Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables? Are you tired of going to the grocery store to shell out money for chemical-infused vegetables? Here is a simple solution for you: Growing your vegetables from the ground up! A perfect example to show will be the asparagus plant.
Before I tell you about how to grow asparagus in your garden, let me tell you the benefits of growing your own asparagus (or vegetable, in general). Not only is growing your own vegetables cost-effective, but these plants are less likely to develop transplant shock than nursery-cultivated vegetables and plants. You also get a better yield from growing your own vegetables.
Now, how do you grow your own asparagus? Obviously, you must start off by getting some seeds. You will find asparagus in Western Europe. Asparagus can also be grown in USDA zones 2 through 8, which means it can be grown anywhere with the exception of Hawaii, Alaska, and the northernmost/southernmost parts of the continental United States. Asparagus are viable for 10 to 20 years once they've been planted. Reputable brands such as Jersey, Mary Washington, Purple Passion, and Apollo are good for growing.
Now that you've planted your seeds and watched them grow, you must cultivate them! But how do you do that? You must cultivate the seeds from the fallen heads of asparagus. Female asparagus plants produce berries, which turn bright red. Hang the fallen tops upside down in a warm, dry position. To catch the berries, place the tops in a brown paper bag with a container underneath under the seeds to catch the berries.
Now, where should you grow them? Sowing the seed undercover indoors or in a greenhouse from mid-February on. The ideal temperature will be around 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You can directly sow asparagus seeds into well worked garden beds in the warmest climates.
To grow the best asparagus plant, soak the seeds for a couple hours. This will soften the shell and encourage germination. Germination will occur faster in warm climates than in cooler climates and should occur in two to eight weeks. Plant a seed half an inches deep in small two-inch pots and place under bright lights. Just because the seeds are done germinating does not mean you should stop watering them, though!
If you are doing this in the ground, i.e. a garden bed, keep the garden weed-free (obviously) and with quality soil. Plant your asparagus seeds in the northern and eastern plots of your garden so that other plants won't shade your babies. That doesn't mean asparagus plants will die without sun; a bit of shade won't hurt them. Make sure the seeds are spaced out about two inches each (keep the seeds socially distanced!) when they are large enough to handle and thin them out even more when the seeds grow at least six inches. Space them out eight to ten inches apart and plant the seeds four inches deep. Plant the seeds 12-14 inches apart and six inches deep for thicker spears. Make sure your seeds are properly socially distanced! To prevent diseases from affecting your plants, plant your seeds in uncultivated gardens. Crop rotation also helps keep the pests and disease away as well.
Planting your seeds in sandy loam soils will help your asparagus plants the most. If you want the soil to drain well, work the soil over well. Keep the pH between 6.5 to 7 as well and use sulfur to lower the pH levels (I'm sure Amazon has sulfur like they have everything else. Maybe get a soil testing kit as well?).
Don't forget to water well and fight those slugs and snails! Keep the soil moist as much as you can! Cover the crown with soil as the seed grows. Fertilizing each spring with one or two cups of organic fertilizer per 10 ft row will help your babies. Be gentle, though! Your babies don't want to be hurt! If you want a good complimentary plant, get a tomatillo or a tomato plant. These make for good companion plants and fight off the asparagus beetle (aptly named for a villain of the asparagus) and nematodes. Petunias and pot marigolds are other good companion plants to use.
Don't harvest them until the third year. Instead, allow the plants to set their ferns before cutting said ferns down to about two inches in the late fall. Asparagus plants don't mind freezing temperatures for a bit, for it allows them to become dormant. If freezing temperatures aren't your thing, withhold water since a period of drought has the same effect. Continue this cycle until the third year, when your babies are ready to go.
Always read your seed packets before packing! They should tell you about common issues such as crown rot and fusarium wilt (Google can also do that), along with how to combat other issues. Harvesting the plants will require a sharp knife that will cut the spears down to about one to two inches above the ground. Most beds can be harvested from April to mid-June. Here's the harvesting period for the years:
Are you ready to undertake the task of growing asparagus? If you can grow asparagus, you can grow just about any vegetable, especially with that newfound bit of patience you've just gained! The end result is well worth it!
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