So you love asparagus but have finally had it with the grocery store robbing you and selling you pesticide-laden, genetically modified frankenfood. You are ready to plant your own and cut some tender, delicious, succulent stalks right from your own garden.
Well hold your horses Tonto. Growing asparagus from seed takes at least two years, but its worth it because it its a perennial (comes back every year) and is super low maintenance. This article will walk you through growing your own asparagus.
First, start with a pack of Mary Washington asparagus from The Mauro Seed Company. They sell only non-GMO, heirloom vegetable seed. Best of all, for every pack of seed that you buy, they will donate a pack of seed to someone in need.
Next, get out in your garden in early spring and find a sunny spot with well drained soil. Get some organic matter and your tiller and prepare a bed with loose and well composted soil. Extra credit if you started preparing it over the winter. The key is to make sure you have about a foot of well tilled, soft, pliable soil.
If you are into science, asparagus likes soil pH between 6.5 to 7.5. If your pH balance is low, get some Secret - and add some lime into your soil/organic stuff concoction. Also, since asparagus likes to eat, add some 5-5-10 to the mix.
Now, form a trench in the row you want to plant. Make it about 6 inches wide. For cold climates - make it 8 inches deep; 4 for warmer climates. Place your seeds at the bottom of the trench - 18 inches apart in the row. Cover your seeds with 1-2 inches of your composted soil. Water to get out the air pockets and start germination. Make your rows 4 feet apart.
Germination from seed can take up to 4 weeks so be patient. Seed started asparagus develops good roots and resists some common diseases. As the plant sprouts and grows, continue to add soil around the plant until you no longer have trenches. Be sure to not cover the plant’s top 3 inches of growth.
The first year is the establishment year so you won’t get a meaningful harvest until the second year. Once it is time, you will have about 4 weeks to harvest - sometimes twice a day. When the plants have tight tips and are a bit larger than a pencil, break the plant off at the soil. Hooray!
Once the frenzy is over, we recommend letting some stalks grow into ferns and keeping these throughout the winter. This protects the plant over the winter and feeds the roots for a bumper crop the next year.
Do asparagus right. A little work will pay off for years and years.