In the marketplace, asparagus is a major commercial crop – particularly in the United States, Australia, Europe, China, Mexico, and Peru. Given the diverse array of pesticides and chemicals used in commercial asparagus cultivation, an excellent way to stay healthy and keep yourself engaged this spring is to grow your organic asparagus in your backyard! Not only will you have an abundance of fresh and tasty asparagus for the table, but you will also have the satisfaction of knowing your crop is free of noxious chemicals and pesticide residue.
Professional organic gardeners suggest that asparagus grows best in a sunny location with well-drained and fertile soil. Asparagus can also be used as a new excellent companion plant along with parsley, tomatoes, rhubarb, raspberries, and basil. This will also help replenish nutrients in an orderly manner.
As a dioecious plant, an asparagus sapling can be either male or female. The female saplings grow and focus their energies on reproduction. Studies have shown different ways to identify and differentiate between the male and female asparagus. Male asparagus saplings produce thick, firm spears and do not present weedy problems.
The asparagus bed once laid, remains productive for decades. Preparing a bed at the onset of spring is highly advised. The soil should be tilled until the dirt clods break and the soil is loose and crumbly. After removing rocks, roots and weeds, til again to get fresh, productive, rich soil.
To establish healthy organic asparagus bed, keep these points in mind:
• Cultivate soil to a depth of 12-inches deep.
• Spread a 4-6 inch layer of well-aged herbivore manure on the top of the bed for extra nutrients. Because asparagus tends to use up nutrients fast, well-age manure must be added to the soil twice a year – in early spring and late fall.
One of the most important steps in cultivating asparagus is the preparation of the planting bed. The key is to spread the plants in 6-inch deep trenches across 12-18 inches of width.
Keeping a distance of 18-inches between rows of plants gives enough space for the roots to expand in the soil, ensuring a proper supply of water and nutrients and provides the gardener with enough space to weed between the rows.
Cover the roots and crowns of the plants with 2-3 inches of soil. This is done so when the plants establish and grow taller, the crown of the plant remains covered with soil. Experienced gardeners recommend placing an additional 2 – 4 inches of soil between the rows so as to facilitate individual plant growth.
If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves so as to avoid skin irritation caused by coming in contact with the plant. Some people exhibit skin sensitivity to fresh asparagus.
Asparagus beds need to be taken good care of once they start developing and growing plants. The plants produce a thick layer of roots, which grow horizontally and not vertically. The beds may even require a substantial amount of weeding. Any invasive plants that sprout on the bed must be handpicked carefully so as to avoid beetles and other pests.
After so much of hard work, the only thing you must keep in mind that asparagus must be harvested during or after the onset of the third season and not until then.
One asparagus planting is picked up 20-times a season. You can harvest young stalks by cutting shoots off the ground level. Keep in mind that asparagus deteriorates in quality quickly. Harvest only required quantities to avoid wastage. Happy Planting!