears the first year, you must not harvest them. Insteaad, stare longingly at them knowing you are helping the plant become stronger for future harvests down the road. The second year, you can pick some of the spears for a 2-week period, the third year, pick for 3 weeks. Only in the fourth year should you take a full harvest. I’m already looking forward to May of 2018!

Keep the patch consistently watered and weed-free during the growing season. After harvest, or lack of harvest the first couple of years, let the spears develop naturally and produce tall ferny fronds that will die off. Cut them all down in late fall.

 

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Category: General, Home and Garden, Kitchen Garden

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  1. Tamara Baran says:

    It’s 2018 and nearly May, how have your asparagus done? I found your article while researching how I’ll plant my new asparagus crowns in my raised bed gardens; it’s got great, clear instructions that will be easy for me to follow! Thanks!

    • Brande says:

      Hi Tamara! I’m glad you found this post helpful, and I hope you have fantastic results with your own asparagus. Mine so far is doing fine – I harvested for a short time last year. This year, they are a bit delayed because we had a very cold and unusually snowy April. They are coming up now and I’m hopeful.

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