Planting and growing asparagus in your garden takes a little work but a lot of patience. Asparagus is a cool spring weather crop that takes 3 years from seed to first light harvest. Therefore, it is wise to either visit a local nursery or hit the mail order catalogs to get asparagus plants that have either 1-year-old roots or even better yet plants that have established 2-year-old roots. The choice is yours, Jim Crocket of the famous book “Crockett’s Victory Garden” said he preferred to purchase 1-year-old roots as he thought when the 2-year-old asparagus roots were dug at the nursery so much of their root structure was left behind, making them slow to recover. His book is useful however quite old; the copywrite is 1977, so chances are; improvements have been made in later years to make purchasing asparagus plants better. Mr. Crockett also likes to use 10-10-10 fertilizer along with compost and you may prefer to do so too, however, if you were attempting to plant an organic garden you would skip that step. According to Dr. Mercola of Mercola.com, “Asparagus is a good source of vitamins A, C and E, B-complex vitamins, potassium and zinc. It is also high in glutathione, an important anticarcinogen a chemical that reduces the chance and severity of cancer.” To this author eliminating the fertilizer only makes sense.
According to the Purdue extension office, “Asparagus can be planted throughout Indiana from early April to late May, after the soil has warmed up to about 50 degrees F. There is no advantage to planting the crowns in cold, wet soils. They will not grow until the soil warms and there is danger of the plants being more susceptible to Fusarium rot if crowns are exposed to cold, wet soils over a prolonged period. Plant the asparagus at either the west or north side of the garden so that it will not shade the other vegetables and will not be injured when the rest of the garden is tilled.”
1. Using a rotiller, till up the garden space, to loosen the soil, so it is easier to work with when planting and growing asparagus. Dig a row, furrow or trench; what ever you prefer to call it, approximately 12-inches deep and 18-inches wide. The first few inches will just be loose soil, fill the row in with 4-inches of old compost, pat down to firm the row.
2. Place the asparagus roots into the row 1 ½ to 2 feet apart. Jim Crockett suggests fanning out the roots making them look like an octopus. If you will be planting more than one row of asparagus, space them 4 to 5 ft apart from center to center.
3. Gently cover the asparagus roots with 2-inches of garden soil. As the asparagus spears grows, gently add more soil until the row of asparagus is flush.
purple aparagus shoot
Now the patience begins, planting and growing asparagus spears big enough to harvest and cook will take years. However, an asparagus bed properly taken care of will last for many years, producing many pounds of delicious asparagus spears.