Asparagus is a delicious vegetable, but can be expensive to purchase. An asparagus bed in your kitchen garden can provide you and your family with delicious asparagus for years to come. Unlike many of the annual vegetables that we are familiar with, Asparagus is a perennial vegetable. Annual vegetables complete their lifespan in one year and will produce their fruit during that one year lifespan. Perennial vegetables live for years, and produce their crop at the same time each year.
Asparagus plants are available from different sources and can be bought as seeds or plants. Seeds can be started at a lower price, but will take several years to grow. Because asparagus plants grow slowly, it is often more rewarding to purchase the plants and transplant them into your garden.
- Many nurseries that sell food plants also offer asparagus plants that are a year or two old. They will start producing food in two years, and will produce a heavy crop in three to four years. Many of these nurseries offer all male varieties, such as Jersey Knight, which will focus on producing spears, not seeds.
- Bonnie Plants has started offering 1 year old asparagus plants in six packs for about $4 at Home Depot in the early spring. I purchased a six pack of these plants last year. While not all of the plants made it through the harsh winter, the ones that grew produces some lovely stalks. If you have the patience to wait while the plants grow, this is a cost effective alternative to some of the more expensive asparagus options.
- If you want to grow an heirloom variety, you may be able to find a wider variety by starting seed. Several seed companies carry heirloom varieties of asparagus such as Martha Washington.
Asparagus plants are planted in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. However, it will still be cold and may be wet, so preparing your asparagus bed this fall will make it quicker and easier to plant your asparagus in the spring.
- Choose a site that gets plenty of afternoon sun and has good drainage. Asparagus do not grow as well in the shade.
- After removing weeds, work several inches of compost into the soil. If you are working with established roots, you will probably be instructed to plant the roots six inches deep, so loosen the soil down to six inches or more.
- Cover the prepared bed with two or three inches of mulch to protect the bed from weeds and keep the soil soft and easy to dig up.
Another alternative is to grow the asparagus in raised beds. Build your raised beds this fall, fill with a soft mix of compost and garden soil, and cover with a layer of mulch. When the asparagus plants are available in the Spring, it will be quick and easy to transplant the asparagus into the prepared raised beds.
In the attached video, Dave Epstein provides some great tips for preparing your asparagus bed for fall. Please enjoy this video. For more information about how to grow asparagus, see Growing Asparagus.
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