Asperges (Asparagus officinalis) is a member of the lily family. It’s been grown for at least 2,000 years and is very common in the home garden now. On the other hand Asparagus is a wonderful source of vitamin A and contains significant levels of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamine and Vitamin C.
Asparagus is a perennial and will produce for several years when properly planted and maintained. It’s underground storage roots and streamlined stems called rhizomes. The roots shop food as well as the rhizomes produce edible shoots or asparagus spears. If the spears aren’t harvested, they quickly develop into fern-like bushes 4 or more feet tall. The foliage creates carbohydrates, which is again stored in the roots.
Asparagus has both male and female plants. Both genders flower and the female plants produce small, round, red berries in the autumn. Female plants don’t live as long or create in addition to male plants.
Asparagus growing conditions
Asparagus climatic Requirements
Asparagus is a cool-season vegetable and prefers cool temperatures with no frosts through the growing season. It is better adapted to the Cumberland Plateau and the high elevations of East Tennessee compared to West Tennessee, but will survive and produce important yields throughout the country given a suitable location.
Asparagus best location
It’s ideal to find asparagus plantings to the side of the vegetable garden along with other perennials like rhubarb, strawberries and brambles. This will keep the plants away from farming and other gardening activities. Asparagus should be planted where it will be given no less than seven or eight hours of sun on sunny days. East or west slopes are preferable to west or south slopes, as they are slower to heat in the spring. Early developing asparagus spears are often killed by late freezes.
Asparagus will survive in almost any well-drained soil. The best soils for asparagus are loose and deep, such as sandy loams. Heavy-textured clays and shallow soils should be avoided, because they restrict root growth and encourage root rots. Extremely sandy soils may not retain enough moisture for vigorous asparagus development. Soils that warm up quickly in the spring promote early growth and harvest. This might be a drawback, as growing asparagus spears grow gradually in very cold weather and will be killed to the ground by freezes. Asparagus grows best on soils with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5.
‘Martha Washington’ is a classic, standard asparagus variety. ‘Mary Washington’ seems to be a newer, improved cultivar. ‘Purple Passion’ is a relatively new variety with huge spears and a high sugar content.
In the last few decades there have been numerous new hybrid varieties released. These varieties usually create all or most male plants. This raises their return, because male plants produce about 25 percent more than female plants and as a result of hybrid vigor.
Asparagus fertilizer and lime
Asparagus grows best on soils with a pH of 6.0-6.5. Take a soil sample to determine lime, phosphate and potash levels prior to planting. Additionally, before spears emerge in the spring and after harvest, annually supplement the above fertilizer recommendations with just one pound of ammonium nitrate or its equivalent per 100 square feet of asparagus bed.
Asparagus spacing and planting
Plant asparagus early in the spring when it’s still dormant, usually in February or early March.
Asparagus plants can be started from seed, but this isn’t suggested for home gardeners. Germination of asparagus seed is slow and weeds can be tricky to control. Plants grown from seed have been transplanted into a permanent bed the following spring; so asparagus grown from seed also needs a longer period to start bearing.
It’s preferable to buy 1-year old dormant crowns. This will cut the time before harvest by at least one year and eliminate caring for the very small seedlings the first year.
Dig a trench 6 to 8 inches deep and put the implants at the bottom. Space the plants 15 to 18 inches apart and leave 3 to 4 feet between rows. Spread the roots evenly and cover them with 2 to 4 inches of soil. Fill the rest of the trench after the plants begin growth.
Don’t try and fill in skips in an old planting with young plants, as the remaining old plants will inhibit the development of younger, smaller plants. If seedlings appear in an old planting, they are pulled out or transplanted to another place.
During the first growing season, apply sufficient water to wet the soil 1 foot deep once weekly. If it does not rain, then this may require up to 1 inch of water. After the first growing season, watering every other week is generally adequate. A 2-inch coating of an organic mulch such as shredded leaves or pine needles will be of substantial aid in keeping moisture, as well as in reducing weed growth. Mulch will also reduce changes in soil temperature during the winter which, in turn, will decrease the incidence of crown rot.
Trickle or drip irrigation is better than sprinkler irrigation, as it reduces the potential for foliage diseases.
These systems might have to be run for at least two hours to wet the soil to the required depth of 1 foot.
Asparagus weed Control
Weeds must be controlled if asparagus is to perform well. They may be removed or pulled using a hoe, cultivator or rototiller, but cultivation has to be shallow to prevent harm to the asparagus roots.
Organic mulches such as grass clippings, leaves or straw help control weeds, in addition to retaining moisture. Apply a 2- or 3-inch coating in the fall after the foliage dies. This will reduce weeds throughout the year. The asparagus spears will emerge through the mulch in the spring. Don’t use table salt or other additives to control weeds in asparagus. They build up in the soil and reduce yields, in addition to shortening the lifespan of the asparagus planting.
Asparagus disease control
Asparagus is subject to asparagus rust and fusarium crown or root rot. Rust appears as small, reddish-yellow spots on the stems near the ground. Spores may be scattered by the wind and, when adequate moisture is present, all of the plants may be infected. Fusarium rot attacks feeder rootlets, main storage roots and plant crowns. It weakens and kills plants. It rarely produces wilt symptoms, except for young shoots of seedlings. The fungus accumulates in the soil and continues for several years. Asparagus spears infected with fusarium may show a brown surface discoloration. The varieties in this novel have some tolerance to fusarium. Additionally, anglers must always plant asparagus in well-drained soil, avoid replanting in older asparagus beds and maintain crowns cool throughout the winter using organic mulches.
Asparagus insect control
Asparagus beetles are the key insect attacking asparagus. They’re 1/4 inch long, blackish beetles with yellowish to- orange markings on their wings. They over winter as adults in garbage around the backyard and in older asparagus stalks. The adults feed on young spears and attach miniature, black eggs to both spears and foliage. Larva hatch from the eggs and feed on the plant. In severe infestations, the majority of the leaves may be ruined.
Begin charge of asparagus beetles by eliminating old foliage as soon as it’s killed by freezing weather. Burn this residue or turn it under. Asparagus beetles are easily killed
By accessible home garden chemicals.
Asparagus shouldn’t be harvested the year it’s planted. A mild harvest of approximately two weeks the next year increases the amount of buds on the crowns and result in subsequent higher yields. Harvest for around four weeks the next year and six to eight months afterwards.
Harvest by snapping the spears off at the ground level when they are 6 to 10 inches tall. This will lead to less harm to un emerged spears and less prospect of introducing disease to the plant compared to the standard harvesting way of cutting the spears under the ground level. It’s desirable to harvest at least every other day during cool weather and daily during warm weather to stop spears from growing too tall. Too many spindly spears indicate storage roots that are weak. Cease harvest for the season if a lot of spindly spears appear. Additional fertilizer may be required and the crop season might have to be shortened in future years.