Growing Asparagus

Usually asparagus is sold as an immature plant that is transplanted into our garden. However, we will be growing ours from seeds.
I have never tried growing asparagus so this will be new territory for me. But I like learning new things.
The Jersey Knight is low in calories, contains no cholesterol and is very low in sodium. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
It is a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium.
The steam is the part that is harvested and eaten. When cut, this plant will continue to grow back making it a good source of food. The Jersey Knight is a female plant.
It has a tender taste and can be eaten raw, cooked or dried for eating later. I have even seen some pickled asparagus. I must admit that I have not eaten much asparagus myself.
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that can thrive for 15 years or more. It likes a sunny or only partially shaded spot richly fertilized with compost or aged manure and limed to a pH of 7.0 or higher.
If planting immature plants, space crowns 8 inches apart for slender spears to 14 inches apart for thick spears in a trench 6-8 inches below ground level. Space rows 3-5 feet apart. Keep free of weeds and irrigate.
To fill trench, add soil 3 times during the first few weeks as the plants grow, ending with a slight mound to prevent puddles. Heavy hay, straw, or leaf mulch may be applied in mid-summer.
The \”ferns\” that grow feed the roots; don\’t cut them back until they die naturally in the fall. Apply additional compost or aged manure each fall or early spring.
Sow seeds indoors 12-14 weeks before transplanting out after the danger of frost has passed. Jersey Knight has a germination rate of about 89% so I would sow one seed in a 3 Inch Round Dot Pot at a depth of about 3/4 of an inch. To properly germinate the seeds, keep the heat at about 80 degrees. I like using the round dot pots since I can start my plants, then drop the whole pot into a hole. I do not have to remove the plant and disturb the root system when transplanting. It is also fast and convenient.
Fertilize growing asparagus seedlings only moderately when needed using an organic fertilizer like SeaCom-PGR.
Control aphids and thrips with an organic insecticide like Safer Soap which is safe for humans, animals and bees. I use this on my garden and my lawn. It has a clean saddle soap smell.
After the danger of frost has passed, plant seedlings by digging out a three-inch hole, filling it with SeaCom-PGR and then drop the dot pot into it. Cover the pot with the dirt excavated from digging the hold. Keep in mind, roots do not like a lot of water.
Plant the seedlings fourteen inches apart in rows three feet apart. If a slender asparagus is desired plant them eight inches apart.
The new bed of growing asparagus will be ready for moderate harvest a year after planting, and full harvest every mid-late spring thereafter for many years. Harvest by cutting spears one inch below the soil.
Asparagus can be blanched and frozen, canned or stored for three weeks at a temperature of 32 degrees.
Spend time preparing your asparagus bed. Separate it from your vegetable plot because asparagus foliage will shade adjacent vegetables. Asparagus prefers a sunny, well-drained location and a soil pH of 7.0-8.0.
In early spring, apply compost, aged manure, or complete fertilizer and work well into the soil. Add lime if necessary to raise pH to at least 7.0 asparagus requires a \”sweet\” soil.
Every fall or early spring add more compost or aged manure to your asparagus bed. Again keep well weeded and watered. Avoid damaging any emerging shoots.
Test the pH at least every two years and add lime if needed. During your second season after planting, you can pick a moderate harvest from your asparagus bed in the spring.
During the second season you can harvest Growing Asparagus for four weeks; by the third season you can harvest for six to eight weeks again choosing the finger sized or larger shoots.
Always maintain good growing conditions after harvest, keeping the bed weed- and insect-free. Do not remove any ferns until they die naturally in the fall.
Leave the ferns tall in winter or cut to 12\” in the late fall when they brown. This will catch snow for a natural mulch. With a little care you should enjoy an asparagus bed for many years.

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