The Q&A Archives: Asparagus

Question: I would like to try some asparagus but the soil in our yard is clay and not very well drained. Can you give me some suggestions on how to prepare the bed?

Answer: Asparagus needs plenty of sun and very rich, well drained
soil with an ample amount of organic material worked in
prior to planting. This is important because the asparagus
bed is a long term planting which will last for many years if
done right at the outset. The plants should be spaced about
eighteen inches apart in rows about four feet apart. The
mature plants are quite large!

You may want to create a slight rise where you plant your asparagus and add a bit of sand to the soil; both of these steps will help improve the drainage. Adding organic matter, however is equally important.

Ideally asparagus is planted in very early spring. First
prepare the ground as deeply as practical, because the roots
can reach five feet deep. Then dig a trench about a foot
deep and wide enough to accomodate the crowns without
crowding. Work in several inches of organic matter such as
compost or well rotted manure at the bottom of the trench,
then plant the crowns. Cover them with a few inches of soil
mixed with organic matter and water well. As the plants
grow, continue adding layers of amended soil until the trench
is filled in. Be sure to keep the asparagus bed well weeded
and water regularly if needed during the summer.

Generally it is a good idea to let the new plants grow and
become established for the first year, thus delaying any
harvest until the next year. When you do begin to harvest,
cut only those spears larger in diameter than a pencil.

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