How To Plant Asparagus Crowns [ Full Guide ]

Asparagus is a highly nutritious and delicious vegetable that can be easily grown in your own garden. Asparagus crowns are the most common way to start an asparagus patch, and they are easy to plant as long as you follow the right methods. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about planting asparagus crowns, from selecting the right crowns to preparing the soil and the step-by-step process of planting them.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Asparagus Crowns

To quickly summarize the process, planting asparagus crowns involves selecting the right crowns, choosing the best planting site, preparing the soil, and then planting the crowns according to specific depth and spacing requirements. Once planted, it’s essential to provide proper care and maintenance to ensure a bountiful asparagus harvest for years to come.

Selecting The Right Asparagus Crowns

When it comes to selecting asparagus crowns, it’s crucial to choose healthy, high-quality crowns to ensure successful growth and a productive asparagus patch. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting asparagus crowns:

1. Crown Size

Choose asparagus crowns that are at least 1-year-old as they establish more quickly and produce a harvestable crop sooner. Look for crowns that are thick, firm, and free from any signs of rot or damage.

2. Variety

There are different varieties of asparagus, each with its unique characteristics such as yield, flavor, and disease resistance. Some popular varieties include “Mary Washington”, “Jersey Knight”, and “Purple Passion”. Consider the climate and soil conditions in your area when choosing the variety best suited for your garden.

3. Source

Purchase asparagus crowns from a reputable supplier or nursery to ensure their quality and health. Avoid crowns that appear dried out or have mold growth, as these may not thrive when planted.

Choosing The Best Planting Site

Asparagus thrives in well-drained soil and requires a dedicated planting site that meets specific criteria for optimal growth. Here’s how to choose the best planting site for your asparagus crowns:

1. Sunlight

Select a planting site that receives full sun, as asparagus plants require adequate sunlight to thrive and produce a bountiful harvest. Aim for a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

2. Soil Drainage

Asparagus plants prefer well-drained soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues. Avoid low-lying areas where water tends to accumulate, and opt for a slightly elevated or sloped area with good natural drainage. If your soil has poor drainage, consider incorporating organic matter or using raised beds to improve the drainage conditions.

3. Soil Ph

Test the soil pH of the planting site to ensure it falls within the ideal range for asparagus, which is 6.5 to 7.5. If the soil is too acidic, consider adding lime to raise the pH, or if it’s too alkaline, sulfur may be added to lower the pH.

4. Space Considerations

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that can produce harvests for many years, so choose a site where the plants can remain undisturbed for an extended period. Consider the mature height and spread of asparagus plants when planning the spacing to ensure they have ample room to grow and thrive.

Preparing The Soil For Asparagus Planting

Proper soil preparation is essential for the successful establishment and long-term productivity of asparagus plants. Follow these steps to prepare the soil for planting asparagus crowns:

1. Clear The Area

Remove any existing weeds, grass, or debris from the planting area to create a clean and clear space for the asparagus bed. Use a shovel or a hoe to clear the area thoroughly, and consider using a weed barrier to prevent weed growth after planting.

2. Soil Testing

Conduct a soil test to determine its nutrient levels and pH. A soil test can provide valuable insights into the soil’s deficiencies and help you make informed decisions regarding soil amendments and fertilization.

3. Add Organic Matter

Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to improve its structure, fertility, and moisture retention. Work the organic matter into the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches to ensure it is thoroughly mixed.

4. Soil Amendments

Based on the results of the soil test, add any necessary soil amendments to address nutrient deficiencies or pH imbalances. Common soil amendments for asparagus include bone meal, rock phosphate, or a balanced fertilizer with higher phosphorus content to promote root development.

5. Soil Loosening

Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. This aerates the soil, promotes root penetration, and creates a loose, friable texture that is conducive to healthy asparagus growth.

