Author Topic: Are there any asparagus experts out there?  (Read 2164 times)

Beersmith

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Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« on: March 13, 2017, 19:56:03 »
I plan to establish a small asparagus bed, but this is a new crop for me. I am considering  planting in a raised bed. Are there any more experienced growers who could offer advice on the best varieties, information on planting distances, and other tips on care?

Cheers

Beersmith
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Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« on: March 13, 2017, 19:56:03 »

squeezyjohn

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2017, 21:24:12 »
I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I've planted 3 asparagus beds in my lifetime and the 3rd one was a success because of the failure of the first two!

My main bits of advice are ones I followed the 3rd time and it's absolutely made the difference between success and failure:

1 - make sure you dig out any perennial weed roots thoroughly in the area you want to plant them, and also clear the ground right around it too.  An asparagus bed can last as long as 20 years - and it hates root disturbance - so if you have bindweed and marestail then you'll have it there for the lifetime of the bed.  Also keep well away from raspberries which have a tendency to invade beds over time.

2 - They sould be fine in a raised bed - but it doesn't need sides necessarily - I planted mine on a ridge because a previous attempt drowned in a flood - they hate waterlogging.  Prepare the soil and if it is clay-ey you might want to add a lot of sand to help with drainage.  Add loads of organic matter and dig in to the bed because thereafter you can only top dress and let the worms take it down.

3 - If you can get 2 year old crowns then do.  They're big and robust and you can start picking earlier too.  The shriveled little things you get in packets of 3 in garden centres need soaking in water before planting and make very weak little plants that you need to coax through the first year.  As for variety - I think that depends on preference of flavour - I chose Gijnlim which is a commercial variety and it has done very well.

4 - In the first years when you're not picking - water well in dry spells so you get good tall ferns and support them with canes and string so they can photosynthesise as much as possible and get all that energy in to the roots.

5 - The chances are that you'll get asparagus beetle.  Read up on what their eggs and larvae look like as well as the beetles themselves.  Check them regularly as soon as the spears start to open out in to ferns and get squishing if you find any.  In an established bed the plants can normally cope with their damage, but they're annoying and need to be kept on top of for the first couple of years.

Good luck!

Beersmith

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2017, 21:31:06 »
Most helpful advice.

Many thanks.
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Tee Gee

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2017, 21:34:32 »
John has said it all this link will back it up

http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk/Data/Asparagus/Asparagus.htm

small

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2017, 18:07:07 »
I'll second that excellent advice, but would change the expected lifespan - mine are 30 years old and still going strong, hoping for a picking by the end of the week! Do make sure you have thoroughly cleared every scrap of couch - I thought I had when I moved my crowns about 25 years ago, but some pops up every year and it's impossible to clear.  I only 'got' asparagus beetle 3 or 4 years ago, but it's a dreadful pest, strips the stalks and looks revolting too. I grew from seed, Martha Washington I think. I reckon care matters more than variety - and a good chunk of luck. But it's a wonderful veg to grow, hope you have success.

Beersmith

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2017, 18:22:44 »
Thank you all.

It is always worth seeking advice at this site. Helpful and friendly comments guaranteed.
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saddad

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2017, 09:19:27 »
I grew Convers Collossal from seed over a decade ago... and the thing about perennial roots is a must... beetle can be a pain. The results are more than worth it!

delboy

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 20:08:48 »
I am that plonker who put in the raised beds within 3 feet of a row of raspberry canes.

I also put in another bed of asparagus crowns a mere foot from Jerusalem artichokes. These cause more of a problem than the raspberries.

I have learned my lesson, at last!
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dicky

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2017, 12:36:36 »
We've had ours about 7 years now. It is in a bed with planked sides, just to contain the layer of manure put on it every year, the worms dig it in for you as you can't just attack it with fork.
Stay on top of the weeds, if they get established you have go digging which can damage the crowns. A good liquid seaweed feed on a regular basis is good too.

We got the first crop of the year this weekend

dicky
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squeezyjohn

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2017, 19:03:22 »
This is my 3rd year with the properly prepared asparagus bed and we've had a nice side dish of aparagus every couple of days for over a week now!  To keep them productive in a dry spell like we've got now is to water the bed heavily and regularly for fast spear growth and nice fat ones.  It's very early and the colder weather may slow them down a bit ... but hopefully once spring is in full flow the spears should be a bit more numerous.  I am planning on a second dedicated bed, as I don't think there is such a thing as an asparagus glut that can't be overcome!

Vinlander

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2017, 10:30:23 »
Another "don't do it like I did" example:

Yes, like they say, you can get a good crop from a position in light shade, but beware of one that is in heavy shade through the autumn, even if it is sunny in spring.

