Expert Tips for Growing Asparagus at Home
Want to add asparagus to your garden, but not sure where to start? From planting to harvesting, discover our useful asparagus growing tips.
Every spring, garden centers proudly offer shelves crammed with conventional grow-at-home vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, and so on. If you’re looking to branch out beyond those bountiful options, consider asparagus. Although it’s not necessarily a mainstay of backyard summer gardens, you can absolutely grow this tasty and nutritious veggie at home—and it’s not complicated to do it! Here’s how to have a fantastic asparagus growing season.
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Asparagus Growing Basics
Tender asparagus is a spring treat that’s easy to grow. Plant 1-year-old crowns in a sunny spot with plenty of compost. Hold off harvesting until the third year to give plants time to build up a healthy root system. Once established, expect to pick spears for up to eight weeks in the spring. Best of all, established asparagus is a perennial vegetable, meaning that it’ll come back every year with relatively little work from the gardener.
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“This is the ﬁrst year I’m able to harvest asparagus. Should I leave a couple spears on each plant to grow and feed the roots for future harvests?” asks Douglas Cestone of Glen Rock, New Jersey.
Horticultural expert Melinda Myers says, “Harvest all asparagus spears when they are 7 to 9 inches in size throughout the harvest period. Once the harvest period is complete, allow the shoots to form the ferny growth. Leave this intact throughout the season so it can produce energy and return it to the roots.
Recent research has found that making several harvests over a few weeks the ﬁrst year after planting does not harm the plants and actually encourages more budding. The second year, you can harvest for 4 to 6 weeks and the third and subsequent years harvest for 6 to 8 weeks. By then the temperatures are usually rising, the shoots are a bit tougher and the plants form the ferny growth even faster.”
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“My asparagus grows into branchy, thin stalks instead of being thick. What am I doing wrong?” asks Birds & Blooms field editor Kat Rucci of Orlando, Florida.
Melinda says, “Growing asparagus in Florida is a challenge. This perennial vegetable thrives in colder climates where the plants go dormant over winter. In hotter climates such as yours, the stems tend to be small and spindly. Make sure the plants receive sufficient water from spring through fall, but give them less attention throughout the winter.
Branching occurs when the spears begin sending out stems of ferny growth. You’ll see this once you stop harvesting the spears. As temperatures rise, this transition from branchless spears to ferny growth happens more quickly.”
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