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Asparagus is extremely nutritious and has many health benefits! Asparagus is one of the first vegetables to harvest in the spring, and gets top dollar at the supermarket.
Asparagus grows best in well-drained, fertile soils with a pH range of 6.8 to 7.2. Apply enough lime to raise the soil’s pH to the necessary level. When choosing your site, plan for a permanent spot in a sunny location.
In early spring, apply a garden fertilizer of 5-10-10 at a rate of 5 lbs. per 100 square inches. Till your soil deeply, working in all of the fertilizer. Make sure your bed is free of weeds, then make furrows about 8-10” deep and 4-5’ apart. Plant the asparagus crowns approximately 12-14” apart within the row. Cover with only 2”of soil. As the plant produces ferns, slowly fill in the trench. By the end of summer, the trench should be at soil level. In early August, side-dress the plants with 5-10-10 at a rate of 1 pound per 20 linear feet. Work lightly into soil, being careful not to disturb the crowns and fern. Allow the fern to grow all season, keeping it weed-free and irrigating as needed.
You will see tender spears emerging, but resist the urge to harvest them until after the first year. Cut for about 2 weeks. You'll have greater yields and healthier plants in subsequent years if they develop strong roots the first year. The spears will grow into lacy ferns, which store energy and food for the growing plants. The next year cut only for about 4 weeks. The 3rd season you should be able to harvest for the entire season. One of the easiest ways to harvest is to simply snap the spear off at its base. After harvest, be sure to maintain good growing conditions. Allow the ferns to grow throughout the entire season and remove only after they naturally die back. The ferns help nourish the crowns which should increase in size each year.
A well-tended planting yields 8 to 10 lbs. or more per 100 square foot of bed, or 24 to 30 pounds per 100’ row. Asparagus lasts 15 to 25 years without replanting if it is well cared for and the climate is suitable. It does not do well if summers are extremely hot and long, and winters are mild.
At shipping time, your plants will just be emerging from dormancy. Plant them immediately to avoid any plant injury. BE SURE TO WATER YOUR PLANTS REGULARLY THIS FIRST SEASON TO HELP GET THEM ESTABLISHED.
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