Perhaps no other garden vegetable is so eagerly awaited in spring as tender spears of asparagus. This hardy perennial, a member of the lily family (Liliacea), can be easily grown, and once established can be harvested for 10-12 years from the same planting!
Asparagus thrives in fertile, loose soil. A bed containing 2 rows, 20 feet long, spaced 4 feet apart will accommodate 30-40 plants - which is sufficient to supply an average family of 4.
Dig trenches 12” deep and as wide. Mix 3” of Pay Dirt (our favorite and go-to amendment for veggies, roses and top dressing flower beds!) into about 6” of the soil in the bottom of the trench and soak thoroughly. Set asparagus crowns into the trench so the tops are 6-8” below the top of the trench and roots are spread out evenly. Space crowns 12” apart and cover with 2” of conditioned soil. Water slowly and thoroughly. As sprouts grow, fill the trench a little at a time with conditioned soil, always leaving the tips exposed until the trench is filled.
The conditioned soil used to fill the trenches should be 1/3 Pay Dirt mixed with 2/3 loose garden soil.
Don’t skimp on water when the top growth is developing. Soak deeply whenever the soil begins to dry out at the root depth. Overhead sprinklers or soaker hoses provide the best way to deep water asparagus beds.
For maximum production and thick, tender spears, asparagus needs heavy feeding. We recommend applying E.B. Stones Organic Tomato & Vegetable Food 4-5-3 just before growth starts in spring, every 6-8 weeks during the growing season and again after the last harvest.
Here’s a tip, pick up the big bag of Tomato & Veggie Food because soon, all those delicious summer veggies will be arriving and they’ll want a dose of organic fertilizer too!
Spears will have best flavor and texture if picked when they are 5-8” high. Spears that have become taller than 8” should be left and allowed to develop foliage. If spears are cut, the knife must be kept sharp and cutting done so as not to injure other spears close by. Cut on a 45 degree angle about 1 1/2” below the soil level. Spears also may be snapped off by bending sharply until they break.
On plants started from seed or 1 year roots, spears should not be harvested for 1-2 years. Our bareroot asparagus are on 2 year roots, so you should have a few spears that can be harvested in the first year. After that, cutting may be continued until the appearance of thin spears indicates that the food stored in the roots is running low. At this point, allow the remaining spears to develop into fern-like foliage. Continue feeding and watering until foliage turns brown in late fall, then cut dead stems off at ground level. To control asparagus beetles and other pests, apply Monterey Take Down Garden Spray. For slug and snail control, hand pick and dispose or use Sluggo Slug & Snail Bait - safe to use in vegetable garden areas.