How to Start Asparagus From Seed
Let’s go over how to start asparagus from seed. This requires more patience, but will save you money. Asparagus is one of the hardy perennial vegetables that you should have planted all over the homestead.
To get your own asparagus patch going, it is actually fairy easy. Time is really all you need. It will be 3-4 years before you can harvest this perennial crop. However, the good news is once you do get to harvesting, you can do it for about 20 years!
When to Start Asparagus Seeds
Asparagus seeds and onion seeds are a few of the seeds that can bring the dead of winter alive. They both take a long time to grow, so when nothing else is going on, start these seeds for some garden excitement when you would otherwise just be dreaming about gardening.
Start asparagus seeds 10-12 weeks before your last frost date. For me, in zone 4, that means the best time for starting asparagus seeds in February. I like to plant these every year since they are such a great crop to have around! Eventually, the asparagus bed will be huge!
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How to Start Asparagus From Seed
Fill up 2″ pots with moist soil.
Place asparagus seeds 1/2″ deep and cover lightly with soil.
Spray the soil surface with water.
Cover with plastic wrap to make a “greenhouse” and keep moisture and humidity in.
The soil temperatures should be around the 75 degree F range, so until germination occurs, place pots on a heating pad or in front of a wood stove to keep warm.
Germination should occur within 2-4 weeks, but can take longer. Once germination occurs, remove the plastic wrap and make sure to keep under light.
When it gets closer to transplanting time, start hardening off asparagus plants to prevent transplant shock.
Presoaking asparagus seeds in warm water before planting can help speed up germination time.
How to Start Asparagus From Seed – Winter Sow Method
If you don’t want the hassle of taking care of seedlings, try winter sowing. Asparagus seeds are great for winter sowing. Essentially, you are just letting nature do all the work. Plant your seeds in a large clear container, such as a milk jug and then set outside. When they are safe to germinate based on the weather, they will. Until then, they stay dormant.
Transplanting Asparagus Seedlings
Transplant when there is no longer a danger of frost. Asparagus will need a permanent bed as this long-lived perennial will be there for 20 years.
Look for a spot that gets full sun, a minimum of 7 hours of sunlight a day and has well-draining soil.
Plant new seedlings 18 inches apart in rows 3-5 feet apart.
Watch for weeds. If you have some perennial weeds, you can place straw around the asparagus plants to help suppress the weeds. Asparagus roots do not like to be bothered, so be really gentle when pulling out weeds.
In the fall, before the asparagus is producing red berries, it is a good idea to take a magnifying glass out to the asparagus and identify the female plants. If you look inside the female flowers, you will see green and white. Remove the young plants for your bed. You only want male asparagus in your bed as they produce the most spears.
When to Harvest Asparagus
Asparagus crowns will take 3 growing seasons before being ready to harvest. This is where the patience is required. Do not harvest n the first year or the second year after planting the seeds.
In the third year, you can now enjoy your own plants! If you are an asparagus lover, now is the time to rejoice! Check daily as asparagus can grow quickly!
Harvest asparagus spears when the reach 8-10 inches in height and about 1/2″ – 3/4″ in width. Younger and thinner spears will be more tender. The thicker spears won’t taste quite as good.
To harvest spears, take a sharp knife or scissors and cut near ground level.
What Variety of Asparagus Should I Grow?
This is all personal preference. However, heirloom varieties such as, Mary Washington asparagus is probably the most popular. Another really good variety is Jersey Giant or Jersey Knight as it is resistant to asparagus diseases.
White asparagus is just asparagus that has been planted in the shade so it can’t be green asparagus as there is no chlorophyll.
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