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asparagus870mpAsparagus

Asparagus beds are long term investments and if implemented correctly will give you a return on that investment for over 20 years, each spring providing you with delicious, edible spears.

Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the most sought-after vegetables. Its subtle flavour offers a real treat during the short time it is in season and yet it is surprisingly easy to grow. It thrives on well-drained soil or in raised beds, as long as it is kept well fed and weed-free.

Benefits of the Spaghetti Squash

  • Rich source of folates
  • Useful source of beta carotene, vitamin C and E
  • Diuretic and mild laxative

Drawback

  • Can make urine smell.

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  Planting
  Growing
  Harvesting
  Varieties
  Problems
  Video
How to Plant Asparagus Crowns

Planting Asparagus CrownsPlanting Asparagus Crowns

When to Plant Asparagus

  • Plant crowns in March & April

How to Plant Asparagus Crowns

  • Asparagus likes a site that is light and well drained with a pH level of 6.5-7.5.
  • Sandy soil is ideal, on heavy or clay soils grow asparagus in ridges or raised beds.
  • Dig a tranch 20cm (8in) deep, and wide enough to allow the crown roots to be spread out without folding the roots.
  • Make a ridge in the middle of the trench to support the crown 10cm (4in) below the top od the trench.
  • Place the crown on the top of the ridge and spread the roots evenly over the ridge.
  • Space the crowns 30-40cm (12-18in) apart a long the ridge.
  • Row spacings should be 45cm (18in) apart.

 

Growing Asparagus

Growing AsparagusGrowing Asparagus

Growing Asparagus

As said before asparagus really hates boggy heavy and clay soils so the key to growing the perennial vegetable is making sure its growing site is well suited to its needs.

Now if you have the wrong type of soil don't despair, build a good raised bed and fill it with a mix of sand, small gravel, light top soil and well-rotted manure or compost to the result is light and fertile with a pH of 6.5-7.5 ideally.

Feed the bed twice a year, once in March and then again after the cropping season has ended to build up a strong crown.  At the end of the growing season the foliage will start to turn yellow, when this happens it is time to cut the tops down to around 2-3in above the soil, and then mulch the bed with well-rotted manure or compost.

 

Harvesting Asparagus

Harvesting AsparagusHarvesting Asparagus

Harvesting Asparagus

Don't harvest newly planted crowns in its first year, and only very lightly the following year so the crowns can get well established and strong.

In the following years when the spears are about 13-18cm (5-7in), cut the spears just below ground level.

Harvesting can be done for about 8 weeks from around mid-April onwards depending on the variety.

It is important to not over harvest the spears but to allow them to fully develop into their mature plants to strengthen their crowns.

Asparagus Varieties

 

Asparagus Varieties to try

  • Connovers Colossal Asparagus
    • A variety that has stood the test of time, thick stalks of mid-green with a superb flavour. Beds will produce good crops for 15-20 years once established.
  • Gijnlim Asparagus
    • These one year old plants are quick to establish. Beds should be prepared well in advance so the roots can be planted as soon as possible after receipt. Your first crop should be the following season.
  • Jacmar Purple Asparagus
    • Second to none for sweetness and tenderness. Try it cold in a healthy salad. It has a very low fibre content which means that almost the entire spear is free of the tough fibre normally found on the bottom of the green varieties.
  • Jersey Knight F1 Asparagus
    • All male hybrid giving improved production of spears up to 2cm (1") thick.
Problems Growing Asparagus

Asparagus BeetleAsparagus Beetle

Asparagus Beetle:

Adult beetles and their larvae strip the outer bark and leaves from the stem. Damaged areas become yellow-brown and desiccated. The black beetles are 6-8mm long with a red thorax and six yellow blotches on the wing cases. Larvae are grey-black in colour, 1cm (½in) long, with three pairs of legs.

Remedy:

Destroy overwintering beetles by burning old stems at the end of the season. From late spring, search and destroy the pests by hand. On larger plots, use sprays containing pyrethrum.

Slugs and snails:

These feed on the young seedlings and you'll see the tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop, as well as on the leaves.

Remedy:

There are many ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers and copper tape.

Aphids:

Look for colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves. They suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds.

Remedy:

Use your finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies, spray with pyrethrum, insecticidal soap, plant or fish oils.

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