Asparagus makes the perfect summer side dish. Add a little olive oil and bake and in no time you have a healthy and tasty side dish that everyone is sure to love. Buying asparagus can be pricey, which is why growing your own is a more budget friendly option. And since asparagus is a perennial, once you get it established you can enjoy it year after year! Take a look below at some helpful tips on how to grow asparagus in your garden and yield a crop that you are sure to enjoy.
How to plant asparagus bulbs:
Asparagus starts are purchased as bulbs or “crowns” as opposed to seeds. Be very patient when planting your asparagus bulbs since they may take several years to get established.
When you are ready to get planting, you want to make sure you a sunny spot (full to part sun) and have well prepared soil. You want it to be nutrient rich with excellent drainage. Asparagus does best when planted in amended soil. Work in some compost or manure into the soil before planting as well. Make sure there is no sign of weeds.
To begin planting, create a trench in the soil that is about 6 inches wide and 6-8 inches deep. You can then form mounds in the trench and plant the bulbs or crowns 16-18 inches apart. You then want to cover the bulbs or crowns with soil (about 2 inches) and then give them a generous watering. When you are done, be sure about 4 inches of the stem is still exposed.
How to care for asparagus crowns:
Once your crowns are established, you want to be sure you work hard at maintaining the bed. Keep your eyes peeled for weeds, make sure the crowns get an ample supply of water (2 inches per week), and keep pests at bay. Cutworms and slugs can both be a problem, so a food safe pest repellant may be ideal. You can also set out slug traps (shallow dishes with beer in them) to help attract and catch slugs before they have the chance to settle in on your plants.
How to enjoy a strong asparagus crop:
Your biggest chance at success will come if you practice patience and make sure you are using the best soil possible. As mentioned, asparagus can take several years to really get growing, and using an amendment in your soil such as compost or manure will really make it nutrient rich.
How to harvest your asparagus:
Your asparagus will start to produce shoots which are slightly smaller than the size/width of a pencil. Cutting shoots that are about 6 inches in length is ideal. These can be cut at the base of the plant at an angle and then removed. The harvesting season for asparagus typically lasts 2 weeks before dying down.
After you have harvested, ‘ferns” will grow from the plant and should be left alone. This will help the plant mature further and produce an even stronger crop next year.
Once harvested, you can enjoy your asparagus grilled, chilled, even canned and pickled. There are so many ways to enjoy this healthy food, you will never run out of options for serving it! Give these tips a try and see how easy it can be to grow asparagus of your own.
(Source: Katie Femia)