How to Grow Asparagus
Asparagus is usually thought of as a luxury vegetable, but really the only thing luxurious about it is the flavour. However, a bed does take up rather a lot of room if it is to give a usable amount at one cutting.
Light soil is preferred but heavy land can be made quite suitable with the addition of plenty of bulky organic matter during the preparations.
The yield of a bed depends very much on its age. A reasonable yield in the early years would be 4-5lb (1.8-2.3kg) per 10ft (3m) of bed.
Time from planting to harvest
If planting one-year-old plants, start cutting in the third or fourth season after planting. Varieties ‘Connover’s Colossal’. New Continental varieties are appearing frequently and are worth trying in milder districts. Sowing Although there’s nothing to stop you raising plants from seed, it’s much more satisfactory to buy plants from a specialist supplier.
Try to buy one-year-old plants and plant them in March or April, preferably April. There are several planting schemes; probably the easiest to follow is to plant in double rows with 18in (45cm) between plants and 18in (45cm) between rows. Plant with the crowns 6in (15cm) below the surface but cover with only 3-4in (7.5-10cm) of soil to leave the plants in a shallow dip. Never allow the roots of newly-arrived plants to dry out. Keep a damp sack etc. over them while planting.
Unless the beds are particularly long, hand weeding is the best system. However;the beds with 3-4in (7.5-10cm) of well rotted compost each early winter will also keep the weeds to a minimum. This should be done soon after the tops have been cut down following yellowing.
Pests and diseases
Asparagus beetle larvae may eat the foliage; treat with bifenthrin. Cutworms and slugs may also be troublesome.
Use a saw-edged bread knife or asparagus knife to cut the shoots to about 2in (5cm) below the surface when the shoots reach about 6in (15cm) tall above the surface. Carry on cutting for 6-8 weeks depending on the age and strength of the bed; end of June at the latest. Asparagus freezes well.