Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the earliest vegetables harvested in the spring. It’s a hardy perennial that easily survives WI winters and can yield for 20 years or more! Best of all, it requires little maintenance once established. The spears we eat are the young stalks of the plant, which develop into 4-5 ft tall fern-like foliage if not harvested. Plants are either male or female, but male plants are preferred because they produce more spears since they don’t develop fruit.

Light

At least 6 hours of full sun per day.

Planting

Best time to plant is between April 15 and May 15. Plant in an area that will be undisturbed. Remove any weeds present and till the area 10-12 inches deep. Dig a trench about 8-10 inches deep and add a few inches of compost, then a 1 inch layer of soil. Make a small mound of soil down the middle and place crown over the mound making sure to spread out the roots. Crowns should ultimately be about 6 inches deep. Cover with soil.

Soil

Prefers fertile, well drained, light and loose soil. Soil pH should be 6.5-7.5, so it’s recommended to test the soil and amend as needed.

Water

Water well after planting and supplement water as necessary to keep soil moderately moist, but not too wet.

Fertilizer

Just add compost to soil as a top dressing to fertilize, about once every 1-3 years.

Harvesting

Don’t harvest the first year, and only harvest for 2-3 weeks or not at all the second year. The third year, only havest 5-8 weeks and after that, the harvest season will last 8-10 weeks. Harvest spears when they are about 8-10 inches tall, but before the tips begin to open. Stop harvesting when emerging spears are about the diameter of a pencil, so that the plant can take in nutrients and recover before the next year. Harvest by cutting with a knife or snapping off at or just above ground level.

Grooming

Weeding throughout the summer helps increase yields.

Mulch

Apply mulch in late fall, over the winter.

Problems

One of the biggest problems with asparagus is weeds, so it’s important to remove weeds before planting and continuously throughout the growing season. Mulching can help.

Asparagus
at America's Best Flowers
Variety
Characteristics
Male/Female
Jersey KnightProbably the best for the home gardener. Great spear quality and high productivity.Male
Jersey SupremeWell suited to colder climates and will produce spears earlier in the season. High productivity of uniformly-sized spears.Male
Purple PassionSweeter and more tender than green varieties. Spears turn green when cooked.Male and Female