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Asparagus Growing Instructions

  Asparagus Growing Instructions

Heirloom. Organic. Asparagus a member of the lily family and is one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in the spring.  It originated near the Mediterranean Sea and was considered a delicacy by the ancient Greeks. Mary Washington is a very strong growing and productive strain producing long, thick spears in May and June depending on your season. Please do your homework prior to starting to plant Asparagus. This takes the long time to get started but the work will reward you with many years of output (20-30 years is normal).

Planting Asparagus

While starting seeds of Asparagus is not necessarily difficult, the right conditions will make the process successful. Sow Asparagus seeds directly in the ground in the spring when the threat of frost has passed or start in containers several weeks before transplanting into soil. Keep the ground moist but not wet for the first couple of weeks. Pick a sunny, well-drained spot for planting for the best performance. Asparagus prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position.

A member of the Lily family, asparagus forms a crown which sends up spears for a 6-7 week period in the spring and summer. Under ideal conditions, one spear can grow 10" in a 24 hours period, so when production begins each year, check your bed daily. (It is the outdoor nighttime temperature that determines production speed.) Although establishing a good asparagus bed requires considerable work, your efforts will be rewarded. A well-planned bed can last from 20 to 30 years. For this reason, asparagus should be planted at the side or end of the garden, where it will not be disturbed by normal garden cultivation. Asparagus is one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in the spring. Asparagus seed is slow to germinate, especially in the spring. Germination is dictated by soil temperature -- so if planting in Spring you might be looking at 50+ days to germination; whereas if planting in summer (even at soil temps of 95 degrees) you might be looking at germination of 20 days. Over 95 degrees it starts slowing down again. Create your asparagus bed in a protected corner of your garden where foot traffic will be at an absolute minimum, but where you can easily access for purposes of cultivation. Till the earth deeply (to a depth of 12 - 18"), removing any rocks, twigs, etc. Heavily compost and fertilize to prepare the bed. Although asparagus does best in areas where there is a killing freeze each year, wait until danger of frost is passed to initial sow. Then direct sow to a depth of 1/2" and 6" apart and cover seed bed with a thick bed of grass cuttings until the ferns begin to appear. Be sure to keep the seed bed well weeded and the surface of the soil lightly cultivated around the emerging ferns. The roots will take two years to develop and they develop laterally, so do not disturb in your cultivation. Spears emerging the first year should be left. Only harvest a few the second. You will note that the ferns produce little white flowers (see photo below) and then red berries. Do not cut down any of this growth until it turns brown in the fall - it is all part of the process by which your asparagus gathers energy to grow! By the third or fourth year, you are on your way to a generation of enjoyment! 

Height: 6-10”  Stalks are cut and regrowth will occur daily   Time to harvest—Three to Four Years for consistent harvest

Spacing: 12-18" inches Depth: 1/2  inch Germination: Depends on the temperature of the soil 20-50 days

Starting from Seed Indoors

Generally, the time to start your seeds is about 6-8 weeks before the last expected spring frost date in your area, planting the seedlings outdoors about 2 weeks after that date. Another way to figure is to plan on setting out sturdy seedlings in the garden when night temperatures stay in the mid-50 degree range both day and night. Count back and sow seeds 2 to 3 weeks before that date normally arrives. Place a few seeds (5 to 10) into each pot and push them into the soil with your finger. Cover the seeds to a depth of approximately 1/2 inches of the potting mix. Mist each  pot with water until the soil appears moist. Place the pots in an area which will provide both light (which is required for germination) and heat, preferably about 65 to 70 degrees F and at least 8 hours of light each day. Check on the seeds every day and keep the seeds damp but not drenched by misting with your plant mister. You should see sprouting in about 5 to 10 days. Once your seedlings have reached about 2 to 3 inches in height, choose an area in your garden to transfer them. You can also use containers like barrels or clay pots. Dig holes twice the width and depth of each of your pots. Fill up each hole with water then let it drain off. Place a pot in the hole center and level so that your seedling is at the same level as the surrounding soil. Push dirt in carefully all the way to fill the hole back up. Water each seedling carefully so as not to soak the leaves or stem.



Direct-seeding into the Garden

Turn over the area you've selected to a depth of approximately 12-18 inches. Plant Compost or rich soil to the full depth of the bed Rake the area until it's level and smooth. Water the area until the soil is damp but not saturated. Scatter the seeds in the area. Gently rake the area to distribute the seeds further and protect them from birds. Or, press the seeds into the soil and cover with no more than 1/2 inches of soil. You can also place 2 to 3 seeds every 3 to 4 inches in rows approximately 12-18 inches apart, and cover seeds with 1/2 inches of soil. Place planting stakes around the area so you will know where to water. Check on your seeds about once a day. Make sure to mist the soil whenever it appears dry. Germination for Mary Washington Asparagus plants is approximately 20 to 50 days, depending on the warmth of the soil.   

Germination Problems

Growing plants from seeds successfully depends on a lot of factors and this makes it impossible to guarantee success on every batch of seeds planted.  Factors include, soil composition, PH, temperature, moisture levels, seed depth, soil density, seed viability, seed storage and many others.  We tested the germination of all our seeds and this seed variety is around 80%, but your results may vary based on exactly how you plant and all the environmental factors.  Good luck.