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Should Asparagus be grown on Raised Beds?

The main reason for growing Asparagus on raised beds is one of good drainage. Asparagus is not too particular as to soil type - light or heavy - but it should always have good drainage. Commercially, Asparagus is normally grown in light or silt soils that have drainage trenches around the production fields.

There is no problem in growing asparagus on the flat bed - as long as it is well-drained and does not at any time become waterlogged - summer or winter.

There is so much mystique surrounding the growing of asparagus that many gardeners are put off growing this valuable vegetable crop. Its main requirement is 'time'. Patience also helps for it takes about three years of growing to get useful crops. Unlike most other vegetables, asparagus is a perennial and not simply dug up each year and then sown again the following year.

The fact that it is perennial and has attractive foliage means that it can be used as a dual purpose plant if required. There is nothing to stop it being planted in perennial or shrub bed for added interest. However, as it is happiest in full sun, then a special bed is where it will be more productive.

A nice crop of tender asparagus

Asparagus spears - perfectly grownWhere to grow Asparagus

Asparagus prefers a light well drained soil, though most garden soils can be adapted. In heavy damp soils it is best to plant them on slightly raised beds or mounds. As it is a long term crop, best to well-prepare the soil with added compost before planting.

Sowing and Planting.

Asparagus can be grown easily from seed, or for quicker maturity and production, you can buy asparagus crowns. These are simply one year old fleshy root bundles.

The crowns can be planted in spring at a distance of about 30-35cm apart and at a depth of not more than 5cms. A slightly mounded ridge is ideal.

Sowing to Cropping of Asparagus

  • Sow seed - February through until April under cover, or plant young crowns March through April.
    Harvest in April or June.
    Sowing to Cropping time - 3 years: planting crowns to harvest 1 - 2 years.
    Seeds can be sown individually in peat pots sowing modules in late winter to early spring - under cover and slight heat. Seeds can also be sown direct outdoors, but wait until the frosts have gone. Seedlings should be thinned to about 15cm.

General Care of Asparagus.

  • Asparagus plants are either boys or girls! The female plants bear berries, which can be troublesome if allowed to self seed – unless of course you really want those extra plants!

    It is not the seed bearing quality that is different – the females tend to have plumper spears, and they will live just as long as the male plants if not allowed to seed themselves – otherwise over the years they will become weaker after producing all those seeds.

    Bought-in crowns tend to be all male plants which have been specifically bred for that purpose.

    Keep the beds clear of weeds but not with a hoe! The fleshy roots are easily damaged. Let the foliage die down naturally in the autumn - don't cut before then. However, it is a good idea to support the waving fronds to avoid root rock. Allow plenty of space either side of the bed for the foliage to spread out and take in the sun.

 Harvesting Asparagus..

  • Ideally be patient and do not remove any of the emerging spears for the first three year. Ok, maybe just one or two in year 2 if you must. Before that, allow the spears to develop into the ferny fronds that will be important for the rapid growth and maturity of the plant.

Year 3 onwards, you take all the spears as they emerge. Allow them to grow 15cms then cut them off just below ground level. The harvest period is for the three months April to June. After that, allow the spears to develop into the life supporting foliage fronds.

Problems with Asparagus.

  • Not many things to worry about other than the asparagus beetle. Its larvae eat the foliage and therefore stunt the plant. Just pick them off and dispose, or use a vegetable insecticide.
    Slugs are sometimes a problem. Pellets or other means of control - up to you!

Basil and parsley are good choices to grow with your asparagus. They make good companions, and grow well together. 



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