by Lee Wyatt
(last updated January 14, 2011)
Asparagus is an interesting type of vegetable that can be fairly easy to plant and care for, if you take a few simple precautions. Largely this means that you need to know the basics of planting asparagus, and then how to take care of it once it has been planted. Once you have understood these basics, and begun to master them, you will quickly find yourself growing some fantastic asparagus that you can enjoy with your next steak dinner.
Keep in mind though that if you are growing some asparagus plants from seed, then you will need to wait about three years before you can begin to harvest them. This hardy plant takes several years to reach full maturity so that you can actually begin to harvest it without damaging the plant too much. If you don't mind replanting the same plant each and every year, then there is no real problem with harvesting before then.
The best time to sow some asparagus seeds is roughly two weeks after the last frost of the season. This will allow the ambient temperature to raise enough so that your plants won't die after you plant them. Ensure that the soil is properly prepared for planting when you sow the seeds. Do this by planting the seeds into soil that have been mixed thoroughly with well rotted manure or compost. Plant the seeds to a depth of about 1-1/2 inches, with about 10 inches between each group of seeds. If you are planning on allowing the seeds to grow to full maturation (meaning two or three years before harvesting) keep an eye out for any seedlings that begin to produce berries. These are the female plants, and you can discard those, or place them into a greenhouse for storage and seed harvesting.
Ensuring that your asparagus plants survive through the winter takes some special care. Use a topdressing method for applying some bulky organic fertilizers to the plants to help keep them warm and fed during the winter months. If you feel it necessary, during the colder portions of the winter months, you can also add some mulching to the area to help protect the plants from the excessive cold. Be very careful when doing this though, since you could end up damaging the plants in some way.
Harvest time for asparagus is usually going to be around the same time that you first planted the seeds, so be careful with which plants you cut. When it does finally come time to harvest your asparagus, be sure that you are doing it properly. This means that you only harvest asparagus spears that are at least three inches high. Cut the plants about four inches below the soil line as well. Continue to harvest your asparagus for eight weeks after the last frost of the spring.
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