The Q&A Archives: Renovating Asparagus Bed

Question: We have a 20-year old asparagus bed that has served us well. Last year we got very little yield, most spears were pencil thin and tough. The yield has been dwindling over the past few years. Is it time to plant new roots? How many do we need for a 10 x 5' plot? Do we remove the old ones and prepare the bed from scratch? We've been growing 'Mary Washington' - is that our best choice? How about Purple Passion, sounds good?

Answer: Your asparagus patch has served you well! I think your patch is the oldest I've ever heard of! You should start over this spring. A few things have changed since you planted your patch all those years ago. For instance, researchers have found that you don't have to plant crowns "right side up", and you don't need to plant them any deeper than 6-8". The rest of the rules still apply - enrich the soil in the planting trenches with lots of compost, aged manure, etc.<br><br>You'llneed about 15 crowns to fill the planting bed (two rows, at least far enough apart so you can mow down the center, and crowns 18" apart in the trenches). After 20 years of 'Mary Washington', why not try something different; 'Jersy Giant' has the highest yields per crown, and is adapted to grow most anywhere. 'Purple Passion' is delectable and the color is novel. Maybe friends/family would be willing to split an order with you, so you can try both varieties without wasting any crowns. Enjoy!

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