Growing a bed of asparagus takes some patience in the beginning, but a well-prepared garden patch will be prolific for years.
It’s best to start an asparagus crop with one-to-two-year-old crowns. Look for thick storage roots, which will provide the energy for developing ferns and spears.
Craig Anderson is an extension vegetable specialist at the University of Arkansas. He says asparagus needs to grow in deep, well-drained soil.
“It’ll send roots out 20-feet, and if it could it would send roots down 20-feet,” says Anderson. “But the one thing is cannot stand, is for that crown to be in wet, water saturated conditions because that’s where the diseases take over. That’s the biggest problem we have with asparagus, the root and crown diseases.”
Asparagus crowns can be planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Dig a trench that’s 15-18 inches wide, and 8-12 inches deep. Add in organic matter if you need to. Space the crowns a couple-of-feet apart, and cover them with two-inches of soil.
Anderson says the one thing that you do NOT want to do with asparagus is mulch it.
“The reason for that is that mulching actually causes the soil to warm up too quickly, and makes the crowns too active in the spring,” says Anderson. “Because of that, you’ll get spears coming up when you have a danger of frost or freezes.”
In its first year, the top growth will be spindly and should not be harvested. In the second year, don’t pick any spears that are less than the diameter of a pencil because they’re still expanding their root system.
Be sure to stay on top of weed control in the asparagus bed. Weeds compete with developing spears and decrease yield and quality.