Planting asparagus is labor intensive. Or at least it is in my garden beds built on half-century old rocky fill dirt. Additionally, since the holes cannot be refilled for a few weeks, the excess dirt also needs to be stored somewhere. When siting your garden bed, remember that asparagus have a life spanning decades.
I don’t know if I really need this disclaimer, but my farm will not be seeking organic certification due to the immense financial burden that doing so has become. There are also some philosophical reasons from which you will be spared…for now at least. But I hope you agree that my methods fit the bill!
Asparagus needs to be buried deep. Eight inches to be exact but in my case, I dug deeper to remove and rocks that might inhibit root growth. They also need a wide hole in which the crowns can be adequately spread. 12 inches to be exact.
So the procedure is as follows.
- also a digging iron in my case. Blasted rocks!
- Asparagus Crowns
- Nourse farms has by far the highest quality nursery stock that I have come across. However they sell them in 25 crown increments
- Organic soil amendments
- I minimize these typically. As the depth required at planting took these plants in to the heavy structured subsoil, I did use a handful of organic manure and humus (NPK- .5:.5:.5) per plant. It was $1.79 per 40 pound bag at walmart. 1 bag was enough for 25 plants.
- Eliminate existing weeds or turf to limit competition for nutrients.
- Dig the planting holes
- 8 inches deep, 12 inches in diameter, 12-18 inches apart. I efficiently used geometry (well, trigonometry) to my advantage!
- Amend the soil as needed
- I put half of a handful of organic manure and humus into the bottom of the hole in a cone shape to better accommodate the form of the crowns.
- Place the crown flat in the hole. Roots down, the crown where the roots come together and where the sprouts will originate up. The roots need to be spread out evenly covering the diameter of the hole
- Refill the hole ONLY until the crown is buried
- One half handful of the organic manure and hummus was placed on top of the crowns, then normal garden soil to finish burying the crown.
- Irrigate if needed
- When the sprouts are a few feet tall and have become ferns, refill half of the remaining hole.
- 100% of my plants had germinated within 10 days
- Refilling the hole will generally be 2 or 3 weeks after planting
- After another two weeks have passed, refill the holes completely
Here are some pictures of the process:
1. Building the garden bed in a manner that eliminates the turf. Done in the November before the spring planting season:
2 and 3. Planting holes dug. Note my soil amendment bag to the left of the frame, bundle of crowns up top.
4. Plant the crowns. I am so sorry and I realize this may be the step with the greatest potential for confusion. I failed to photograph it as it absolutely covered my hands in muck. So I am borrowing this image from this planting guide published by the University of Minnesota Extension. Place the crown into the hole so it is in this exact shape:
5. Bury the crown. This image shows the newly germinated shoots so it was taken 6 days after planting. However the depth to bury the crown is accurately depicted:
6. Water the plants, no image needed.
7. Refill the hole when the plant has achieved a few feet in height.
8. Have not completed this step yet, will update with a picture when I have!
Thats it! After two seasons of unharvested sprouts, you will enjoy 20-50 years of early spring, fresh, nutritious greens harvested before most other plants have come out of winter dormancy!