Asparagus is not only delicious but surprisingly easy to grow. Growing asparagus from store-bought spears is an ideal way for beginners to get started in their gardening journey.
It’s a rewarding vegetable that offers plenty of nutritional benefits. Here are some simple steps on how to grow asparagus from store-bought spears.
Choose small, firm and fresh-looking spears with tight tips. If the tips are dried out, then the spears are likely too old and best to be avoided.
Avoid asparagus spears with soft or damaged tips and discolored stalks. Look for the spears with purplish-green heads and shiny tips instead.
Before planting, soak the spears for a minimum of one hour in a bucket of lukewarm water.
This helps to get rid of any dirt, herbicides or other debris that could have been attached to the asparagus spears.
The asparagus needs to be planted in fertile, well-draining soil. Make sure the area you select is not in direct sunlight or exposed to the scorching heat. Add organic matter such as compost or aged manure to the soil to increase its fertility.
It’s important to make sure the soil is rich and fertile because asparagus takes three years to really start producing.
Dig 2-3-inch deep trenches and spread the spears for planting. Be careful not to break the spears when placing them inside the trenches.
Plant the spears 8 to 12 inches apart, spacing them evenly and water the soil. Cover the trenches with soil and firm up gently.
Provide asparagus plants with 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Fertilize with about 3 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 100 feet of row during the first growing season.
Mulch around the planted asparagus with a few inches of wood chips or grass clippings.
In the first growing season, don’t harvest any spears. Let them grow as far as possible in order for the spears to develop into thick and strong stems.
During the second and third years, you can harvest the younger, thinner spears. Do not harvest spears that are bigger and older than 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness.
Germinating Asparagus From Seeds
If store-bought spears are not available, it is possible to grow asparagus from seeds as well.
Fill trays or pots with fast-draining seeding soil mix and sprinkle some asparagus seeds on top. Gently press down the seeds into the soil and use a spray bottle to moisten the soil lightly.
Place the trays in a warm and sunny area, covering them with plastic wrap to preserve the moisture.
Keep a check on the soil’s water content and don’t let it dry out too much. The seeds need moisture to germinate and should sprout in four to seven days.
Once the plants have grown a few inches in height, they can be transplanted into the garden beds. Make sure to leave adequate spacing between each plant for maximum growth.
By following the same instructions as you would for planting spears, you can grow asparagus from seed as well.
However, it may take an extra season or two for the spears to fully mature and become harvest-ready.
Growing Asparagus in Containers
Growing asparagus in containers is a completely different experience. Since soil conditions and pH levels can differ from place to place, it’s important to use a potting soil mix that will provide the required nutrients for the plants. It’s also essential to have a well-draining soil mix.
Select a deep, wide container that is large enough to accommodate full-grown asparagus plants. You will need at least a two-gallon pot size or a three-gallon pot for each asparagus plant.
Place the pot in a sunny location, such as a patio, deck or balcony. Water the asparagus frequently but do not overwater. Make sure to fertilize the asparagus plants occasionally to prevent nutrient deficiency.
Growing asparagus in containers requires you to harvest only the youngest and thinnest spears. Once the spears start to become bigger than one inch, it is best to avoid harvesting them. This will allow the spears to mature into robust and full-grown asparagus plants.
Cut the harvestable spears at the base, and the remaining spears will branch out, giving it the shape of a fern.
You don’t need to harvest every spear to encourage new growth. Leave some older spears to create a proper environment for the plant’s development.
Pruning and Harvesting Asparagus
Pruning asparagus is essential in order to let them flourish with plenty of high-quality stalks. During the first growing season, wait until springtime to prune the plants. Cut the yellowed and yellow-tipped spears right at the soil level.
It’s important not to prune until the new spears are 2-3 inches tall. Cutting the spears too quickly will force the plant to put more energy into regeneration.
Once the harvesting period begins in the second year, you can use the same trick to prune asparagus. Harvesting gives the asparagus plant an even better chance to fully develop and produce higher-quality spears.
Brush off any loose dirt or debris around the stalks during harvesting. Cut the thicker spears at the base with a pair of scissors.
Proper harvesting can help the asparagus plants to continue producing healthy spears year after year. Keep an eye out for signs of diseases and inspect the spears for any rotting or wilting.
Regularly prune your asparagus beds and you will see that the plants will stay healthy and productive for several years.
Storing Asparagus Properly
If you didn’t eat all the stored asparagus after harvesting, don’t worry. Fresh asparagus that is cut and cooked properly can last for up to three days in the refrigerator.
To keep them fresh for a longer time, submerge the stemmed asparagus in an ice-cold container filled with water. This will help release their flavor and texture.
It is also possible to freeze asparagus. Blanch them in boiling water for one to three minutes and cool them quickly in an ice bath.
Once their temperature has dropped, put them in a re-sealable freezer bag and push out the extra air. This will help keep them fresh for up to six months.
Leftover asparagus can also be steamed with butter and spices as an addition to rice and potatoes. To get the most out of asparagus, keep them fresh and store properly.
Use creative methods that will help make asparagus last longer and preserve their flavor.
Preventing Asparagus Rust
Rust is one of the most common issues gardeners face when growing asparagus. The yellow, orange or blackish-brown splotches on the spears indicate the presence of rust.
It is important to take preventive measures and keep a check on the leaves and stems of the asparagus.
Pay attention to the details in the garden and remove dead and diseased plants immediately. It’s important to have a healthy air circulation inside the asparagus patch.
Provide sufficient space in between the plants for the air to pass through and keep the soil well drained.
Rust defenders are a great way to protect the asparagus from disease. They help provide an extra layer of protection against rust and other fungal and bacterial diseases.
Rust defenders are made up of combinations of sulfur, sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate and other ingredients that are known to protect plants from diseases.
Regularly apply rust defenders in your asparagus patch and keep a check on the plants’ health. Don’t forget to clean and disinfect the containers and tools each season to prevent the spread of rust.
Taking preventive measures and extra care is the key to making sure your asparagus patch remains healthy and productive.