In Southern Ontario, local Asparagus is a treat in May and early June. Asparagus is a perennial plant that you can enjoy year after year once established in your garden. Similar to trees the best time to plant asparagus was 20 years ago. Growing asparagus is a great addition to the home garden.
When growing asparagus you have two options for establishing your patch, the first being from seeds and the second from crowns. A crown is the root system of an asparagus plant that is at least two years old. Starting from a crown has the benefit of allowing you to harvest sooner. You can begin to harvest from a plant started from a crown in the third season after planting. For starting from seeds it’s recommended to wait until the fourth season. By waiting this time, you are allowing the plant’s root system to be well established and healthy for years to come.
To plant the crowns you want to dig a hole approximately 8 to 12 inches deep and spread out the roots in a circular pattern. Make sure to amend with lots of compost. I have spaced my asparagus crowns about one foot apart down the center of my raised bed to allow for them to grow and spread over time. A common companion plant for asparagus is strawberries, which you can see planted down the sides of my raised bed.
In the spring cut or snap the asparagus spears at soil height when they are 6 to 8 inches in height but before the heads begin to separate. It’s important to check frequently, even daily, as they can grow very quickly as the temperatures begin to warm.
You will know it’s time to stop harvesting when the diameter of the asparagus decreases to about pencil size. This is when you will allow the remaining spears will grow, reaching 4 to 5 feet tall and spreading out their fronds. This growth helps to replenish the plant for the next season.
In general, asparagus is very low maintenance. At the end of the gardening season, once the fronds have died back from frost, they can be cut down to soil level. At this point, I like to add compost to the bed and then mulch with leaves. This sets up for success the next spring.
I highly recommend adding asparagus to your garden as a low-maintenance way to add more variety to the food your garden produces. Keep in mind it takes three to four years to become established so the sooner the better.
Nice! i wish i had a garden that could accommodate it.