Asparagus is a perennial plant which dies down in winter but it would last for 15 years if not disturbed.
It can grow to 100 to 150cm tall. Its leaves are needle-like cladodes, its flowers are bell shaped they are greenish-whitish to yellow in colour.
There are three types of asparagus plants; the green, purple and the white asparagus.
Growing asparagus is very much fun and interesting for all those gardening lovers. The green and purple asparagus are the common species of the asparagus consumed world wide.
The white asparagus is also consumed but is the rare and expensive winter delicacy in northwest Europe. Young shoots from the asparagus plant are the only plant parts eaten.
When to plant asparagus plants?
When you are growing asparagus you can plant asparagus roots or their crowns in August, 2 feet apart in rows of about 3 to 4 feet apart. You should plant at least 17 plants, do not expect a full plant in the next two years but this depends on the vigor of the crowns.
Seed grows much easier than the roots or the crowns but if you use the seeds you should not harvest the spears until the fourth year. After a year, you can choose the strongest seedlings and transplant.
How To Plant Asparagus?
Plant the crowns firmly in a trench so that they are about 8 inches below the surface and cover with 3 inches of soil. The soil used in growing asparagus is very different from many other soil compositions. Asparagus needs sandy, well drained, neutral soil (pH of 6.5-7). This soil needs to be mixed with plenty of kraal manure and compost.
While growing the plant you should water deep each week if there is not enough rain. Midsummer you need to apply ammonia nitrate, it has to be done when the soil is still moist. Every winter you need to cover the top soil with the same mixture.
Don’t forget to add fertilizer 6:3:2 to the mixture as well. It is important when growing asparagus you should stop watering the plants during winter months if you are in the Southern African region it means you stop watering in April till mid-July.
Harvesting Asparagus Plants
Harvesting asparagus spears has to be done using one specific special made rod, sharpened and flat at one end which is inserted below the soil, sever the stalks as soon as the tips break the surface.
For the first season, the spears need to be cut for only two to three weeks then leave the tips to grow into greenery. Mature plants can be harvested for longer periods of about seven to eight weeks.