Gardening 101, How To Grow Asparagus
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How To Grow Asparagus
If you want to harvest asparagus soon rather than later you need to plant asparagus roots in prepared beds and you will be harvesting delicious asparagus in a year. If you plant seeds it can take 2 - 3 years before you harvest asparagus.
You Can Buy Asparagus Roots At Farm And Garden Centers
You can buy the asparagus roots from your local garden center, a local nursery, or you can order them online. You will want to allow 25 feet of row for every 12 plants. You will want your rows of asparagus to be 3 - 4 feet apart to allow for plenty of growth and so you can easily work the soil between your plants.
Preparing Your Soil For Your Asparagus Is Very Important
You should know that asparagus can be grown in any soil that is well drained and fertile. You really need a soil test kit and your soil needs to be slightly acid but not below pH6. What you will want to do is as soon as the soil can be worked, you want to dig a trench that is 20 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Then you will want to add 5-10-5 fertilizer in the amount of about 5 pounds per every 75 feet of row. You will want to add organic material ( finished compost ) and mix it into the soil that you have removed. Now you will want to fill your trench with this material to a depth that is about 6 inches below ground level.
Now when you plant your asparagus roots tamp the soil down and place your asparagus roots on top with the grown side up with the roots about two feet apart. Now cover your asparagus roots with 2-3 inches of soil. As the asparagus comes up and grows fill the trench with more soil until you have filled the trench back up.
Be Sure To Feed Your Asparagus
Now to increase the growth rate of the asparagus you planted you will want to feed your asparagus more 5-10-5 fertilizer about two and one half months after you first planted them. And you will want to be sure to add more fertilizer every spring and fall to feed your asparagus and to keep it growing well.
Mulch Your Asparagus To Keep Out Weeds And Grass
Watch out for weeds and attack them with a vengeance. You never want weeds to get started growing in your asparagus bed. But be careful when you remove the weeds. Pull them out if you can but if you can't hoe them out being careful to chop them out carefully as your asparagus is growing there just under the ground.
Once your asparagus is up start to mulch around it to keep weeds out and moisture in. In the fall after the top leaves have been killed by frost cut everything back to ground level and mulch the bed heavily. If you do this you will keep the weeds out and you will have a healthy growth of asparagus roots under the ground that you can't see. Asparagus grows an extensive root system to support the stalks above ground. If you keep the weeds out and add plenty of 5-10-5 fertilizer and mulch you will be rewarded with lots of delicious asparagus by the second year and usually a lot more in the third year.
When To Harvest Your Asparagus
Your asparagus spears will start to push up through the soil when the soil is about 50 degrees. If the air temperature is warm the asparagus spears will grow quickly but if the air is cooler the spears will grow slower. In the early part of the growing season you'll need to pick your asparagus about every two to three days but as the weather warms up you'll want to pick the spears every day.
In the fall after the asparagus foliage has been killed by frost mow it close and then mulch the asparagus bed with straw mulch.
During the first two years an extensive root system will develop to feed and support the stalks above the ground. During the second spring after you first plant the asparagus you will be able to pick a few shoots when they are about 7 inches high but be sure that you restrict any harvesting to a month at most. Then don't harvest any more that year.
But after the third year you can harvest all the asparagus shoots except the very thin ones. You will want to harvest your asparagus spears when they are 5 - 8 inches long and the buds are still tight. After the buds start to open the spears are past their prime. You want to be sure that you stop any harvesting when the new spears start growing back thinner. In most areas the harvesting season will last from six to eight weeks. When you start leaving stalks they will grow into tall thin fern-like branches and they will help to feed the extensive root system.
When you harvest your asparagus spears you will want to bend the stalks at ground level until they snap off, and leave the white part of the stalk in the ground. If you can't use the harvested asparagus right away stand the harvested asparagus up right in water until you are ready to cook the asparagus.
Varieties Of Asparagus To Grow
When your looking to buy new asparagus roots look for roots that are all male hybrids like Jersey Giant. All male hybrids can be harvested after one year and you will have a huge crop of asparagus to harvest.
