Questions on planting asparagus

port_gardenerApril 6, 2012

I have ten 2-year old Jersey Knight asparagus crowns that I am about to plant in my garden. Not knowing much about how to plant and care for them them, I am finding some conflicting information on the internet.

The Ohio State University Extension has a detailed fact sheet on growing asparagus: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1603.html

It advises to dig a furrow and simply toss the crowns into the furrow, stating "the plants will grow regardless of how they land so don't bother to spread the roots."

It goes on to state "After planting, back fill the furrow to its original soil level. It isn't necessary to gradually cover the crowns with a few inches of soil until the furrow is filled in."

However, I found instructions on "The Tasteful Garden" (http://www.tastefulgarden.com/store/pc/Asparagus-Jersey-Knight-hybrid-62p619.htm) which explain:

"As the asparagus begins to grow, gradually fill in the furrow with soil. (Be careful not to cover any of the asparagus foliage.) The furrows should be filled to ground level by the end of the first growing season."

The OSU Extension also says about harvesting:

"Harvest asparagus by snapping 7 to 9 inch spears with tight tips. There is no need to cut asparagus below the soil with a knife. This may injure other buds on the crown that will send up new spears."

However, the Tasteful Garden says: "Use a knife to harvest spears. Use one hand to hold the top of the spear you are harvesting. Cut the spear off about one inch below the soil line."

Can anyone with asparagus experience help educate me? Should I just throw these crowns into a hole and loosely cover them up? Or do I need to "gradually" fill them in as they grow?

Also, with 2-year old crowns, do I need to wait for a full growing season before harvesting? Or can I start harvesting this summer if the shoots are large enough?

Thanks!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First, no you cannot harvest this first year. Well you 'can' since no one will stop you, but you shouldn't. And go easy next year too for best results.

Second the Ohio State article isn't really off-base when it comes to planting. They will grow but it is better IME to arrange them just a bit. The point is you don't have to get carried away with arranging them perfectly or follow the age old guidelines of build a hill in a 12" deep trench and carefully arrange the roots around the hill with the crown perfectly centered on top etc. OK?

6=8" trench is the recommended depth for planting rather than the old 12" deep trench. As to the refilling rather than just covering and leveling - the gradually refilling approach is more so you can see which one take and which ones don't and can easily replace if needed. Either way works fine because if one never comes up you can always replace it in that space next year.

Harvesting is mostly a personal preference - snap off vs. knife and at soil level vs. just below. The below soil level/sharp knife approach is supposed to discourage asparagus beetles from laying their eggs in the cut stems. I'm of the cut with knife at soil level then cover lightly school. That way I don't hurt anything.

Hope this helps.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 6:34PM
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leira(6 MA)

I haven't planted my crowns yet (I'm still building beds!), but I also noticed the differences between the OSU Extension and pretty much everyone else. If I recall correctly, they also recommend planting the crowns more shallowly than many do, and say that there is no value in harvesting lightly the second year, and that it can actually be detrimental to do so. They suggest they've done studies (or at least simple side-by-side comparisons) on the topic.

So...generally speaking, I would tend to think "OSU has actually done some tests, and they know what they're talking about" and think that their advice might be better than the conventional wisdom, no matter how conventional it might be.

But again, given that I haven't yet grown any asparagus myself, I'm wondering the same things you are.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 8:07PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

The only reason to plant more then 6-8 inches deep is to have bleached/white spears. To do this you will need 12-18 inches deep & an asparagus Knife.
Check out the link & read the Harvest & Storage on a third technigue. It tells how to harvest asparagus in July!

Here is a link that might be useful: Gus in July

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 1:43AM
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