Asparagus plants prefer a deep sandy loam.
Plant in April, spreading out the roots and setting the plants 15 inches apart, the crowns to be 5 inches below the surface. When cutting, it should be remembered that no shoots should be removed the first year, a moderate quantity the second, and freely afterwards. The shoots should not be lese than 6 inches long when cut.
Constant hoeing should be done in order to keep down the weeds. Apply manure at frequent intervals. Cover with manure in November when the stems should be cut down, and leave till March, this will form a protection. Cease cutting in June.
Asparagus may be propagated by seeds sown in drills 1 inch deep and 12 inches apart in March or April. Thin out to 3 feet apart when 3 inches high, transplanting to their permanent beds when two or three years old. The plants are ready for cutting after the fourth year.
A quarter-pint of seed will sow a row 50 feet long.
Green Canadian and Paris Market are two good varieties of Asparagus, worthy of cultivation in the amateurs garden.
Even with a small garden it is worth finding room for a row or two of this most delicious, luxury vegetable. Asparagus is not difficult to grow, as many people wrongly imagine, but you do need to be patient since it takes around three years for the plants to become fully productive. An asparagus bed has a useful life, however, of about 20 years.
Aspect: Open, sunny and, if possible, on a southerly slope.
Climate preferred: Cool temperate to subtropical.
Soil: Light, sandy and alkaline is the ideal, but heavy soil can be made suitable by the addition of plenty of compost; good drainage is vital.
Make a soil test to check on the alkalinity of the soil. In late autumn, cover the soil to a depth of 15 cm (6 in) with well-rotted garden compost or manure and dig or fork this into the soil. In late winter, add lime as necessary according to your soil test. The soil should ideally be pH 7.5. Order two-year old asparagus plants, called ‘crowns’, for delivery in mid-spring. These should be set in rows 38 cm (15in) apart with 60cm (2ft) between the rows. Keep the bed free from weeds and make sure the plants do not go short of water. In early or midsummer give the bed an annual top dressing of vegetable fertilizer at the rate of 70gm per sq m.
Pests and diseases
Asparagus beetles1 larvae feed on the foliage and leave the stems bare. The remedy is to spray with derris if you see any greyish grubs. Cut worms eat young roots. Slugs eat shoots.
Do not cut any asparagus the first season after planting. In the second season, cut no more than one thick shoot from each plant. In the third season, cut all the shoots which appear in the first five weeks. In the fourth and the following seasons, cut all the shoots that appear up to mid early-summer. Then allow the bed to develop ferns. Store your surplus crop by freezing.
Planting to harvest time: The plants crop in the second year from crowns.
Yield: 2kg (41 lb) to a 3m (10ft) row, but the yield increases with the age of the plants.