Master Gardener: Asparagus is easy to grow if planted correctly
BY BRIAN JERVIS Ask a Master Gardener
Saturday, November 17, 2012
11/17/12 at 5:08 AM
Q: Should asparagus be planted in the fall or the spring? How should it be planted? J.G., Tulsa
A: Asparagus is a valuable vegetable for your garden; it is tasty, healthy and easy to grow. It may be planted in late fall, winter or in the spring when crowns (asparagus roots) are available.
This plant has a few growth requirements that should be heeded. It needs full sun and needs its own space where it may produce spears for 15 years. The plant must have well-drained soil; it will fail in overly moist areas. This plant, like most others, appreciates generous amounts of composted organic material tilled into its bed.
Unlike many vegetables that prefer slightly acidic soils, asparagus prefers a neutral pH of about 7. A soil test will give you information for pH (level of acidity) and other nutrients needed.
Asparagus crowns from 1-year-old plants are usually planted in a furrow about 5-6 inches deep. Add a couple of inches of soil initially and then add more soil to fill in the furrow as the plant grows.
The key to good production of asparagus is to develop large, healthy root systems. This is done by not harvesting at all the first growing season, harvest for two to three weeks the second year, four to six weeks the third and eight to 12 weeks thereafter. Stop harvesting each year when the new spears are small, three-eighths inch in diameter or so.
Leave the ferns up until they turn brown, or they may be left until the following spring as protection against the elements. The ferns are feeding next year's crop as long as they are green.
For more information, obtain a copy of OSU's fact sheet "Asparagus Culture in the Home Garden" at tulsaworld.com/gardenasparagus or at the OSU Extension Office.
Q: Is it useful to add fireplace ashes to my vegetable garden? Martha, Tulsa.
A: Many people wish to recycle ashes. They may be used, but there are some negatives. If you do use them in your garden, you should perform a soil test first.
Ashes have no plant nutrients other than potassium. They do have a lot of undesirable salt and are very alkaline. Their use will reduce soil acidity and add salt to the soil. Too much can ruin your soil.
If you do use them, OSU recommends applying 10-20 gallons per 1,000 square feet no more often than once every 10 years.
Get OSU's fact sheet "Fireplace Ashes for Garden Use" at tulsaworld.com/gardenashes or from the Master Gardeners.
If you have a garden-related question for the Master Gardeners to answer in a column, call 918-746-3701.
Original Print Headline: Asparagus is easy to grow if planted correctly
- Apply dormant oil (sold as a spray at home-improvement retailers) for scale-infested trees and shrubs while temperatures are above 40 degrees. Follow label directions.
- Leave foliage on asparagus, mums and other perennials to help insulate crowns from harsh winter conditions.
- Delay pruning fruit trees until next February or March before bud break.
- Harvest pecans and walnuts immediately to eliminate deterioration of the kernel.
Asparagus may be planted in late fall or winter, but it needs full sun and well-drained soil. BILL SEVIER/Courtesy