You will find out over time that asparagus is a spring crop that prefers cooler temperatures and full sun. Where ever you plant your asparagus bed it is going to have to be left there if you want to harvest more asparagus in the future. Your going to need soil that is rich with a PH level between 6.0 - 7.0 . Here is where you need a soil test kit. You'll then need to add well rotted mulch or well rotted manure to adjust the PH level.
With most varieties you'll want to wait until the third year before you harvest asparagus spears. You'll want to harvest the spears when they are about the size of a man's finger. Cut them off with a pair of garden scissors and wash them off well with cold running water before you cook and eat them. Your plants will continue to produce for 15 - 20 years.
As the weather gets warmer and the sprouts get long and spindly stop harvesting for that year.
I like to steam my asparagus with a little lemon juice and butter and it is so tasty and delicious prepared that way.
What Can Go Wrong When Your Growing Asparagus
You will want to buy only rust resistant varieties of asparagus to plant in your asparagus bed or beds. If you have any affected plants they can be treated with mancozeb. If you ever see any small beetles appear on your asparagus you will need to apply carbaryl, malathion, or rotenone. If you do have to use pesticides be sure to read the labels carefully. In most cases you'll need to wait a certain amount of days before you use your asparagus again.
Be Sure To Keep Your Asparagus Bed Or Beds Free Of Weeds
It's very important that you keep your bed free of weeds. If you allow weeds to grow you will end up with problems with your asparagus which you don't want.
Don't work in your asparagus bed or with any vegetables directly after a rainstorm. Wait until after the ground has dried slightly. The reason for this is if you bruise or damage your plants while they are wet it is easy for bacteria to get started growing so always let your ground and plants to dry out before you start working in the asparagus bed or beds.
Asparagus have long spears that most often will be green, however you can sometimes have white asparagus that will have slightly pinkish tips. Asparagus has a mild flavor and a very delicate texture that will become tougher as it ages.
Most of the asparagus that is sold in the USA is green but Europeans love white asparagus which has been kept covered while growing so that it does not turn green.
In most parts of the United States during the peak season from February through June, pencil-thin shoots of asparagus are plentiful. If the spears are allowed to get larger and thicker they won't be as tender when they are cooked. You will find asparagus sold fresh, frozen, and canned.
Be sure that you use any fresh asparagus as soon as possible. If you need to store do it stalk side down in a glass of water, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.
If you need or want to you can steam your asparagus and then allow it to cool. Place it in zip lock plastic bags and freeze for up to six months. Thaw it in the refrigerator when your ready to use it.
Fresh steamed asparagus mixed in with hot buttered rice and a tablespoon of lemon zest makes a perfect vegetable dish. I also add fresh squeezed lemon juice. This asparagus lemon rice goes great with a grilled steak, pork chop, or chicken.
Health Benefits Of Asparagus
The stalks of asparagus are high in antioxidants and asparagus is a great source of Vitamin C. Asparagus has long been recognized for its medicinal properties and asparagus contains substances that neutralize ammonia that makes us tired and it keeps small blood vessels from rupturing. it is also a diuretic and its fiber content makes it a laxative also.
If your trying to eat healthy, asparagus is an excellent choice. The Vitamin C in asparagus is a powerful antioxidant that may even have the power to stop or slow cancer. And we all know that Vitamin C can help prevent colds and flu.
Water from where asparagus is cooked will help to clean blemishes from your face. You should also know that asparagus and the water it is cooked in will help to rid your body of Uric Acid which is the substance that causes gout in the human body. Asparagus is also good for hypertension.
Asparagus Is The Perfect Plant To Plant Near Tomatoes
If you plant your asparagus and your tomatoes near to each other the tomatoes will help to keep the asparagus beetles away from your asparagus. And the asparagus plants will help to keep harmful harmful root nematodes away from your tomatoes.
How Do You Like Your Asparagus Cooked
I love my asparagus served steamed with a little butter and some fresh lemon juice. It is delicious with almost anything and its also good for you. You can't beat that can you. I want to thank you for reading my Hub Page on How To Grow Asparagus and I hope there is some asparagus in your future real soon. I hope you have a nice day.
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