I have been terrible at maintaining our asparagus bed simply because life gets in the way. However, this year I plan on being better about giving them the love they deserve so that they keep growing year after year. My asparagus bed has been planted for 2.5 years so it SHOULD be at its peak however the soil needs some amendments and regular weeding.
Our asparagus plants have become my favorite perennial vegetables as it can grow in the garden with little fuss. Since asparagus is a perennial we gave it a spot in our garden where it will stay for years towards the back since the ferns get quite large towards the end of the season. Right now my asparagus bed is lying dormant however I can see the first sign of a shoot (spear) emerging. So now is the perfect time to add soil amendments.
How It All Began
Back in 2015 we ordered 25 Jersey Supreme Asparagus Roots (male dominate) that were already 2 years old to start in this tiny bed (we should have only done about 10-15 as they were overcrowded) from a seller with great ratings on Amazon. Our dormant roots quickly arrived and we soaked them in warm water and planted them per the in box suggestions by placing them on mounds of dirt and using lots of mulch. Although we were suppose to received a male dominate group of plants I KNOW there were females in there as I get quite a bit of red berries towards the end of the season which hopefully will go to seed and grow future plants.
Our First Years Mistakes
- Mistake 1 – Our first year we had shoots which I immediately cut when they grew to our desired table size of 8″ without leaving any shoots to grow into ferns to feed the next seasons crop.
- Mistake 2 – Not making “mounds” big enough. So we get some spears that tend to bend or fall over
- Mistake 3 – Not providing enough fertilizer for future years
- Hardiness – Zones 3 and warmer
- Light – Prefers full sun, tolerates some shade
- Soil – Fertile, well-drained; prefers pH 6.5 to 6.8; will tolerate slightly alkaline soils, up to 7.5
- Water – Regular water, keep soil evenly moist, but not wet
- Spacing – Plant crowns 1.5 to 2 feet (.45 to .61 m) apart in rows 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 m) apart
- Days to Maturity – Asparagus may be picked sparingly for 1 to 2 weeks in the second year. A mature patch, around 5 years old, may be harvested for as long as 10 weeks.
- Harvest – Begin harvesting after two to three seasons of growth
Asparagus needs to be fed twice a year, once in the early spring and then again in early to mid summer.
- Early Spring – This would be February for us here in California. Prior to the shoots emerging you will need to add a good 2″ to 3″ inches of organic compost and sprinkle a good balanced fertilizer (either a 5-5-5 or a 10-10-10) around the bed. In addition I like to add Organic Bone Meal 2-14-0 as asparagus plants love phosphorus. Composted manure, bone meal and rock phosphate are all good amendments to keep soil levels high in this nutrient. Since we have horses and chickens I use compost that has been aging for 6+ months which has a rich black color to it.
- Early Summer – This would be June for us here in California. As soon as harvesting of the spears is done, thoroughly weed the patch and side-dress with a 10-10-10 fertilizer according to the packaging of the fertilizer. The asparagus plants will need to start storing energy back into their roots so allow all the spears to grow into leafy ferns so that they will have “food” to feed the roots for future harvests.
Pest and Disease Prevention
We have not had issues yet (crossing all the hairs on my head) with asparagus rust but it can be a very serious problem in damp locations so you may have to use rust-resistant cultivars. After each season remove old asparagus foliage in the fall to avoid asparagus beetles as they will hide in your garden debris and emerge in the spring to feed on your emerging asparagus spears. Keep area clean of debris and cultivate the asparagus patch shallowly before applying mulch in the fall.