Q. I would like to grow asparagus. How do I get started?
A. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable crop that can be planted as soon as the ground is workable in the spring. Before planting, amend the soil with plenty of compost and apply a balanced fertilizer at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. One-year-old plants, often called crowns, are preferred; they are fleshy stems with established roots. You can start asparagus by seed, but that will add a year to the establishment of the bed. Plant the crowns in trenches that are at least 10 inches wide and 6 inches deep. Spread the roots and center the buds slightly higher than the roots, making sure they are facing up. Space the crowns 12 inches apart. Cover the crowns with 2 inches of soil, adding more as the spears grow. This planting process gets the crown deeper into the soil without forcing the plant to push through 6 inches of soil all at once. Growth will be spindly for the first couple of years. Plan to harvest in year three when the diameter of the stems is larger than a pencil.
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