Planting Asparagus Crowns: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you’ve selected the right crowns and prepared the planting site and soil, it’s time to plant the asparagus crowns. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure proper planting and establishment:

1. Dig Trenches

Incorporate the trenching method when planting asparagus crowns. Dig a trench that is approximately 12 inches wide and 6-8 inches deep. Space the trenches about 18 inches apart to accommodate multiple rows of asparagus plants, if desired.

2. Create Mounds

Within each trench, create small mounds of soil at the bottom. The crowns will be placed on top of these mounds, allowing their roots to spread out and establish easily.

3. Place The Crowns

Carefully position the asparagus crowns on top of the mounds in the trenches, spreading their roots out evenly. Space the crowns approximately 12-18 inches apart within the trench, ensuring that the buds (also known as the "eyes") are facing upward.

4. Cover With Soil

Gently cover the crowns with 2-3 inches of soil, ensuring that the crowns are completely buried, and the soil is firmly packed around them. As the plants grow, gradually fill in the trench with soil to cover the emerging shoots and encourage the development of additional roots.

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5. Watering

After planting, thoroughly water the asparagus bed to settle the soil and provide moisture to the newly planted crowns. Maintain consistent moisture levels in the soil during the establishment phase, ensuring it doesn’t dry out but also preventing waterlogging.

6. Mulching

Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, to the asparagus bed to conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and insulate the soil. Mulching also helps maintain uniform soil moisture and keeps the crowns protected during extreme temperatures.

7. Maintenance

Monitor the asparagus bed regularly for signs of weed growth, pests, or diseases. Keep the area around the plants clear of weeds, and apply any necessary pest control measures to protect the tender asparagus shoots.

Planting asparagus crowns is a rewarding and relatively straightforward process that, when done correctly, can result in a bountiful harvest of fresh, homegrown asparagus. By selecting the right crowns, choosing a suitable planting site, and properly preparing the soil, you set the stage for the successful establishment and long-term productivity of your asparagus patch. Following the step-by-step planting guide ensures that the crowns are planted at the correct depth and spacing, setting them up for healthy growth and abundant yields in the years to come. With regular care and maintenance, your asparagus patch can provide a perennial source of delectable spears for your culinary creations and bring joy to your gardening endeavors.

Watering And Fertilizing Asparagus Plants

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that can provide you with a bountiful harvest for many years. Growing asparagus from crowns is the most common method, as it is relatively easy and ensures a high success rate. Planting asparagus crowns requires careful preparation and attention to detail to ensure healthy growth and a productive crop.

Watering and fertilizing are essential aspects of asparagus plant care, especially during the establishment phase. Here is what you need to know:

Watering

Asparagus plants require consistent soil moisture to thrive. Ensure that the soil is well-drained but not overly dry. During the first year after planting, provide ample irrigation to encourage deep root establishment.

  1. Pre-Planting: Before planting the crowns, thoroughly water the planting area. This will help the crowns settle in and promote healthy growth.
  2. Establishment Phase: In the first year, water the crowns regularly, ensuring the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged. Aim to provide 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. This will help the crowns develop a strong root system.
  3. Mature Plants: Once the asparagus plants are established, they become more drought-tolerant. However, during dry spells, it is important to provide supplemental irrigation to ensure optimal growth and yield.

Fertilizing

Asparagus plants are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization to maintain their productivity. Here are the key fertilization guidelines:

  1. Before Planting: Prior to planting the crowns, it is recommended to incorporate organic matter, such as compost, into the soil. This will enhance soil fertility and provide a good nutrient base for your asparagus plants.
  2. Early Spring: Once the asparagus spears start emerging in the early spring, apply a balanced fertilizer with nitrogen (NPK 10-10-10 or similar). Apply at a rate of 1-2 pounds per 100 square feet of planting area. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates.
  3. Mid-Summer: Around mid-summer, apply a side-dressing of fertilizer to provide additional nutrients. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as blood meal or fish emulsion, at a rate of 1/4 to 1/2 pound per 100 square feet.
  4. Fall: In the fall, after the foliage turns yellow and dies back, cut it down and apply a layer of compost or well-rotted manure around the crown. This will help replenish nutrients in the soil and prepare the plants for the following year’s growth.

