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Asparagus

HOW TO GROW ASPARAGUS:

Asparagus is a plant that somehow brings in spring. I love asparagus and have been growing them for years and years. We only sell Mary Washington seed and plants because they produce seed. Most varieties available today are males only, and there is something wrong about that because your beds won't reproduce nearly as fast -- it will add years to get a nice bed. I have so many asparagus now that I actually get tired of eating them  every year before my harvest is over (I know this must seem impossible).

SOIL PREPARATION:

One of biggest keys to success in organic gardening is the condition of the soil.  There needs to be adequate organic matter to hold moisture and nutrients.  And at the same time, the soil needs to be loose enough for good aeration and drainage, which will help promote strong root development.

Asparagus is easy to grow if your soil has the proper nutrients. People always assume their soil is average, but unless you have a soil test it is just a guess.  More often than not, it is necessary to amend the soil to achieve optimum pH balances, as well as the proper levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Testing your soil is ideal; however, at a bare minimum, before planting anything, work in at least 2-4” of organic mulch and at least one-half inch of finished compost into your topsoil.  And if you suspect your soil is less than ideal, mix in a cup of Mega-Veggie if you feel your soil is in great condition, two cups if in good condition and 3 cups if in poor condition, into every 100 sq. ft. of soil.  This 100% organic soil amendment will make up for a lot of deficiencies.  And investing in good soil and fertilizer will pay off good dividends for asparagus – in the form of a wonderful spring harvest for years to come!

Also, mulching with compost or straw will help keep the soil moist and also help to feed the plant and prevent weeds.  Don't mulch over 3-4" because this might prevent oxygen from entering the soil and could cause root rot.

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS:

If planting from seed: Asparagus seeds need to be frozen for a couple of weeks prior to planting in order to yield the best results. Unlike most seeds, asparagus seeds can be planted before the last frost of the season, as soon as the soil is workable, without any damage to the crop. Plant seeds in full sun 1/4” deep in rich soil, then water with MegaSea seaweed solution. This will help germinate the seed and promote root growth.  Space 9” apart in rows, with 2’ between rows. If planting in raised beds, plant 9” on center.

If planting seedlings:   You are more likely to have success in planting from seedlings.  If you choose to plant seedlings, start indoors three weeks before the last anticipated hard frost. Harden them off first if you are buying or growing starts.  This is done by placing the seedlings in direct sun for an hour, then placing in the shade.   Each following day increase the time in the sun by one hour; repeat this each day until they are in the sun for 6 to 8 hours, which will take a week or so. Make sure they don’t dry out.

If you know there is a chance of hard freeze, bring seedlings inside until freeze is over. When it is safe, leave seedlings outside, placing them next to a building with an overhang and let them get used to nighttime temperatures.  The building and overhead cover should give you some protection.  After one night outside and they are used to sun, you can plant without shocking the plant.  Plant in soil when outside temperatures may go to 32 degrees but mostly stay above freezing.

When planting, use a tablespoon of bone meal or MegaStart in the bottom each planting hole. (If you’re Vegan or don’t like to use bone meal, then MegaStart is great. It’s 100% organic and animal-free. It is best to root feed with MegaSea seaweed right after planting to prevent shock.  Seaweed is better for shock prevention than any other product on the market.

FERTILIZING/AMENDING:

After planting, continue to feed MegaSea once a week by spraying leaves, and MegaFish hydrolyzed fish every two weeks through root feeding until harvest. I use a hose sprayer for fish, but just make sure you spray enough so that the roots of the plants are soaked.  If fish gets on the leaves, don’t worry, it won’t burn the leaves.

If your plants are not vigorous, they are not getting enough food and your soil is in poor condition.  If so, side dress with 2 tablespoons of MegaVeggie around the base of the plants and water in.  Continue the seaweed once a week along with fish emulsion every two weeks.  Do not let the soil dry out; soil should be moist but not soggy.

Recommended Schedule for Fertilizing and Amending Soil:
1.  Bone Meal or MegaStart -- at planting
2.  MegaSea seaweed -- at planting and once a week until harvest
3.  MegaFish hydrolyzed fish -- every two weeks after planting until harvest
4.  MegaVeggie -- if plant does not appear vigorous, every two weeks until harvest

SWEET CORN SECRET:

Make sure you plant asparagus seeds in a weed-free area of your garden, and keep the area clear of weeds throughout the life of the plants. They hate weeds!  Also, asparagus is a patience crop. For best results, it will take 3 years before the plant can be harvested and eaten.  If you try to harvest the crop before 3 years, the roots will be stunted and production will never be the same as if you had waited. Once you have waited the 3-year maturing period, the plants should begin to shoot up in early spring and give you a couple of months of beautiful asparagus crops! As spring’s end approaches, allow the plant to branch out and build its roots over the summer months. It should completely die before you clean up and discard dead branches in the fall, or wait until the next spring to clean up.

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