Asparagus 2 by Byron Chitwood, Master Gardener.
If you would like to plan an Asparagus bed, now is the time to get started. This article will discuss a limited size bed which should eventually produce enough for a family of four by the third year after planting. The site for this new bed should have full sunshine or as much during the day as possible. It should be in a well drained area and have access to a water supply. Wild creatures such as rabbits and squirrels don’t seem to bother asparagus even though a squirrel will occasionally want to sample the tip of a spear.
The size of the completed bed that will be discussed will be 4X4 feet of tillable area. Dig out an area that is about 5X5 feet placing the soil aside for use back within the proposed area. Line the outer perimeter with ½ thickness concrete blocks with about 2 inches of the blocks above the surrounding area. Grass and weeds just love asparagus beds so the concrete blocks will minimize the encroachment of them into the asparagus bed. Till the bottom of the bed real well and add peat moss to that soil that has been tilled. Your favorite nursery will have asparagus crowns for sale about this time of the year. If they don’t have them, they can be purchased through a seed catalogue. When purchasing asparagus crowns, be sure and get the male or hybrid varieties. They will produce the larger, more desirable spears. Purchase enough packages of crowns for sixteen plants.
Rake the above mentioned sub surface until it is smooth and lay out the 16 crowns on one foot centers beginning six inches away from the interior surface of the concrete blocks. Lay the crowns with the bud side up. Cover the asparagus crowns with the soil that was removed when digging the bed. First, be sure and shake all the grass and other plant roots free of the soil and throw them in your compost pile. Mix the soil liberally with peat moss and composted leaves and layer it onto the crowns. When all the soil is back in place, water the bed until the soil is moist.
Do not harvest any of the asparagus spears the first year and only a very few the second growing season. Asparagus is the first thing up in the spring. During the third year, harvest the plants for about 4-8 weeks and then let the rest grow until the first killing frost. The frost will kill the top growth which can be shredded and put back on top of the bed to compost.
A well maintained asparagus bed will last for 20 to 25 years and furnish many a good meal for you and your friends.