Native to Western Europe, asparagus does best in areas where the ground freezes in winter or there are dry seasons.
GROWING ASPARAGUS FROM SEED
It is best to start seeds inside or in the warmth of a greenhouse in mid-February to May.
Seeds require bright light and soil temperatures between 70-85 degrees for germination
. soak the seeds for a couple of hours before planting for better results.
• Fill 3.5-inch pots with sterile soil.
• Place 3-seeds on the surface of the soil in each pot.
• Cover the seeds with a thin layer of sifted sand.
• Bottom water all pots by placing in a pan with sides with water.
• Do not let pots dry out.
• Allow the seedlings to grow for three months before transplanting as long as all risk of frost has passed.
• Place transplants about 18 inches apart in rows that are 4 inches apart. For thinner spears, place them 8 to 10 inches apart and 4 inches deep. For thicker spears, place them 12-14 inches apart and 6-8 inches deep.
• Cover the seedlings with a light layer of soil as they grow.
• Provide one-inch of water each week.
• Remember, don’t harvest for three years – allow the plant to grow all summer and cut it back to 2-inches in the fall.
GROWING ASPARAGUS FROM CROWNS
It is important to prepare your bed ahead of time so that you are ready when the crowns arrive.
Asparagus likes soil that is pH neutral and somewhat sandy and loose that drains well. I have had the best luck growing asparagus crowns in 2 x 8 raised beds
• Work compost into the soil.
• Dig two 12-inch deep furrows in the raised bed.
• Put one cup organic-fertilizer in each furrow.
• Mound up loose dirt into cone-shaped piles about 6 inches tall at the bottom of the furrow. Leave 18 inches between each cone.
• Put an asparagus crown on top of each dirt pile in the furrow. The roots should hang down over the dirt pile.
• Cover the crowns with about 1-inch of soil.
• Keep the soil moist but do not saturate.
• Add more soil as the asparagus continues to grow.
• Continue this process until the furrow are filled to ground level with the soil.
• Do not harvest for two years, let the spears grow to into ferny plants and develop deep roots.
TRICKS fOR A BIGGER & BETTER ASPARAGUS HARVEST
Plant asparagus seedlings near tomatoes. Asparagus repels nematodes that attack tomatoes and tomatoes repel asparagus beetles. Companion planting can really aid your growing efforts.
Asparagus plants are either male or female. There are some varieties such as Jersey Knight and Jersey Giant that produce all male plants so that they are more productive. Choose an all-male variety if you want a bigger yield.
Soak crowns in compost tea before planting to give them a burst of energy.