Good news, North Jersey gardeners and other asparagus lovers in hardiness zone six. Now and for the next few weeks is the ideal time to add this popular, tasty and healthful vegetable to your garden’s roster. Add “expensive in supermarkets” to the description and you have one more excellent reason to plant asparagus, or asparagus officinalis as botanists like to call it.
Asparagus may be started from seed but in general starting the plants out from root complexes called “crowns” is the preferred technique. Crowns are generally purchased on line or via mail order; few garden supply stores stock them. Jersey Knight, Purple Passion, Jersey Giant and Martha Washington are popular varieties.
Asparagus will come up year after year so be certain that wherever you establish the asparagus patch, the shoots will be welcome there for a long time.
Dig a trench for each row of asparagus and then build a mound or ridge down the center of the trench. This mound should crest about 5” – 6” below ground level. The trench should be W shaped in cross section.
Place each crown on top of the ridge and drape the roots down the sides. Keep the crowns about one foot apart. Construct the trenches so that the rows will be about 18” from one another.
Fill in the trenches to ground level, and just give the plants some time.
Do not harvest any first year spears. In the second year make only one or two light cuttings, more to stimulate plant growth than anything else. From the third year on, enjoy all the fresh asparagus you can handle!
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