When I volunteered at the Garden Show, we handed out pamphlets for Edgar Farms' Asparagus Festival. Many people were surprised and said "Oh, can you grow asparagus here?" Yes, you can! And I ordered some bare roots this winter which just arrived yesterday.
- asparagus is a long-lived perennial, so preparing the soil before planting will be very important for long-term success
- choose a spot with lots of sun, where the sun can warm the soil early in spring (the mini-raised beds shown above in my butterfly potager garden will be the perfect spot!)
- they are deep-rooted plants that prefer deep, rich, well-drained sandy loam so add lots of organic material to clay soil
- cultivate the area to at least 30 cm deep and incorporate generous amounts of manure, compost and peat moss and a high phosphorous fertilizer.
- set the rooted crowns into the trenches about 15 cm below the soil surface and cover with no more than 5 cm of soil initially. tamp down the soil firmly around the roots. as the spears begin to emerge, cover them lightly with soil and repeat until the trench is filled in. do not fertilize. wait.
- in the second year, a few shoots can be harvested, but only for a 2-3 week period. full-scale harvesting should be possible from the third year on.
- spears are ready to harvest when they are about 15-20cm tall, just before the scales on their tips begin to open.
- leave unharvested spears to grow tall and form a fern-like plant that enables the plant to build itself up for the following year's production; give a thorough soaking and add a good feeding of phosphate-rich fertilizer in fall; can be left standing for the winter to catch snow
More information on planting can be found on this post at Vegetable Gardener.com.
Also check out Growing, Cooking and Stashing Asparagus at A Way to Garden.com.