Mulching To Protect Asparagus Crowns

Mulching is an important practice that helps conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and insulate the soil around asparagus crowns. The following steps will guide you on how to properly mulch your asparagus plants:

  1. Timing: Apply mulch in late spring or early summer, once the soil has warmed up and the asparagus plants have emerged from the ground. This will prevent the mulch from smothering the emerging spears.
  2. Mulch selection: Organic mulches such as straw, shredded leaves, or wood chips work well for asparagus beds. Avoid using hay or grass clippings that may introduce weed seeds into the planting area.
  3. Application: Spread a layer of mulch around the asparagus plants, making sure to cover the entire bed. Aim for a thickness of 2-4 inches, taking care not to pile the mulch around the crowns of the plants.
  4. Weed control: Mulching helps to suppress weed growth around the asparagus plants. However, it is important to periodically inspect the bed and remove any weeds that manage to penetrate the mulch layer.

Managing Weeds Around Asparagus Beds

Weeds can compete with asparagus plants for nutrients, sunlight, and water, negatively impacting their growth and yield. Taking effective weed management measures is essential to ensure the health and productivity of your asparagus bed. Here’s how to manage weeds effectively:

  1. Mulching: As mentioned earlier, mulching is an effective weed suppression method. A thick layer of organic mulch will discourage weed growth by depriving weed seeds of light and preventing them from germinating. Regular inspection and removal of any weeds that penetrate the mulch layer will help maintain a clean asparagus bed.
  2. Hand Weeding: Regularly inspect the bed and manually remove any visible weeds. Be sure to pull the weeds out by the roots to prevent regrowth.
  3. Cultivation: Using a hoe or hand cultivator, gently cultivate the soil around the asparagus plants to disturb weed seedlings and prevent them from establishing. Be careful not to damage the shallow root system of the asparagus plants while cultivating.
  4. Cover Crops: Planting cover crops, such as clover or vetch, in the off-season can help smother weeds and improve soil health. These cover crops can be mowed or tilled in before the asparagus spears emerge in the spring.
  5. Herbicides: If manual methods prove insufficient, herbicides specifically labeled for use on asparagus can be used as a last resort. Always follow the instructions on the label and exercise caution while using herbicides to prevent any damage to the asparagus plants.
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Pest And Disease Control For Asparagus

Asparagus can be susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. Monitoring your plants regularly and taking appropriate actions can help prevent and manage these issues. Here are some common pests and diseases that affect asparagus:

Pests

  1. Asparagus Beetle: These beetles feed on the foliage of asparagus plants, causing defoliation and weakening the plants. Handpicking or using insecticidal soap can help control their population.
  2. Aphids: Aphids can also feed on the foliage, leading to stunted growth and the spread of diseases. Insecticidal soap or a strong water spray can be used to control these pests.
  3. Slugs and Snails: These slimy pests can chew on the tender spears and foliage of asparagus plants, causing damage. Handpicking, using traps, or applying organic slug and snail baits can help manage their populations.

Diseases

  1. Fusarium Crown and Root Rot: This fungal disease affects the roots and crowns of asparagus plants, causing stunted growth and yellowing foliage. Proper crop rotation, well-drained soil, and planting disease-resistant varieties can help prevent it.
  2. Rust: Rust is a fungal disease that appears as orange or brown pustules on the ferns and spears. Removing infected foliage and applying fungicides can help control its spread.
  3. Purple Spot: Purple spot is a bacterial disease that causes black or purple spots on the spears. Crop rotation, avoiding overhead watering, and planting disease-resistant varieties can help manage this disease.

Planting asparagus crowns can be a rewarding experience, providing you with years of delicious harvests. Proper care and maintenance, including watering and fertilizing, mulching, weed management, and pest and disease control, are essential for the health and productivity of your asparagus plants. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you’ll be on your way to growing robust and thriving asparagus beds in your garden. Enjoy the satisfaction of growing and harvesting your own fresh asparagus for years to come!

