Asparagus grows well in the Central Texas area being suited to the cooler climate here versus southeast Texas. A well tended asparagus bed can yield 24 to 30 pounds per 100 foot of row and for most of us this is just enough for your family and close friends. Asparagus is a perennial plant that can last 15 to 20 years without replanting if it is cared for properly.
Asparagus is planted from 1 year old plants or “crowns” and the time to plant is now until the weather turns warm. It takes about 3 years from the time you plant until the bed is in full production. Once the bed is in production you will see the buds or “spears” emerge from the soil line. Within a day or maybe two the spear is 4-10 inches long and is ready to be cut just below the soil surface. You can harvest asparagus for 4-6 weeks before the spears become smaller or you just get tired of eating it. Once harvest is complete the spears will grow into fern-like stalks six feet tall. It is a beautiful plant once fully grown and could be part of a flower garden if planted towards the back.
To plant asparagus you need a site that can be left alone for many years and it sure does help if there are no greenbriers or bermudagrass etc. in the bed area because once you plant you have to deal with these problems year after year. Before digging your bed add lots of organic matter and 2-3 pounds of 10-20-10 for every 20 foot of row. Till all this in thoroughly before digging your trench. The planting trench should be 4-6 inches wide and 6-12 inches deep. Plant the crowns in the bottom of the trench about 12 inches apart and fill in the trench with only 2-3 inches of soil. As you go through the first season you will continue to fill in the trench until it is full at the end of the year. We plant crowns this deep so you can come back and lightly till the bed in the winter without damaging the crowns.
Care in the season is really easy. Asparagus needs deep waterings every few days to promote deep root growth. Under the right conditions asparagus roots can grow 10-12 feet deep. Weeding is done by hand throughout the season although a heavy mulch layer will help keep weeds from being a problem.
Every year after the first killing frost you will remove the top fern growth at the ground level and fertilize with lots of compost and even some nitrogen fertilizer to promote rapid growth.
The last thing to consider is the proper variety. Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight, Jersey Supreme, UC157, and Purple Passion. Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight and Jersey Supreme and are all-male hybrids that are considered more productive since they do not waste energy on producing seed. The cost is higher initially but worth it in the long run. The crowns are shipped directly to you and should be as soon as they arrive then watch how quickly they grow.
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- Bob Whitney
- As an Agriculture Extension Agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service I have had an opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of agriculture. From the 5,000 cow dairy to the types of trees to use in a home landscape I have had a chance to learn how the different parts of an agriculture systems work together. Seedless watermelons, drip irrigation, pecan orchard management, fruit crop development, dairy nutrient management, environmental issues confronting agriculture, producer tours, field days, research projects and more have been a part of my life for over 30 years as I lived and breathed agriculture. Since 2004 I have been actively involved in consulting internationally working in Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, India, and China. I have worked with missionaries and other groups dedicated to alleviating poverty among third world farmers. I lived in the Middle East in 2007-2008 working on a project for the Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. In this project I was the Chief of Party and Team Leader for a $5.7 Million dollar effort to train Iraqi Extension agents and specialists in all aspects of agriculture.