Asparagus - Knowledgebase Question

Lexington, KY
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Question by JDS029
December 28, 1997
What variety of asparagus do you recommend for this area? We are having some landscaping done on 1/5/98. We would like the landscapers to prepare a bed for asparagus. How should we instruct them to prepare a bed? When can we plant? I would like the most mature crowns that you recommend. If we prepare two 12 inch tracts, how far should they be from each other? Should the plantings be apart; should they be staggered?

Answer from NGA
December 28, 1997
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 permanentthing so you are clever to "do it right" from the beginning. Asparagus will benefit from a luxurious growing area. Remove all weeds and rocks. Dig a great deal of organic material into the planting area, a 6" layer of well rotted manure orcompost 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. Asparagus is usually planted approximately 4 wks. after the last frost date for your area. In warmer areas it can be planted in the fall. 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. Regarding variety, I recommend 'Jersey Giant' from Burpee. You can obtain it by calling 1-800-888-1447 or revisiting the website. Jersey Giant is very disease resistant and produces high yields. Do you remember earlier I said asparagus takes a long time? Here is what I meant...the first year 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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