Planting Asparagus Crowns

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that is known for its tender and flavorful spears. While it requires some patience and care initially, asparagus plants can provide bountiful harvests for up to 20 years if properly maintained. The key to a successful asparagus crop is planting the crowns (bulb-like structures) correctly.

  1. Choosing the Right Location: Asparagus plants thrive in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Select a sunny location in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Avoid planting them in areas prone to waterlogging.

  2. Preparing the Soil: Asparagus plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Start by removing any weeds or grass from the planting area and loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. Incorporate well-rotted compost or aged manure to improve soil fertility and drainage.

  3. Determining Plant Spacing: Asparagus plants require enough space to spread their extensive root systems. Dig trenches that are 6-8 inches deep and 12-18 inches wide. Space the trenches approximately 4-5 feet apart to provide ample room for growth.

  4. Soaking and Inspecting the Crowns: Before planting, it’s important to soak the asparagus crowns in water for about 20-30 minutes. This will help rehydrate them and stimulate growth. While soaking, carefully inspect the crowns for any signs of damage or disease. Discard any crowns that appear shriveled, soft, or discolored.

  5. Planting the Crowns: Place the asparagus crowns in the trenches, spacing them approximately 18-24 inches apart. Ensure that the fleshy buds are facing upward and that the crown is positioned at a depth of about 6 inches in the soil. Gently cover the crowns with soil, leaving a small mound above the trench.

  6. Watering and Mulching: After planting, thoroughly water the asparagus bed to settle the soil and provide much-needed moisture to the crowns. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the newly planted crowns. Mulching will help suppress weed growth, retain soil moisture, and regulate soil temperature.

Supporting And Protecting Growing Asparagus Plants

  1. Installing Support Structures: Asparagus plants are tall and can grow up to 4-6 feet. To prevent the tall spears from leaning or falling over, it’s essential to provide adequate support. Install a trellis or support structure along the rows to keep the plants upright. You can use stakes and twine or netting to create a sturdy framework for the plants to grow against.

  2. Weed Control: Asparagus plants are susceptible to competition from weeds. Keep the planting area free from weeds by regularly pulling them out by hand or using a shallow hoe or cultivator. Mulching also helps in suppressing weed growth, making it easier to maintain weed-free beds.

  3. Fertilization: Asparagus plants benefit from regular fertilization to ensure healthy growth and abundant yields. In early spring, before spears emerge, apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio of 10-10-10 or similar. Follow the package instructions for proper application rates. Avoid over-fertilization, as it can lead to excess foliage growth without sufficient spear development.

  4. Pest and Disease Management: Asparagus can be affected by various pests and diseases, including asparagus beetles, aphids, rust, and fusarium wilt. Regular monitoring of your plants is crucial to catch any signs of infestation or disease early. If necessary, use organic pest control methods or consult with a horticulturist or a local extension service to identify the best course of action.

  5. Watering: Asparagus plants require consistent soil moisture, especially during the growing season. Aim to provide around 1-1.5 inches of water per week, either through rainfall or supplemental irrigation. Monitor the soil moisture levels and water deeply to encourage deep root development. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.

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Harvesting And Storing Asparagus Spears

  1. Determining Harvest Time: Asparagus crowns need at least two years to establish themselves before harvesting. The first year, allow all spears to grow without harvesting to promote strong root development. In the second year, you can begin harvesting spears, but only for a limited period, typically 2-3 weeks. Once established, you can harvest spears for 6-8 weeks each year.

  2. Harvesting Properly: Harvest asparagus spears when they reach a height of 6-8 inches and are still relatively tight and firm. To harvest, carefully cut or snap the spears at ground level, just below the soil surface. Use a sharp knife or your fingers to break off the spears, taking care not to damage neighboring emerging spears. Avoid harvesting spears that have started to fern out or become woody, as they will be tough and less flavorful.