I planted my asparagus bed 1/2 metre 'behind' a low grapevine (in its shadow, it's not quite a stepover, but less than a metre) and the result is a cold bed (despite getting full sun in spring), so much that the spears emerge almost a month after everyone else's.

It wasn't quite so bad until I started to mulch it heavily, but the alternative was a terrible weed invasion (and I wanted the thicker spears it can give you). It made the bed warm up even more slowly.

I tried putting black plastic over the bed in winter but I lost more spears to slugs than I gained from the faster warming. Next year I will put slug pellets under the plastic - preferably lift it and chuck them in during early March so they aren't spent by April.

Obviously there are benefits to a late crop - but I need to plant a sunny bed as well, before I can really benefit from it.

Cheers.

PS. I can see why they say dig out female plants - provided you spot them in the first year before they become productive... :BangHead: But unless your income depends on growing asparagus for 'the season' the obvious thing is to mark the females and pick them to death - you will get a nice late crop or two, maybe for the following year as well, before they die or decline to the point where they need replacing. :blob7:
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ACE

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2017, 11:45:55 »
My first productive year and they are growing fast and furious on the sunny end of the raised bed. The other end is shaded by the shed and they are very few and far between. You need a bucket of water per day per plant to really get them shooting up. I know this because as a lad I had a job in a smallholding evenings and weekends and one of the jobs was watering the asparagus, they knew the next morning if I was lazy and missed some.

AnnieD

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2020, 13:33:59 »
I've just cleared a strawberry bed, and I want to have a go at Asparagus.

Squeezyjohn recommended 2 year old crowns. I'm not having a lot of success finding these online. Any recommendations? Or should I wait until Spring and try again?
Located in Royston, North Herts.

Paulh

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2020, 16:37:29 »
Looks like the online nurseries only sell one year old crowns and thee are available only in March - May, so you have plenty of time to keep looking!

gwynleg

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2020, 16:31:06 »
Hi. I can strongly recommendíA grade asparagusí. I think they only do one year old plants but they are very strong and I was able to pick a few in the second year as they were growing away so well. They were much better than others Iíd brought online a few years ago for a previous allotment.

Iíve got mine in raised beds and planted them on individual mounds rather than long lines and trenches ( as per Charles Dowding). Seems to have worked well and was less trouble. Itís my third year this year- woohoo!!

gray1720

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2020, 18:01:16 »
I also put in another bed of asparagus crowns a mere foot from Jerusalem artichokes. These cause more of a problem than the raspberries.

That doesn't sound good... I've just put a row of fartichokes in as a windbreak next to my sparrowgrass bed!

Oh dear...
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plot22

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2020, 15:17:29 »
I have had a bed for 12 plus years. I think that most points have been already covered. I personally would not grow in a raised bed I do not see the point. I have a twin bed and the main problem is weeding . You have to get on your hands and knees and weed every week throughout the season. I can pick 100 to 150 spears every week during the picking period. The most important point which I am not sure has been mentioned is that you need to water and water every time you go up to the allotment during the picking season.
You can set your clock to when it starts to emerge in our case it is the 2nd week of April and I will pick until the 1st week of June and then completely stop no matter how many more break through. It will sulk if you get a cold snap but will start again once it warms up. I always support the ferns with barrier netting this also keeps the allotment cat out who likes to deposits his kills in the bed. When I cut the ferns  down I cover both beds with a thick mulch of farmyard manure which the worms will take in over winter.
Just a word of warning is that the roots will go a metre either side of the bed possibly even further so you have to think what you are going to plant in these areas for years to come. Potatoes carrots and parsnips are no go.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2020, 15:19:16 by plot22 »

ACE

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2020, 17:06:11 »
One of the best tips I had was to mulch with seaweed. Asparagus is salt tolerant so use it fresh if you can get some. A lot of weeds are not salt tolerant so it also cuts down on the weeding.

gray1720

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2020, 18:12:38 »
I somehow doubt in deepest Oxfordshire that I will get much fresh seaweed, but I can certainly vouch for how far the roots spread- I have a blow-in plant bang in the middle of one plot, and the roots don't half spread.

Maybe I'll move those fartichokes...
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BarriedaleNick

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Re: Are there any asparagus experts out there?
« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2020, 11:11:33 »
On our solid London clay a mate really went to town to get them going.  We are on a slope so he used that and some radiators to make a nice deep bed.  Stuck in some pipes with holes drilled for drainage.  Toped up with gravel and then sand and then a mix of soil, sand and compost on top and planted into that with a manure topping.
He gets really good results where the folks how just pop them into they clay seem to wonder where they went!

I am one of those people who can't really taste the stuff so I have never tried to grow it - everyone raves about it but it tastes of nothing to me.
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