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Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, which means that a well-established bed can produce fresh spears for twenty years or more. Usually considered an early season crop, asparagus isn't just for spring anymore. By following a few simple planting and growing tricks, you can harvest asparagus all summer long.
When establishing a new bed, the fastest way to raise asparagus is to buy and plant roots (crowns) that are one or two years old. Start by digging 3 trenches that are each about 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep. The length is up to you. Asparagus don't like to be waterlogged, so make sure to amend the soil so you have proper drainage. At the bottom of each trench, create small mounds from soil mixed with compost. These mounds should be spaced about 12 inches apart along the trench. The asparagus roots will be draped over the tops of these mounds.
Make the mounds in the first trench tall enough so that when the roots are draped over the top, the crowns (tops of the roots) will be within 6 to 7 inches of the surface when covered with soil. Make the mounds in the second trench tall enough so that crowns are within 4 to 5 inches of the surface and mounds in the third trench tall enough so the crowns are within 2 to 3 inches from the surface.
In the spring, the plants closest to the top will send up shoots first, while those planted deeper will come up later. In the first year, harvest only for 2 weeks. Gradually extend the harvest each year until you are harvesting for about 8 weeks (longer in warmer zones).
Once a bed is in full swing, asparagus should be harvested every three days (more often in hot weather). Expect to see your bed's production gradually taper off toward the end of the season. If you live in a zone with harsh winters, protect your crops into winter with tarps or floating row covers.
I'm making a mixed bed this year with flowers and vegetables. Just trying it out! I love asparagus, does anyone know if it could be grown this way? Maybe I should just give it a shot? When is it ready to harvest in Indiana?
JoAnn in Elkhart