There is nothing like having fresh asparagus from your own garden! Asparagus is just one of those crops that no matter how fresh it may look or feel in the supermarket - the taste of home
grown can't be beat!
Asparagus is different than most of the vegetable crops planted in the garden. Unlike annual varieties such as tomatoes, cucumber and peppers that need planted each year - asparagus is a perennial. Once established, they can provide a good crop for 20 to 25 years for you and your family to enjoy!
They also differ because plants are either male or female. The males are known to have larger and more abundant spear production, while the female varieties tend to be thinner and produce seeds in the fall for reproduction. Most prefer to plant only the male for the added production levels. Popular male varieties such as Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight are great choices for those looking for maximum yields.
Asparagus can be started from seed or from what are called crowns - which are nothing more than the roots of 1 to 2-year-old asparagus plants. Most, (including us) really prefer starting them with the crowns and not from seed. Growing from seed can take up to 2 to 3 years to have edible spears formed - while starting with crowns can give you a few spears to enjoy by the second year. It's also easier to start and maintain the crowns - as their growth is more defined early on, making it easier to keep weeded.
How To Plant :
With the long crop cycle of 20 or more years - it is important to prepare your bed space accordingly. Work in generous amounts of compost to the soil before planting to provide a good starting base for your crop. Asparagus will do best in a nice, sunny location. They can tolerate some partial shade, but grow and thrive much better with full sun.
To plant asparagus, you will want to dig a trench about 6" deep and about 8" wide. We like to space ours about 18" between crowns. Place the crown at the bottom of the trench, and cover with about 2" of topsoil. As the crown begins to grow through the soil, keep adding a few inches of soil until the soil level has filled in the trench over the course of a few weeks. This process allows the asparagus to develop a deep root system to provide for years of crop harvests.
For your first year, allow the plants to grow tall. Resist the temptation to cut a few spears - you want all of the growth to go to the plant and root structure. In the fall after they have died off, you can cut them off about 1" above the soil and place a little straw or compost mulch over them for the winter.
In year two, you will begin to see some small spears shoot through the earth in the spring. You can harvest the first week or two of spears, then allow the plants to once again grow tall and build up strength. The year 2 spears will be smaller, but still very tasty!
Year 3 is where the fun begins! You should be close to full harvest - enjoying fresh spears each and every spring for many years to come. After each spring harvest, let your asparagus grow tall in the beds and repeat the process of cutting back after they have died off in the fall.
Upkeep and Maintenance of Beds:
The biggest key to good productive asparagus is to keep your beds weed free. Weeds and grass compete for valuable nutrients, and a weedy bed will result in smaller, less productive harvests. We use either straw or compost mulch to keep ours weed-free throughout the year. It's also a good idea each fall to put on a two-inch covering of compost on top of your beds to give some added nutrients. Other than that - once established, your asparagus beds will provide you with years of fresh and amazing tasting crops each spring!
Happy Gardening! - Jim and Mary
If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, "like" us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
Last summer I shared pictures of what was to be the medicine cabinet door in my farmhouse bath. Now I'm finally sharing pictures of the completed cabinet. See all of them at http://oldewindmillfarm.blogspot.com/2013/04...
There is no mistaking it - we are in full-blown "pergola building season" at the farm. Ever since building our own and then a few more for friends and family a few years back - our
"hobby" has grown to making quite a few each year ( See : Building Our Farm One Pergola At A Time)
We have been so fortunate to have met a lot of wonderful new people through the process - and, more importantly, it has really helped to build the farm and fund projects like the sensory garden and new chicken coop.
We thought we would share some of the pictures, tips and hints that we have learned when it comes to building a beautiful and durable outdoor garden pergola.
A Strong Base Is The Key To A Strong Pergola:With any outdoor structure, everything starts with the base. To put it simply, don't skimp on your posts.
When working with wood, a 4 x 6" or 6 x 6" post is your best choice for long-term durability. 4 x 4" posts - although much less expensive than the thicker ones, simply won't hold up over time. They will begin to bend and bow - and within a year or two - your structure can start to look more like a curvy art sculpture than an outdoor oasis.
Choosing The Type And Thickness Of Wood:There are a lot of choices when it comes to what species and thickness of wood to use. It really comes down to personal preference. We build all of our beams and top purlin boards from 2" thick lumber. Although there are thinner and less costly options - the 2" thickness gives the piece long-term strength and durability.
Almost all of our pergolas are made from treated lumber. It's a great choice when looking to handle harsh outdoor conditions. It's also very versatile - you can leave it to weather to a natural grey patina - or paint or stain it to match almost any wood species or decor.
Cedar is another viable option, but the cost of cedar is becoming astronomical, and it is very hard to find in 2" thickness. No matter the wood species, thinner boards tend to end up like the thinner posts, bowed and curvy over time.
Securing The Structure:A lot of people ask us if its better to bury the posts, or to mount them on a concrete pad or footer. It really comes down to personal preference, as both work well.If you have an existing concrete patio - then by all means securing your posts with a bracket is the way to go. You can find simple plate anchors (Simpson ties, etc.) at most home improvement and hardware stores that do an excellent job of securing posts to concrete.
If you choose to bury your posts - make sure to dig down deep enough to get below the frost line and prevent it from heaving out of the soil. For ours on the farm we buried our posts 24" and then back-filled with packing limestone gravel and dirt.
Quite simply, the important thing is to definitely secure it! If it's not secured, all it can take is one little serious windstorm to turn your beautiful little paradise into a pile of toothpicks.
Jim and MaryIf you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, "like" us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter
Commented on Apr 20, 2013
Very timely post since my husband is currently seriously considering building one for our
patio. I will pass these tips on to him. Thank you!