Asparagus is a perennial crop that can yield spears every year for up to 15 years or longer if properly cared for. Because it will be in the same spot for a long time, it’s necessary to choose a planting site that is both convenient and has good growth characteristics.
To support future gardening operations, the edge of a garden may be preferred to the middle. Asparagus is grown for its juicy, immature shoots, which will gradually mature into the bushy leaves known as ferns if left to grow.
Young spears sprout in southern New Hampshire about the first week of May, or when the soil temperature hits around 40 degrees F. The ferns keep growing until frost kills them in late fall or early winter.
Asparagus Growth Features
The Top (ferns), the crown (buds), and roots make up the asparagus plant. All three are necessary for a healthy plant.
The “factory” is the fern, which creates food stored in the crown and roots beneath the ground through the process of photosynthesis.
The amount of food generated and stored in the crown during the previous summer and fall determines the number of vigorous spears in the spring. To assure a good crop of spears the next spring, a good crop of ferns is required.
At the end of the season, wait until the old ferns are dead before cutting them back. Nutrients travel from the withering ferns to the crown in the fall.
Removing the ferns too soon weakens the crown, which may result in fewer spears the next spring.
Read also: Best Tips For Growing Asparagus From Seed
Asparagus Growing Conditions
Choosing the right Garden spot
Full sun is perfect for this location. Asparagus requires at least 8 hours of sunlight per day to thrive. Because asparagus is a long-lived perennial, avoid planting asparagus in areas where trees or tall bushes may shade it or contend for nutrients and water.
Planting on the right Soil
The crown and root system can develop to tremendous sizes, with a diameter of 5 to 6 feet and a depth of 10 to 15 feet. As a result, choose a soil that is loose, deep, well-drained, and fertile whenever possible.
Before planting asparagus, amend the soil with manure, compost, and/or green manure cover crops if the soil is poor.
Feeding the asparagus (Fertilizer)
Before planting, have your soil examined, and then every three years after that. Soil testing is available at a variety of private and public labs. This service is provided by UNH Cooperative Extension.
Using the amount of limestone or wood ashes prescribed by a soil test, raise the pH of the soil to 6.5 to 6.8. The same soil test is used to determine fertilizer requirements.
The equivalent of 2.5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet is a standard estimate. Before planting, all lime and fertilizer components should be well mixed into the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches.
Read also: How To Transplant Asparagus Fern
Planting the Asparagus
In the spring, asparagus is cultivated. Planting one-year-old crowns acquired from local garden dealers or through home garden catalogs is the easiest way.
Although the young crown appears to be a dead mess of threadlike roots, it will likely start to send up little green shoots (spears) after planting.
Plants should be spaced 18 inches apart in five-foot rows. 8-inch-deep, 10-inch-wide holes or trenches should be dug.
Cover the crown with about 2 inches of earth and distribute the roots in the bottom of the hole or trench. Fill up the hole with soil as the young shoots continue to expand over the first summer.
When the trenches are filled, the crowns should be about 6 inches underneath the soil surface.
This enables for hoe or rototiller cultivation, as well as enough depth of soil for new buds to form on the crown’s surface.
Starting asparagus transplants from seeds, as you would other vegetable transplants, is an option to using one-year-old crowns. Sow the seeds straight into pots 6 to 8 weeks before planting.
After all risk of frost has gone, thin to one plant per container and sow the young seedlings as instructed above for crowns. Covering the immature shoots (ferns) with soil is not recommended.
Read also: How To Save Asparagus Seeds
What Should Not Be Planted Near Asparagus?
Two main crops should not be grown with asparagus:
- Alliums. The presence of alliums such as leeks, garlic, and onion in the same soil as asparagus is considered to impede its growth
- Potatoes. When asparagus and potatoes inhabit the same area, the asparagus slows the development of the potatoes.