planting asparagus : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have started asparagus in the house from heirloom seed. It is ready to be planted outside but I haven't found any information giving the specifics on how. I know that you don't cut the plant back until the fall, that it takes a couple of years before it produces stalks and that I LOVE to eat it. Is there any special soil preparation, how much space between plants, etc? Thanks in advance. I know your replies will be helpful!

-- Melissa (, April 20, 2000


We've planted asparagus from seed, but it had been so long that I couldn't remember the spacing, so I looked in the New Seed Starter's Handbook, by Nancy Bubel. She says to "plant the seeds one to two inches apart in a nursery bed. Transplant the plants out of the nursery row no later than the second year because older plants grow deep roots which must be sacrificed in digging up. Transplant them about 15 inches apart, in rows 3 to 4 feet apart." She also says, " We now know that the heroic measures formerly used to plant asparagus on soil mounds in 18-inch deep trenches are not necessary. Roots planted 2 to 8 inches deep do just as well. You can even set the crowns on the soil surface and mound 3-inch ridges of soil above them, according to some researchers, who say that although the effect of this method on asparagus yields has not been studied, crown survival was excellent. Growing conditions: The permanent asparagus bed can be well prepared while the seedlings are growing. Dig in plenty of limestone and well-rotted manure and make certain the ground is well drained and well aerated. Plants that produce male flowers are somewhat more productive than the berry-producing females, so some growers cull out berried asparagus plants. Mulch the bed and wait until the second year to take your first two- to three-week harvest. After five years you can pick for ten weeks." I don't think I can add anything to that, except that, until the old house next door was moved to a new location, there was an old asparagus bed by the front door that was at least forty years old, and was still producing, with absolutely no care. So you might as well pick a good spot for your plants -- they will likely outlive you!!

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, April 20, 2000.

I'm not an expert by any means, but my asparagus crop is doing very well now past its first year (stalks the size of my thumb round and over 4' tall). I planted ours from purchased roots last year about 6" deep, around 6-9" spaced, rows about 9-12" apart. I don't put much effort into exactly spacing anything, just sort of toss it in and forget about it. I did add in a few inches more soil last year (mostly compost so it wouldn't pack) when they first began growing through, but nothing since (rain has leveled the soil now anyway). These were planted in a screened greenhouse near corrugated steel I ran 18" into the ground to keep out gophers and other rodents. Our soil is mostly river bottom sand with a little peat moss added (high nutrient soil it "ain't"!). Ground water table is approximately 6'. This year we have double the shoots as last year, each will grow probably 6 feet high as last year and branch out like nuts. I kept them pretty well watered the first year, but totally ignoreed them through Winter. With a couple good rains this year, and my wife doing a little watering, I haven't done anything with the asparagus this year other than look at it while I'm grazing on parsely and broccoli. I'm not too good at gardening, just been at it for about 4 years, but from what I'm finding in my region is that the less I care about a plant, the better it grows. (Go figure!) The screened greenhouse lessens the sun's damaging rays, and everything inside does great (grapevines, tomatoes, carrots, asparagus, peppers, etc.). Heck, I even let half the plants go to seed each year so they'll come back up without me having to replant. Lazy, lazy, lazy....


-- Larry (, April 21, 2000.

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