Earlier this spring, I purchased 20 asparagus crowns, half Purple Passion and half Jersey Supreme. Purple Passion is said to be much sweeter and tastier than green asparagus, with none of the "strings" and toughness, so you can use the whole stalk, and even eat it raw! Jersey Supreme is a vigorous producer. Both are disease resistant.
Many people think planting asparagus is complicated, but it's really an easy plant to plant and grow. Asparagus is a long-lived perennial, often growing in the same spot for 20 years or more. For this reason, it is important to spend some time at the onset prepping the bed. It will pay off later.
Before planting you should soak your asparagus crowns in water for about an hour, especially if you mail-ordered them like I did. While they are soaking, you can prepare the bed.
Be sure to select a spot where the four foot tall asparagus ferns are not going to shade other plants. Dig a trench about 10 inches deep. Add about two inches of compost to the bottom of the trench. Set each crown in the bottom of the trench, spreading the roots in all directions. Place crowns about 12 inches apart.
Backfill the trench with only about two inches of the soil that was removed when you made the trench. As the shoots begin to grow, keep backfilling until the soil is level. It's that easy!
The roots need lots of time to develop and get strong, so it's best not to harvest your asparagus the first, or even the second year. Letting the asparagus stalks grow ferns lets the plant get energy from the sun and grow a strong root system and develop next year's shoots. It takes a while to get a harvest, so don't put off starting your asparagus garden until next year!
Information about harvesting asparagus
Asparagus pests and diseases
Tina Koral Gardens is a residential landscape design studio in the west suburbs of Chicago. For more information, visit: www.tinakoralgardens.com