Asparagus Newbie

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Shalom Farm, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. Shalom Farm

    Shalom Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello All!

    I just picked up 24 bulbs of asparagus. 8 are purple and the rest are NJ hybrid. We are avid asparagus eaters.

    I was looking for some tips on planting them. I plan on having them in row planters that are moveable. The bulbs seem dry. It says they are "2 year old" roots on the front fo the package but on the back it says "these roots are the size of 2 year old roots"... So is this really a 2 year old root? It was all that was available.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    They are deep rooted when mature. You should cultivate at least 2' down, then make a sort of soil cone for each plant and spread the roots over the cone. Cover to the top of the roots, leaving the crown exposed. The crown should then be about 6' below ground level, and you should gradually fill in that trench as they grow. They are rather heavy feeders, similar to tomatoes, and do much better if kept weed free.

    I would guess they are 1 year old roots, but who knows? You probably won't want to cut many if any next year. anyway. They are likely to be pencil thin the first year, and scant. When you do start cutting, be sure to stop while they are still making shoots, and let some grow out.

    Or at least that's how I did it. I kept a bed going for about 25 years, and my parents had one when I was a kid -- but I did add a round of new rooots every few years. Some multiplied and some died out. We started a new bed here about 5 years ago and it's pretty much been a loss due to fire ants.
     
  3. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The advice I was given for asparagus is to plant somewhere permanent that is well-draining area (no puddles) and to compost lightly every fall. Our bed is not moveable and I'm not sure how deep the roots of the plants go - but it's significant for the one bulb I accidentally pulled last year (over 4' long!).

    Do NOT pick any the first year's planting - just let grow. They're quite beautiful when all feathered out and have little red berries the sparrows seem to adore come fall.

    Pick 1/3 of the thicker stalks the second year. Let the remainder go to seed.

    Pick 2/3 of the thicker stalks the third year. Let the remainder go to seed.

    The fourth year, you can pick as much as you'd like.

    Here in Illinois, the plants go somewhat dormant once the heat hits - meaning the plants bolt in a day from sprout to full feathered plant and are not pick-able to eat. Then, when rainy/cooler weather comes back in the fall, they'll start up again. I think if I provided shade cloth, they'd bolt less which would mean more spears for us to eat, but I've not yet gotten that far! Perhaps I'll plant runner beans in front of the asparagus and see if the extra shade from the beans slows down the bolting......
     
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  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    I grew up in Illinois, and we had a bed for most of my childhood. Once it bolted, we left it alone til next spring. It was fairly well shaded by a huge apple tree.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Asparagus has a huge root system and does not take kindly to being disturbed. You're best to plant it where it can stay put, and you'll need to keep weeds from invading the bed. I like to keep a deep mulch over my bed. If I want an early harvest, I can pull the mulch back from part of the bed, start harvesting there, then continue to harvest from the mulched section.
     
  6. scarecrw

    scarecrw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anyone trade root stock. I'd be interested in trying to grow some. I have many types of seeds for trade.
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    It takes 3 years to get a good harvest from a started bed., and that's with the bundles of roots that you see in the stores in the spring. If you are observant, you might see an asparagus plant growing along the side of a country road, and if you mark it's location, can come back and dig it up when it's dormant... don't go digging in anyone's yard! Be prepared to do a lot of heavy digging, because the root systems are pretty massive. If you don't want to buy started plants, and have plenty of time to invest, you can start it from seed, and it will take an extra year to get a good harvest. I don't think it's the kind of plant that you can take a cutting from to propagate it, but I'd love to have someone tell me that they've done so successfully.
     

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