The Fast Expensive Way and Slow Cheaper Way Of Growing Asparagus

There are two ways to consider growing asparagus - the fast way or the slow way. The expensive way or the cheap way.

  • Fast and expensive is to purchase the correct number of roots and plant these.

  • Slow and inexpensive is to start your own bed from seed.

  • Slow and Expensive Directions

    Let's start with slow and inexpensive method of growing.

    Soak your seed for 48 hours by laying it on a wet paper towel.

    Try putting the paper towel on a cookie tray (with sides) and keeping enough water in the tray to keep the towel wet. The seed will begin to soak up moisture prior to germination. Keeping the water warm will speed this up (85F is recommended but not cooking temperatures)

    Dig a trench or furrow in the garden approximately four inches deep.

    Sow the seed one inch deep in the bottom of the trench and put the seed several inches apart. Do not fill in this trench or your "growing asparagus" efforts will be short lived as the seed will not germinate.

    green bean flowers

    Asparagus spears

    Sow Seed

    Seed is relatively cheap and the seed is an irregular and poor germinator so plan on planting close together and then thinning. Some gardeners use a fast germinating seed like radish to mark the rows and make sure something is growing.

    Asparagus seed is a very slow germinator and it may take upwards of a month for the seed to start growing. You'll see small thread-thin shoots that will open into fern-like leaves.

    Thin the plants to four inches apart.

  • Gradually fill in the trench over the summer while you are cultivating.

  • Mulch over the winter to protect the young growing asparagus roots.

  • The following April - before they have started to emerge, dig up all the roots.

  • Here's where the inexpensive and the expensive but fast come together.

    The fast folks have simply purchased their roots while the slow gardeners (but cheap remember?) have spent the year growing their roots.

  • Dig a trench or furrow in the garden approximately eight to twelve inches deep and one foot wide.

  • Set the vigorous roots 9 to 12 inches apart. (The skinny poor roots can be thrown away) and space the rows 4 feet apart.

  • Cover with a few inches of soil.

  • Over the course of the summer, gradually fill in the trench (every time you weed with a hoe, pull some of the soil from along the trench back into the trench)

  • By the time fall arrives, you'll have the trench filled in without a lot of extra work.

  • Do not harvest spears the first year!

    You really want to allow these roots to develop strength.

    You can take a single harvest the second year

    The first week of production (the first week that spears appear). After that allow all spears to grow into foliage.

    By the third year,

    You should be able to take 6 weeks of production.

    Weed control is by a straw mulch. This also evens out the soil temperature and provides protection to the growing asparagus roots.

    Book cover Vegetable Gardening

    Organic Matter in the Soil

    Asparagus is a crop (along with raspberries) that truly responds well to organic matter in the soil. You can not put too much compost on this plant!

    Thin Spears

    If you find your spears are thin, then you are not feeding enough or you're harvesting too much.

    Spears should be thumb-thick. Thicker spears are the tastiest and these will be produced early in the season.

    Leave the foliage alone in the garden until it turns yellow-golden brown in the fall and then you can cut it down and compost it.

    Asparagus beetle is controlled by hand-picking or rotenone.

    Shopping Resources for this Page

    Different varieties of asparagus roots and seeds from several suppliers

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