How to plant asparagus


Planting asparagus. Among the earliest of the spring vegetables; requires rich, crumbly soils, does best in regions having sufficiently cold winters to freeze the ground at least a few inches. The latitude of south central Georgia is about the southern limit for satisfactory culture. Mary Washington is the dominant variety. An asparagus planting, if well cared for, may be an abundant producer for many years; choose a spot for it in which it will create the least interference with other garden work. This crop should be planted in rows 30 inches apart, with 18 inches between the plants in each row. Cover the roots to a depth of 8 inches. Seventy plants will serve 100 feet of row.

Plant only vigorous 1-year-old roots which have not dried out. Asparagus roots burrow deep for their water; give the land a deep spading before planting. It is worth while to spade manure, rotted leaves, peat or leaf mold more than a foot into the subsoil. In setting the plants cover the roots first to a depth of only 4 inches, adding another 4 inches of soil after the tops have grown. Keep the asparagus row or bed free of weeds and grass; they are largely responsible for poor results. Do not harvest asparagus the year it is planted.

The year after setting, the cutting period should be brief, about 2 weeks. The second year the crop may be harvested for 4 weeks, after that for a normal harvest season. Stop cutting about June 30 and let the tops grow. Remove the dead tops after the frost and burn them if they are diseased or insect-ridden. If they are clean let them remain until late winter to cover the soil. Harvest the shoots before the branches toward the tip begin to show. Mulch heavily with well-rotted cow manure and straw in the late winter after the first good freeze. This will increase the size of the asparagus tips and the length as they will have to penetrate the mulch to reach the light.

Cutting is best done with an asparagus knife, which is stuck into the ground next to the tip and then twisted to cut each tip.

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