The Q&A Archives: Storing Asparagus Crowns Until Planting Time

Question: I received an order of Mary Washington asparagus on 5-5-97. Even though instructions were on the package and inside on what to do if the plants could not be put in the ground immediately I did not read them. It is now almost 3 weeks later. The asparagus has been sitting in an opened package. Because of the amount of rain we have had the last 3 days it will be a minimum of another week before the ground is dry enough for me to dig the bed. I have put the crowns in a pot with dirt about half wayup and watered it. Do I have any chance of saving these crowns or have I lost them due to my own stupidity? (Advice to new home owners: don't try to establish a lawn and dig new flower/vegetable gardens during a spring of a 100 year rain fall withtemperatures below normal and the last killing frost the second week of May!!) In trying to dig a garden I have found that the ground is mostly clay. If these crowns live will they be able to establish themselves in soil that is mostly clay? K. Cottner Crestwood, KY

Answer: Your asparagus crowns will probably pull through as long as they have been kept moist. Your soil is of more concern, because asparagus need a well-drained loam, preferably a sandy loam fortified with organic matter. If you are going to the trouble to dig an asparagus bed, it would be well worth your effort to amend the soil before you plant. Otherwise you will be unsatisfied with your crop, and it will be difficult to improve the soil later. Mix in some aged manure or compost to a depth of about 1 1/2 feet (your asparagus crowns will be set 1 foot deep). The more fertile the soil over the crowns, the better your harvest.

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