of Rhode Island GreenShare Factsheets
which is high in vitamins A, B, and C and is well suited for freezing,
is also easy to grow in the home garden, and a planting lasts
10 to 15 years.
The ideal soil for
growing asparagus is a deep, sandy loam. Soils which are too
sandy do not have
the capacity to hold enough water and plant nutrients, requiring
the addition of manure or compost. Heavy clays are also not suitable
for asparagus growth, as they have the tendency to become compacted,
and they stay cold and wet later in the spring.
Because an asparagus planting will remain in the same location
for 10 to 15 years, it is important to verify the fertility of
before the crowns are set. During the late summer of the year before
the crowns are to be set, make a heavy application of manure,
available, and 5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 square
feet. Spade or plow the manure and fertilizer into the soil to
depth of 10 inches. The
soil should be tested for lime requirements the year before the
crowns are set. Asparagus prefers a pH of about 6.5.
is best to obtain strong, well grown, one-year-old plants. The roots
of the two-year-old plants are often seriously mutilated when dug.
Plant in early to mid-spring when plants are still dormant. To set
the plants, open a furrow 8 inches deep and 10 inches wide. If the
layer of fertile soil is not 8 inches deep, then a more shallow
trench must be dug. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the trench
and leave it a little higher in the center. Place the crowns in
the trench about 12-18 inches apart, taking care to spread roots
uniformly. If more than one row is planted, have rows 4-6 feet apart.
Cover the crowns with 1 or 2 inches of soil and firm well around
the roots. When growth begins, fill soil gradually around the shoots
and by mid-summer the trench will be completely filled.
After the asparagus has been set, keep the area free of weeds. Let
the stalks grow and stand over winter, as they will provide a mulch.
During the first part of March, old dead stalks should be cut down.
Apply a good coat of well-rotted manure or compost as well as a
10-10-10 fertilizer (3 pounds for each 100 square feet of area)
over and between the rows. The manure and fertilizer should be worked
into the soil to a depth of 3 inches. Apply 2 pounds of nitrogen
fertilizer for each 100 square feet of row at the end of June. Keep
the planting free of weeds. Do not harvest any asparagus the second
Care as in second season. Increase the nitrogen application to 3
pounds per 100 feet of row. Harvest the asparagus spears when they
reach 8 inches in length. Growth will soon become extremely rapid
and harvesting will need to be done each day. Cut all spears for
a period of about 4 weeks, then allow the spears to grow. If the
soil is compacted at the end of the harvest period, rework as in
Continue as in the third season. The harvest season can be lengthened
to 6-7 weeks.
a sharp knife and cut about 1 inch below the surface of the soil.
Be careful to avoid knife injury to emerging stalks. Do not walk
or step on the row during the harvesting process.
The most important pests on asparagus plants are the common asparagus
beetle and the spotted asparagus beetle. See GreenShare
Factsheet on asparagus beetles for identification and control
from the West Virginia University Extension, 2000
are poisonous! Read and follow all safety precautions on labels.
Handle carefully and store in original containers out of reach
of children, pets or livestock. Dispose of empty containers
immediately, in a safe manner and place. Pesticides should never
be stored with foods or in areas where people eat.
When trade names are used for identification, no product endorsement
is implied, nor is discrimination intended against similar materials.
Be sure that the pesticide you intend to use is registered for
the state of use.
The user of this information assumes all risk for personal injury
or property damage.
information, call the URI CE Gardening and Food Safety Hotline
at 1-800-448-1011 or (401)874-2929 from outside Rhode Island;
Monday-Thursday between 9 am and 2 pm.
of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension provides equal program