asparagus going to seed

seedsilly(4)July 10, 2008

My Jersey Giants are going to seed. Should I let them do their thing, or are you supposed prevent them going to seed? Also, anyone know if those will be viable seeds that I could harvest and sprout? Thanks!

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

You mean they are growing green seed berries? Jersey Giants are supposed to be all male so you shouldn't be seeing any berries on them. If you are then you didn't get Jersey Giants - at least not all of them - but most should have no berries. But there is nothing you can do to "prevent" it except rip out the plants which some do as they want only male plants for best production of edible spears.

Or do you mean the plants are turning into ferns? That is normal. That is what asparagus does.

But if you are getting seed berries then yes, once they turn red and dry you can grow plants from them.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 11:48PM
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I grow all males because they are larger and I want them to stay in rows for maintenance. If you have females and don't remove the seeds, you'll have asparagus everywhere - unmanageable asparagus bed, yard, flowers, landscapping, and all over your garden. I learned this from my first asparagus planting.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 8:43AM
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Looks like a female slipped into my order, I guess, because I for sure have some berries with black seeds inside. So far I only see the one going to seed. So if I want to use these seeds to make more plants, how long do I leave them on the plant before harvesting them? Do I dry them before I try to sprout them? Dumb question, will I get male or female plants from the seeds, or will that be up to chance?

Or, If I just prune the berried branches off, I'll prevent spreading but just won't have as much output from that particular gus? Wonder if Burpee would send me some male replacements?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:24AM
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I have a female in with mine - I recall most suppliers don't guarantee 100% all male. I wouldn't prune the fronds, but just pick the berries unless they are on just a few stems. They change color as they ripen, maybe to red but don't know how to tell when they're ripe enough to plant. Another option is to let them fall on the ground and sprout and then transplant - I've done this to fill in gaps in my rows. Don't know which sex you'll get.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:34AM
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I re-read digdirt's post. I will leave the berries on til they dry, then I might plant a few where I actually want them, let mother nature plant a few, and we'll see what we get next year I guess. Thanks so much for the help.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:53AM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

I wound up with a few females when I planted my gus bed. I planted mostly males but I also planted a few purple passion and Jersey Knights. Those few females re-seeded all over the place and have become a weed. Plus the birds "deposit" them willy nilly. I removed all the females last year because they were crowding my males. I replaced them with "all male." Jersey Giants. I recently discovered 2 new females in the bed and yanked them. I'm sure there'll be more.

The females are not as productive as the males and for me, they're more work than they're worth.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 2:14PM
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hercules(PA 6a)

seedsilly (interesting handle!) ~grin~

FIY, all-male plants produce very tiny bell-shaped flowers...dearly loved by little bees and such. BUT, they produce no berries. Since you actually have berries, a female slipped into the mix of crowns you bought.

Several years ago, I was very curious about how an "all-male" plant is produced. Following up, I contacted and spoke with Scott Walker of Jersey Asparagus Farms. He very patiently explained the process (too lengthy to go into here), and added a caveat. He said that it's impossible to guarantee 100% males, and that the several Jersey varieties are typically male in 90+% of the crowns they supply. The problem is errant bees which may visit other (perhaps roadside) plants, collect pollen, then visit Jersey Asparagus Farms and contaminate the crop with that outside pollen. They have pretty tight controls in place, but "leaks" do occur.

Hope this helps with a little understanding of the process. Herding bees has to be right up there with the difficulty of herding cats! ~grin~

Hal (yank the female! anything with female parts or having wheels spells trouble --- I'm ducking now!) :-)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 5:28PM
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akapeggy, I'm tempted to dig it up now, but would really like a few babies. If I dig up the female now, the seeds will not be viable yet I'm guessing? Maybe I'll hold off and try to dig it up right after the seeds start to dry and try to gather errant berries. Oh well, not like I've never had anything get out of control in my garden before.

Hercules, thanks for your post, that was very interesting. And I've noticed the tiny flowers and was hoping those were not precursors to berries. And yes, we females are nothing but trouble. All we do is birth and raise kids, do laundry, cook, clean, pay the bills, do all the gardening (in my house anyway), plan and pack for our trips, earn a paycheck...I tell ya, too bad we don't do any work! Oh that's right, the males are just here to look pretty and attrack us hard working types! Just kidding :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 10:32AM
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hmmm, i never did notice the females being less productive but i shall look for that now, we are never short of spears and i think we have a pretty even healthy male/female mix, after all they are all in the same bed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 10:44AM
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I also have Jersey Giants, 2 of which are females. They may not be as productive in growing spears in the spring, but aren't bad either. I saved the seed from one of the females several years ago and started them inside the following winter. It takes a lot of patience, and they won't produce good spears until their 3rd season. Now that they are established, they are some of my best producers.
John A

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 1:03PM
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John, that is great to hear! Did you let the berries dry and shrivel on the fern? I ask because I'd love to start some now, but I assume the seeds are not done cooking yet. Maybe I'll pop a few in a container of annuals I have going and see if anything happens. And as you can maybe tell from my handle, I love starting things from seed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 2:27PM
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hercules(PA 6a)

Hi again, seedsilly:

Loved your comments! Touche!

With all due respects to John, though, female 'gus plants don't contribute to a productive bed even close to the productivity of all-male Jersey plants...and never will. Male crowns will out-produce the females by well over 60% (proven by many studies by Rutgers University and others nationwide), even while we males of the human variety are still under investigation and suspect. :-)

With that said, enjoy your seeds and experiment at will. After all, gardening is supposed to be fun as well as for providing us with many yummy, fresh products. (things with wheels...and some with female parts...still drive me a bit nuts at times!) ~smile~

Hal in PA

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 6:00PM
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...not knowing anything from nothing, about 20 years ago I planted a patch (maybe 2 feet by 4 feet) of seed. I think maybe 4" apart. I kinda think it was Martha Washington seed. I let the patch go for two years, then dug a trench late in March along the long edge of the patch. I "washed out" the crowns, and bagged them for a couple months. Late May, I did a trench planting of maybe half of the crowns I harvested. I let the new patch go a couple years and started picking the 3rd year. Never paid much attention to female or male plants, just cut the whole mess down at the end of the year and composted the fern heads. I always noticed a lot of berries, and last year I cut the seed heads and kept them over the winter in the garage. Out of a patch maybe 15 feet square, I ended up with 2-3 gallons of seed pods. If the female plants don't produce edible spears, I couldn't tell. We still eat real good every spring. Curiously, now I noticed today, I only have 2 or 3 fern heads with seed pods on them this year...what's up with that???

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:26PM
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