Growing Asparagus

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that is best suited for cooler areas. It is grown for the spears or the stems. A well tended planting yields 8-10 lbs. per 100 sq.ft. or 24 lbs. per 100 ft. row. Asparagus plants can last up to 15-25 years if well cared for. It does not do well if summers are extremely hot and long and winters are mild. Asparagus is grown from either seed or by one year old roots. Here at Anderson’s we sell Mary Washington and Jersey Giant one year roots and Mary Washington seeds. It takes 3 seasons from the time the seed is planted, and 2 seasons from the time the roots are planted, until you can harvest. The best production occurs in it’s 6 and 7th year and continues to do well until the 10th year. After the 10th year there is a 5% decline in yield every year after.

Where To Plant

Asparagus does best in deep, well-drained soil with full sunlight. Since Asparagus will be in the same place for several years it is important that you place it in the right spot, free from being disturbed.

Proper Planting

Keep rows 4-6 feet apart. Dig the furrows 4 inches wide and 6-12 inches deep. Place the crowns in the furrow and cover them with 2-3 inches of soil. Do not fill the entire furrow at once. Place the crowns 12- 14 inches apart; planting too closely can result in small spears. Each time the Asparagus stalk breaks through the soil cover w/2 inches of soil, continue this process until furrow has been filled. RESULTS HAVE SHOWN THAT ASPARAGUS PLANTED W/ROOT STIMULATOR WILL MORE LIKELY SURVIVE THAN PLANTED W/ OUT. Asparagus roots have a 60-80% loss when transplanted .

Water & Fertilizer

Asparagus likes frequent deep waterings every 3-5 days. Use your root stimulator w/each watering until the bottle is gone. Make sure to allow the top 1 inch of the soil to dry before you water again or else you will get waterlogged soil, which leads to root rot. Optimum pH is 6.5-7.0, which is what we’ve got here in Cache Valley. Before planting new asparagus, till in 2-3 lbs. of 16-16-16 per 20 ft. of row. For established beds scatter 1-2 lbs. per 20 ft. row. In the fall, spread 3 inches of organic matter over the soil and till it in up to 10-12 inches.

Keep Weeds And Bugs Out

Keep the weeds pulled or hoed from the bed. You cannot spray asparagus with an herbicide during the first year. After the first year you can use a selective herbicide to control the weeds. The most common insect that attacks Asparagus is the Asparagus beetle, which will eat along the stem leaving it brown and dying. Apply High Yield Garden Pet & Livestock insecticide, containing permethrin when the beetles are first noticed. Repeat the applications as long as the beetles (adult) or grubs (larva) are feeding. Also treat them in late summer or early fall to prevent adults from overwintering on the sterns and reinfesting the following year’s crop. Handpick adults where practical.

When You Can Harvest

Do not harvest your crop until after the first season, if you have bought 1 year old roots. Allow it to bush out and after it dries and turns brown, remove it. When not harvested, the spears will turn into a fern-like plant. Then the plant will store food in its roots and will give more energy to produce spears the next year. A good general rule for harvesting asparagus is the 2-4-6 rule. Harvest for 2 weeks the second year, 4 weeks the third year, and 6 weeks the fourth and following years. There are different ways to harvest. Many people like to cut the asparagus 1-2 inches below the soil. Others like to snap the stems off right above the soil surface. Either method works. If you harvest asparagus that will not be eaten immediately, wash them and store them in the refrigerator with water. They should keep for several days. Another way of keeping them is by blanching them and then putting them in the freezer.

Jersey Giant Asparagus

This is the first all-male hybrid released by Rutgers University, New Jersey. These plants are highly productive and very vigorous. This variety is widely adapted and excellent yields are being reported from Washington State eastward to New England and south to the Carolinas. It is resistant to rust and tolerant to Fusarium root and crown rot. The purple bracted spears are large and a very attractive green

Mary Washington Asparagus

This is the standard variety for home or commercial planting. It is disease resistant and will produce an abundance of tender, flavorful shoots.