Brian Jervis Ask the Master Gardener
Asparagus is a wonderful plant that you can grow in your garden. Not only is it fairly easy to grow, it is a perennial, which means that once established, you will be eating asparagus for years because established plants can produce for up to 15 years.
Growing asparagus from seed is a bit difficult, which is why most of us grow what is known as an asparagus crown. The crowns are the root part of the plant and are in a dormant state when you purchase them. Asparagus can be planted in late fall, winter or early spring, so this is a good time to start.
When selecting varieties to plant, Ohio State University suggests Jersey Knight, Mary Washington and UC 157 are varieties that should do well in our area.
When deciding where to plant, keep in mind that asparagus does not transplant well. Once established, it is difficult to drill without dismantling the crown.
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This process continues during the first few years. One thing that’s difficult for gardeners is that you shouldn’t plan to harvest any asparagus during the first year. This is a growth year, and you want your plant to focus its energy on settling into its new surroundings rather than producing stems for you to eat.
One thing people who are new to growing asparagus will learn is that the stems that we don’t eat grow to produce what are called ferns, and these ferns will grow to about 3 to 4 feet tall within the first year. Healthy ferns are a sign of a good crop the following year.
In the second year after planting, you can harvest asparagus spears for about two to three weeks. You can plan to harvest for about four to six weeks during the third year, and then you can harvest spears for about eight to 12 weeks. When this period of time passes, stop harvesting and let the fern grow so it can store energy for next year’s crop.
When harvesting asparagus, store it in the refrigerator. If you leave harvested asparagus at room temperature, it may become tough and lose nutrients.
If you’ve never grown asparagus before, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it grows; 2 inches per day in some cases. It’s as if you can watch them grow. good luck!
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You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Helpline at 918-746-3701, or visiting our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th St. Or email us at email@example.com.