|How many asparagus plants would you suggest planting in a 8' by 4' raised bed and at what spacing?
|I would plant two 8" rows, as far apart as possible (but not right next to the edge of your raised bed, with 5 plants per row for a total of 10 plants. Following are some asparagus basics:
Asparagus is usually planted approximately 4 wks. after the last frost date for your area. Plant asparagus in rows, 4' between them. Dig trenches about 15 inches deep. Add a layer of well-rotted manure or compost 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 is the usual recommendation. 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.
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.
Clean out as many weeds as possible in spring and mulch the bed after cutting of asparagus is finished with a 4-6" layer of compost.This will bury annual weed seeds and make it hard for perennials to grow. You'll still have to weed, but hopefully it'll be less of a chore.