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Homegrown Gourmet: Asparagus How-To

Asparagus WEB

Nothing measures up to the delicate sweet flavor of homegrown asparagus! Enjoying this crop is an investment of time and space, but well worth the reward (for inspiration on just how worth the reward it is, see some of our favorite asparagus recipes on our Garden Recipes Pinterest board here).  This delicious vegetable is very low in calories and a good source of nutrients. As it grows, it makes an attractive plant and can produce for up to 15 years.

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Choose asparagus crowns at NHG from late January through the planting month of February. You can choose from 1, 2 or 3-year crowns of varieties ‘Mary Washington’ (female) and ‘Jersey Knight’ (male). Generally, female plants produce more, but smaller spears, while male plants produce fewer, but larger spears.

SITE: Asparagus does best in a location that will remain undisturbed for several years, as it takes 2‐3 years to produce well. Choose a site in full sun and thoroughly amend the soil with plenty of organic matter.

PREP: Dig a trench at least 10” deep and 10” wide—you’ll want to allow 18”‐24” between each crown you’re planting, so plan the length accordingly. Space trenches 4’ apart.

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Add 2” of well‐rotted manure blended with compost to the bottom of each trench. Add NHG organic Herb & Veggie food at the rate of 1‐2 teaspoons per linear foot; blend into the compost base. Backfill the trench with 1” amended garden soil and rake lightly to blend with compost/fertilizer blend in bottom of trench. Make a slight mound of the amended soil down the center of the trench, and you’re ready to plant!

IMG_6245PLANT: Place the crowns in late winter over the mound in the trench 18”‐24” apart with the roots spread outward (if you’re planting two rows, stagger the crowns in the rows so that they aren’t directly across from each other). Immediately cover the crowns with 3” of compost to prevent drying out; then water them in well.

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In several weeks, the first young spears will appear. As they grow, you should gradually add soil around the shoots, eventually filling up the trench until it is level with surrounding soil.Mulch around the growing plants with 2” of organic matter to reduce water loss and discourage weeds.

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HARVEST: Leave all spears to grow the first year. Spears should be allowed to mature into the ferny foliage, which will support the growth and development of the roots for years to come.

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Cut only sparingly the second in order to encourage a great crop for the third year. Ongoing fertilization will be similar to your organic lawn schedule: early spring, late summer, and fall.

Check out our Asparagus Planting Guide as well as our schedule of events and classes here and stop in soon to select asparagus crowns for your garden!

Read more about winter gardening:
Year-round Vegetable Gardening in North Texas
February Food Garden: Time for Potatoes and Asparagus
February Food Garden: Grow Rhubarb and Horseradish

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