Asparagus is a popular vegetable that is often enjoyed in a variety of dishes. However, if you’re not familiar with how to grow asparagus, you may find it difficult to produce yields that are satisfactory. In this article, we’ll teach you the basics of growing asparagus so that you can enjoy this delicious vegetable at your home.
What is asparagus?
Asparagus is a vegetable that belongs to the same family as onions and garlic. It is a perennial plant that grows in temperate climates and has long, thin, green stalks.
The asparagus plant can grow up to 1.5 meters tall and produce small, white flowers. The asparagus vegetable is the young shoot of the plant and is harvested when it is around 15-20 centimetres long. It is a popular ingredient in many dishes and is known for its distinct, earthy flavour.
Types of asparagus
This vegetable belongs to the lily family along with onions, garlic, and leeks. There are three basic types of asparagus – green, white, and purple.
- Green asparagus is the most common type and has a slightly bitter taste.
- White asparagus is grown underground, so it doesn’t produce chlorophyll and, as a result, has a sweeter taste.
- Purple asparagus is a hybrid of the two and has a milder flavour. Asparagus is a good source of fibre, vitamins A and C, and is low in calories. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled and is a popular ingredient in many dishes.
How to grow asparagus?
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that can be a bit finicky to grow, but the results are well worth the effort.
Asparagus prefers a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Although asparagus plants can be grown from seed, it usually takes a few years before the spears are ready. It’s easier to buy asparagus crowns, which are mature plants that can be planted and harvested in the same year.
To plant asparagus, dig a trench about eight inches deep and 18 inches wide.
Space the crowns about 18 inches apart in the trench. Cover the crowns with two inches of soil and then fill in the trench. As the asparagus spears grow, they continue to fill in the trench.
Asparagus is a bit of a slow starter, so be patient. The first year after planting, the plants will focus on developing their root system. They won’t produce any spears. In the second year, you may get a few spears, but the plants won’t be fully productive until the third year.
Once your asparagus plants mature, they will produce spears for several weeks. When the spears are about six to eight inches tall, you can start harvesting them. Just snap off the spears at the base. Be sure to leave some spears unharvested so the plants can continue to produce.
A soil preparation guide for growing asparagus is essential. The best time to prepare the soil is in the fall, before the first frost.
A good starting point is to add organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, and improve drainage. You can also add lime if your soil is high in acidity. For growing asparagus in containers, select a well-drained potting soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
To prepare the soil for planting, mix 1 part organic matter with 5 parts soil and work it into the surface until it’s evenly distributed. Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil® is ideal for asparagus plants in containers, as it is specially formulated for container gardening. Adding 2 cups of Garden Soil per gallon of water will give you the perfect balance of nutrients and moisture for healthy plants.
When planting asparagus crowns, make sure they are positioned so they can reach sunlight and water. Space them at least 3-4 feet apart, but closer if the plants are robust enough.
If you’re starting seeds indoors four to six weeks before transplanting them into the garden, sow them ¼ inch deep in moistened soil and keep them warm until they germinate. Once they do, thin to one plant per pot and water regularly.
When and how to plant asparagus for the best results?
When planting asparagus, make sure the soil is firm and well-drained. Asparagus grows best in sandy or loamy soils with good drainage. You can plant asparagus in early spring, just before the ground starts to warm up, or in late summer after the soil has cooled down.
Make a hole about twice the width of the asparagus spears and deep enough for the root ball to sit in. Fill in around the hole with soil and gently tap the root ball against the side of the hole to settle it in. Water well and fertilise if desired.
Care and maintenance
Once the plants are established, there are still things you need to do to ensure a good harvest.
- Mulch the plants to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- Remove any dead or diseased plants
- Pick the spears as they become ready, usually mid-to-late spring
- Water sparingly during hot weather, letting the soil dry out between waterings in cold weather
- Fertilise regularly with a balanced fertiliser that includes nitrogen
- Harvest when spears are firm and slightly angled inward
- Cut off the top of the spear just below the roots and wash carefully in cold water to remove any dirt or debris
When to harvest asparagus and how to do it properly?
When harvesting asparagus, there are three main times to do it: during the early growth phase, when the spears are about 4 inches long; during the middle growth phase, when they are 6 to 8 inches long; and finally, after they have grown a bit more and become a bit woody. Once you know when they are ready, follow these easy steps:
- Dig up the asparagus roots with a shovel.
- Cut off any tough ends of the spears with a knife. Be careful not to damage the other spears or the roots when harvesting.
- Break off the spears where they grow from the ground with your hands or a spade.
- Hang the spears up by tying them together at either end with string or ribbon.
- After harvesting, wash the asparagus spears and trim the ends before cooking.
How To Store Fresh Asparagus
The best way to store freshly cut asparagus is to store them in an upright position in a jar that fills just the bottom with water. If your asparagus is store-bought, snip the ends off first to open up the ends. It’s just like putting flowers in a flower vase, but with just a tad bit less water. You only need the water to cover about a half inch of the base of the asparagus spears.
Next, cover the whole thing with a plastic bag and sit it in the refrigerator.
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- Shrimp and asparagus spaghetti squash spaghetti
We hope you enjoyed the article on how to grow asparagus! By following these tips, you will have success in growing your own asparagus spears.