The Q&A Archives: Asparagus Bed

Question: What kind of dirt mixture should I prepare for an asparagus bed. This is the first time I've grown asparagus and I'm starting a raised bed.

Answer: Asparagus does take time but in my opinion it is well worth it. The site should be sunny, asparagus will tolerate some shade but a lot of sun will help ward off disease and give you plants that are more vigorous growers. An asparagus bed is a permanent thing so you are clever to "do it right" from the beginning. Asparagus will benefit from a luxurious growing area. If you purchase topsoil, a 3-way mix should be fine. Asparagus likes sandy soil with a pH of about 6.0. Dig a great deal of organic material into the planting area, a 6" layer of well rotted manure or compost is ideal. It would also be good to work in some bone meal and wood ash at planting time (for phosphorous and potassium). Asparagus prefers a sandy loam soil for best growth. Plant asparagus in rows, 4' between them. Dig trenches about 15 inches deep and 4 or 5 feet apart. Add a layer of well-rotted manure or compost (as mentioned above) in the bottom of the ditch. Add back some of the soil you removed, mixing it in with the bone meal. Form a little mound along the length of the trench. Set out the crowns on the top of this mound, spreading the roots carefully and spacing about 2 feet apart. Bury the roots with about 6 inches of soil, packing it gently around the crowns. Gently water the newly-planted crowns. As the shoots emerge, keep adding more soil around them, until the trenches are filled to ground level. Ten plants per person should give you plenty of asparagus. The first year after planting you will see a few pathetic looking spears come up...don't pick them! The plant matures by letting these spears turn into "ferny" foliage and this takes a few seasons. Don't cut the foliage down until late winter when it browns completely. The second year there will be more spears...sorry, don't pick them either. (You can pick a few that are about the diameter of your finger only. Wait until the third year to begin harvesting.

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