Sweet Purple Asparagus emerges in spring!
How to plant up those lovely roots that you purchased in a mesh bag at the nursery this spring....
Asparagus roots can be planted up 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost, which means anytime after mid-March in our area.
1. Soak the roots for 2 to 3 hours in warm water. If you have any at home, add a few capfuls of liquid seaweed to the water bath.
This step is really important if those roots look very dry, as if you do not re-hydrate them they will die in the ground. Many greenhouses store the mesh bags of roots indoors in heated spaces for several months. The roots then dry out severely and may even die before you buy them and get them home.
* If you are unable to plant them in your bed yet .... perhaps it is too wet, covered in snow, or maybe not yet built .... pop them into a large pot or planter after you have re-hydrated them. Use a regular potting mix, water as you would any other planter when it goes dry, and keep in an area that is bright, cool, yet does not freeze.
2. Dig up a bed to dedicate to the asparagus, remember that it is perennial, so it will be there for 20 years or more.
3. Loosen the soil and remove and weeds from the bed as asparagus does not compete well for water and nutrients.
4. Asparagus is a heavy feeder and most especially requires lots of nitrogen and potassium. Add organic matter such as compost, chicken manure, banana peels .... you can also add bone meal and blood meal, if you use them. Top dress the bed annually with good organic matter and soil conditioners.
5. Dig a trench that is about 6 to 8 inches deep and wide...
6. Create a mound down the centre of your trench.
7. Place the asparagus in the trench, about 15 inches apart. Put the top, or crown, on top of that mound in the centre, spread out the roots all around the sides of the mounded trench, like the dangling legs of an octopus.
|Picture of how to place your crowns ... from guardian.co.uk|
8. Cover till the tops are under 2 inches of soil....
9. As the shoots emerge, keep adding soil, leaving about 3" of the shoot tops exposed to the light. Keep covering as it grows throughout the summer, until there is no longer a trench and the bed is level.
10. Water weekly.
Things to note....
You will not be harvesting any asparagus the first year, and just a bit the second year, but should have a decent crop in the third year.
Each year you will get more and more asparagus. Remember that it will be there for 20 years and will fill that entire bed.
In fall, your ferny asparagus tops will begin to yellow, then brown off. You can now cut them down.
This ferny stuff is asparagus in early summer time.
These ferns will go brown and dry in fall,
and are then ready to be cut down.