Here's a clever way to keep asparagus producing an extra two to four weeks. A bonus is that it will also dampen the midseason asparagus explosion. Steve Reiners, a vegetable specialist in New York, suggests that you try his method on half your asparagus bed and see how you like the results.
In spring, just enjoy the earliest crop, picking as usual for a while. That could be about a week if the weather is warm, water is abundant and the plants are producing heavily. If it's cool, the plants might take three weeks to hit full stride. But once they do, let two or three of the largest spears from each crown develop into full leaf. Production from those plants should drop off radically as the developing leaves command most of the energy from the roots. (You can keep picking any smaller spears, and you've got the other half of the bed to enjoy as usual.)
Soon you'll see the size of the new spears increase again as the mature leaves send sugars to the root. You can resume picking until the size of new spears drops off again, and you'll have stretched the harvest to a full two months or more. For best results, provide plenty of water through the entire harvest season and control weeds with a generous application of a rich organic mulch.
Photography by National Gardening Association.
Article published on June 23, 2008.