By Ellen Brown
Why does asparagus come up right at first in hard tiny spindles and fern out without making any eatable sprouts? Does it harm the asparagus to cut down the fern at any time, especially the hard stems before mentioned? What is the difference in male and female plants? Why do some say to pull out the female plants? Can asparagus be too thickly planted?
How thickly did you plant it, and how deep? Also, how long ago? Ideally, it should not be harvested for the first 2 years after planting. (Wait until its 3rd growing season.) It should be planted at least a foot deep, deeper if possible. Roots should not be planted any closer together than about a foot. Sometimes you will get plants closer together because the plant has seeded and you get shallow plants among the "good" ones. You can easily pull these, and they will be spindly at first, and easy to spot. A good mulch will help minimize this. You can harvest from mature plants from the time they come up in the spring until about the first day of summer, at least in the NE US. (The take-away here is that it should not be harvested all season--it needs time to feed the roots. Around here, we harvest around 2 months.) At the end of the season, once all the ferny tops have turned brown, you can cut them off at ground level. The reason some say to remove the female plants (that bear the seeds) is so you don't get self-seeding; but we have never found this to be a problem. When you harvest, cut or break the spears at ground level.
I planted asparagus 3 years ago and it is ready to harvest. My question: do I harvest all the shoots or do I let some of them grow into full sized plants or do I harvest all the shoots for awhile and then let the following shoots grow into plants?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
By Bob from Charlotte, NC