  3. Storage: For the best flavor and tenderness, it’s ideal to consume freshly harvested asparagus spears within a day or two of harvest. To store them for a slightly longer period, place the harvested spears upright in a container with about an inch of water. Keep the container in the refrigerator and cover the spears with a plastic bag to retain moisture. Stored this way, asparagus can stay fresh for up to a week.

Overwintering Asparagus Plants

  1. Frost Protection: Asparagus is a hardy perennial that can tolerate cold temperatures. However, in regions with severe winters, it’s beneficial to provide some protection to prevent damage. After the first frost, cut back the ferns to a height of about 2 inches and remove any debris from the planting bed. Apply a layer of straw or shredded leaves over the crowns to insulate them during the winter months.

  2. Mulching Beds: Applying a thick layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, over the asparagus bed before winter can provide additional protection against extreme temperature fluctuations. This will help maintain more consistent soil temperatures and prevent the crowns from being exposed to frost heaving.

  3. Spring Cleanup: In early spring, as the weather begins to warm, remove the winter mulch and any remaining debris from the planting bed. This allows new shoots to emerge unhindered. Monitor the plants for any signs of pest or disease issues and take appropriate measures if needed.

Troubleshooting Common Asparagus Growing Issues

  1. Asparagus Beetle Infestation: Asparagus beetles are common pests that can defoliate the plant, leading to weakened growth. To control them, diligently handpick or vacuum up adult beetles and their eggs. You can also use insecticidal soap or neem oil as organic control options. Regularly inspect your asparagus plants for any signs of infestation and take prompt action to prevent widespread damage.

  2. Rust Fungal Disease: Rust is a common fungal disease that affects asparagus, causing orange or rust-colored pustules on the ferns. To control rust, ensure proper spacing between plants for good air circulation and remove any infected foliage promptly. Applying fungicides labeled for rust control can help manage the disease in severe cases.

  3. Fusarium Wilt: Fusarium wilt is a soilborne fungal disease that affects asparagus plants, causing stunted growth, yellowing, and wilting. There is no cure for fusarium wilt, so prevention is key. Before planting, ensure the soil is well-drained and free from any previous signs of the disease. Rotate crops regularly and avoid planting asparagus in the same area for multiple years to reduce the risk of infection.

  4. Poor Spear Development: If your asparagus spears are thin and weak, it may be a sign of inadequate nutrient availability or overly competitive weeds. Regularly fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer and maintain weed-free beds to promote healthy, vigorous growth.

  5. Overcrowded Crowns: Over time, asparagus crowns can become overcrowded, leading to reduced spear production and overall plant vigor. Divide overcrowded crowns every 4-5 years to maintain optimal plant health. Lift the crowns in early spring before new growth starts, carefully separate them, and replant the healthy divisions according to the recommended spacing.

Conclusion

By following the planting and maintenance guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can successfully grow and enjoy a bountiful harvest of asparagus for many years to come. Remember to provide the proper support, protect the plants from pests and diseases, harvest and store the spears correctly, and provide necessary winter care. With patience and care, your asparagus plants will reward you with delicious and nutritious spears season after season.

FAQS

What Is The Best Time To Plant Asparagus Crowns?

The best time to plant asparagus crowns is in early spring, typically in March or April when the soil temperature reaches around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Deep Should I Plant Asparagus Crowns?

Asparagus crowns should be planted at a depth of 6-8 inches in loose, well-drained soil.

How Far Apart Should I Space My Asparagus Crowns?

Asparagus crowns should be spaced about 18 inches apart in rows that are 4-5 feet apart.

How Often Should I Water My Newly Planted Asparagus Crowns?

Newly planted asparagus crowns should be watered regularly, keeping the soil moist but not saturated. A good rule of thumb is to water them about once a week during the first two years.

When Can I Expect To Harvest Asparagus From My Newly Planted Crowns?

Asparagus crowns take about 2-3 years to mature before you can harvest them. The first year after planting, you should avoid harvesting any spears that emerge, allowing them to grow and develop the plant’s root system. In the second year, you can harvest for a short period, but be careful not to take too many spears. By the third year, you can enjoy a full asparagus harvest.