Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: What to do with Asparagus
A Garden Bite listener told me she’d just bought a new home and there was an asparagus bed. She wondered what to do with it. First it would be good to know how old it is, or that you know it’s at least 3 years old. That’s how long it takes for asparagus to really be harvestable.
Fall is a time when the plants, that fuzzy top growth, can be cut back all the way to the ground. You can also do this in the Spring but the recommendation is, when you remove the dead foliage in the Fall, it prevents problems, like asparagus beetles, from over-wintering. (Click on the link above for more information)
As for planting and growing, asparagus want full sun. The spears only get 6 – 8 inches long, but the mature plants will grow approximately 5 ft. tall x 3 ft. wide. Check out the growing guide from Cornell University.
Harvest for about 4 weeks in year 3. In subsequent years shoots continue emerging from the soil throughout the spring. Asparagus Recipes
After you’ve been harvesting for a couple of months and the weather starts to warm, the shoots will begin to get spindly. At this point, allow the plants to grow into their mature ferny foliage, which my listener called “fluffy”!
This feeds the roots for next year’s crop. Asparagus plants can continue producing for 20 years or more.
Plant crowns in the Spring, if you plant seeds, you can expect to wait even longer for any spears worth harvesting! I’ll have much more on planting asparagus next Spring. In the meantime, some varieties to consider are ‘Mary Washington’, the most common and bred for rust resistance; ‘Jersey Giant’ that’s resistant to fusarium wilt and rust, it also yields earlier, which is better for those of us in cold climates and ‘Purple Passion’