Asparagus: Care, Growing Guide, & Facts
Asparagus Plant Description
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is one of the earliest vegetables to ripen in the spring and one of the very few perennial vegetables that might have been cultivated in the garden.
Because it will stay in the same location for years, it is critical to pick a location that will provide it with all of the necessary growth conditions.
Asparagus plants take three to five years to fully fill out and develop, but the wait is well worth it. You’ll be picking asparagus spears for more than a month every spring once they get into their stride.
Asparagus spears are the plant’s young, upright stems with scale-like points. The leaf grows into an airy, light-green, fern-like cloud later in the season, changing to a golden hue in the fall. Early spring is the best time to sow this annual from its roots, or crowns.
The flowers are usually pale-yellow or greenish in colour and are seen in Europe and Africa. The blooming period for these plants is usually spring, summer, fall, and winter, and the type of soil they require is sandy and loamy, with an acidic to neutral pH. They can grow up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
How To Care Asparagus?
Asparagus demands patience and planning because it won’t be harvested for three years. Because asparagus is a perennial, you’ll want to put it in a position in the vegetable garden where it won’t be overshadowed by other plants.
Asparagus also requires a lot of room, roughly 4 to 5 feet per plant. They won’t spread much in the first few years, but once established, they’ll swiftly fill in. Heirloom cultivars require additional room since they include both male and female plants, which means they will generate seeds and self-sow.
Newer hybrid types are engineered to generate solely male plants that do not release seeds, requiring less area because they will only spread through the current crown. Plants can be planted from seed four weeks before the final frost is forecast.
Seeds, on the other hand, will lengthen your wait by many years. Growing asparagus from crowns, which are commonly accessible in the spring, is easier for the majority of people.
They have the appearance of a worn-out string mop, but they are still very much alive. Asparagus crowns’ roots, unlike those of many other plants, can endure some air penetration, so they’re frequently sold loose. They should appear solid and healthy, rather than wilted or mushy.
Planting asparagus crowns in a trench is the most popular method. In the spring, dig a trench 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Make mounds out of your compost, fertiliser, or other organic material, about 18 inches apart.
Spread the roots along the edges of the crown and place it on top of the mound. At its highest point, the crown should be about 6 inches below the soil line. Wrap the crown in dirt and give it plenty of water. As new shoots emerge, fill the ditch with more dirt until it is completely filled and flush with the soil line.
When preparing the bed, weeds should be removed, and weeding should continue until the asparagus plants are young. Weeds are difficult to remove from asparagus roots because they develop a closely woven mat.
To keep weeds at bay, mulch the asparagus bed. Other plants should not be added to the asparagus bed since they detest competitiveness for nutrients.
How To Grow Asparagus?
Full light is ideal for asparagus plants. You’ll end up with thin spears and weak plants that are prone to difficulties if you don’t get enough sunshine every day.
It’s worth the effort to enhance your soil before planting a long-lived perennial like asparagus. Make sure there’s plenty of organic matter in the soil and that the pH is between 6.5 and 7.0.
Remove any weeds and large stones from the area before planting.So that the plants do not sit in water, the soil must drain efficiently.
Water asparagus often, particularly when it’s young; give it 1 to 2 inches of water per week for the first two growth seasons, and 1 inch per week for older plants.
You’ll have fewer problems in future years if you give them a strong start when you initially plant them. Try incorporating a soaker hose or drip irrigation into the asparagus bed.
iv. Temperature and Humidity
During the growth season, the ideal temperature for asparagus is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. When the soil temperature hits 50 degrees in the spring, it will begin to sprout shoots.
Any frost after the shoots begin to develop will discolour them. Temperatures of over 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 55 degrees Fahrenheit may cause sluggish development.
Compost and an all-purpose organic fertiliser, as well as rock phosphate, a natural mineral powder that encourages root growth, should be added to the trench while creating your asparagus bed.
These nutrients will aid in the development of a healthy root system in your asparagus. Top coat the soil with compost once a year to keep it fertile and to feed the asparagus plants.
You may do this in the early spring before the sprouts develop, or after the fronds have died back and have been trimmed to the ground in the fall. Because asparagus is a strong feeder, you should fertilise it in mid-spring, when it is growing strongly.
Varieties of Asparagus
The latest cultivars have been developed to be completely male, meaning they will devote all of their energy to developing the plant rather than setting seed. Among the most common options are:
1. ‘Mary Washington’ is the most popular cultivar; it was developed to withstand rust.
2. ‘Jersey Giant’ yields young and is rust and fusarium wilt resistant.
3. ‘Brock Imperial’ is a high-yielding variety.
4. ‘Princeville’: A sweet purple variety that thrives in hotter regions.
5. ‘Purple Passion’: A sweet purple variety that thrives in hotter climes.
Green Asparagus vs White Asparagus
White asparagus would be the same plant as green asparagus, but it has been blanched to make it white. Blanching deprives the plant of light, preventing it from photosynthesizing.
To achieve this, the developing spears are covered with dirt or plastic tunnels. If the collected spears are quickly refrigerated to avoid fibre formation, the finished product is smooth, white, and almost fiber-free.
Harvesting asparagus spears should not commence until the third year after they’ve been planted. They require that time to develop themselves and develop their root systems. This is particularly true in the first year after planting, when the shoots are still small.
Patience is essential for growing strong, well-established asparagus plants. In the third year of cultivation, one can harvest a few spears. Because the plants aren’t entirely grown yet, harvest for two weeks and then leave the new spears to develop uninterrupted after that.
Fronds will unroll from the spears, forming the plant’s attractive, airy leaves. Harvest spears that are 5 to 7 inches long, even before the tip turns free in the fourth year. The spears can be snapped off or chopped with a knife just above the soil level.
If you use a knife, be cautious not to slice the later shoots that haven’t yet pushed through the earth. Harvesting might take up to three weeks. In the fifth year, they harvest for four to six weeks.
The shoots will emerge from the earth during the spring in successive years. The shoots will become spindly after you’ve been picking for more than a month and the weather begins to warm.
Allow the plants to develop their mature ferny leaves at this stage, which will nourish the roots for the following year’s harvest. Asparagus plants may live for 20 to 30 years and can be subdivided or replanted if they get congested or would benefit from a change of location.
Every year, prior new growth begins, asparagus plants must be pruned to the ground. This is something you can do in the late winter or fall. Clearing the dead leaves in the fall has the added benefit of avoiding pests such as asparagus beetles from overwintering on the plants. Some gardeners, on the other hand, like to leave the leaves for winter interest.
Asparagus Common Pests
In the garden, asparagus is quite trouble-free. Fusarium wilt can be an issue with older types, but resistant hybrid kinds can help you prevent it. The asparagus beetle is the most serious pest. When the spears sprout in the spring, keep an eye out for them.
In the afternoon is when they’re most active. When there are only a few beetles, handpick them and dump them in a pail of soapy water. Alternatively, diluted Neem oil should suffice to keep them at bay.