Preparing your Soil for planting asparagus.
Shoot for a soil pH of about 7.0. Research shows that lower pHs soils are more conducive to growing Asparagus. Asparagus prefers sandy soil, anything you can do to raise the organic matter of the soil before planting will also pay big benefits. Adding compost and well rotted manure is probably the easiest way to do this.
Choosing your variety Varieties like Mary, Martha or Waltham Washington. Are unimproved, non-hybrid varieties. What hybrid means in the case of asparagus is “all-male” plants.
A non-hybrid will have about equal number of male and female plants. Female plants produce larger spears, but they also produce fewer spears.
Hybrid asparagus, Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight, Jersey Supreme and Jersey Gem are good choices.
UC 157 is widely grown in warmer areas, places like California and Mexico.
Asparagus crown needs to be planted deep. It is recommend using year old nursery grown crowns.
Asparagus needs to be planted in a trench. In sandy soil, that trench needs to be 8-10 inches deep.
Clay soils should have shallow trenches, about 6-8 inches in deep.
Rows are planted from 4 to 5 feet apart. Crowns should be planted 8-12 inches apart. Adding a little phosphate fertilizer is recommended and should be put in the trenches before the crowns are planted.
Be careful that the fertilizer you use does not also have enough potassium or nitrogen to burn the crown. Triple super phosphate, NPK 0-46-0, is a good choice.
Hint: Do not fill the trenches in completely. The best approach is to cover the crowns with about 3 inches of soil. Let the new plants grow through that soil for about 6 weeks and add another 3 inches of soil. Wait until the plants have gone dormant in the late fall or in the spring before growth begins to finish filling the trenches.
Do not harvest your asparagus the year you plant it or the year following planting. Asparagus plants needs to grow 3 years to become established to produce healthy crowns.
Year 3 after transplanting you can harvest the beds for about two weeks. Harvest, spears between 8 and 10 inches long. Harvest all of the spears that come up during the harvest period, even the small diameter ones call “whips”.
Fertilizing asparagus Asparagus is a heavy feeder of potassium and uses very little phosphorus. Asparagus is a light nitrogen use plant.
White asparagus White asparagus is not a variety. It is asparagus spears grown in the absence of sunlight so that chlorophyll does not develop. White asparagus does have a slightly sweeter taste and has less fiber than green asparagus.
The traditional way to grow white asparagus mound dirt up over the rows. Harvest when you see an asparagus tip just cracking through the soil. Dig the spear out of the dirt and cut it off.
An alternate way to raise white asparagus was developed by Dr. Jim Motes, an Extension Specialist from Oklahoma State University, is to place bent iron hoops over rows and cover them with thick black plastic.
Caution Be careful using this method. Temperatures under the black plastic can quickly rise to the point it will ‘burn’ your asparagus spears.
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