July 2016: Time to Plant Asparagus
Asparagus picked and eaten in your own garden really is one of life's great pleasures. You've tasted nothing like it until you have grown you own. Winter is a fabulous time to plant dormant asparagus crowns, and you will find plump, well developed Mary Washington Asparagus Crowns in stock now (late July).
Asparagus is a perennial crop which, once established, is relatively easy to grow. Left undisturbed, asparagus crowns will continue to crop for up to 20 years. Asparagus is best grown in a rich, well drained soil, in sunny and weed free spot in your garden. If you are planting asparagus for the first time, then be guided by planting your crowns in a 25cm deep trench (and approx 30cm wide). A couple of handfuls of blood and bone in the base of your trench will be appreciated by your young plants. Form a mounded ridge of soil along the bottom, and then place your crowns on the mound (being careful not to damage the fragile root system). Fill in the trench level to the top of the crowns, and then keep filling as they grow, always leaving approximately 8-10cm of stem showing.
In order to develop good strong roots and a healthy plant, try to refrain from harvesting your asparagus in the first two years. Allow those new spears to grow into fern like leaves, and at the end of winter when the leaves have yellowed cut them back.
Once your crowns are established it is important to regularly pick fresh spears to encourage the development of new ones. Feed established crowns with a complete fertiliser at the end of winter, and apply a top dressing of well rotted manure or compost, and you will be rewarded with fabulous spring spears.