Do you love asparagus? Do you want to grow your own at home? If you answered yes, then this article is for you. Because, In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the asparagus growth stages.
Asparagus is a wonderful vegetable that can give you fresh and juicy spears for many years. But it is a complex plant to grow. It has different needs in different growing seasons. To get the best results, you need to be patient and careful.
You will learn how to plant, care, and harvest asparagus each season. You will also get tips and tricks to make your asparagus last longer and taste better.
By the end of this article, you will be an asparagus expert. You will be able to enjoy your own homegrown asparagus anytime you want.
Before we learn about the stages of growing asparagus, let’s first know what it is and how it grows. Asparagus is a part of the lily family, along with onions, garlic, and leeks. People have cultivated it worldwide for centuries, and it is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Asparagus has three main parts: the crown, the spears, and the ferns.
- The crown is the underground part of the plant that consists of a network of roots and buds. The crown is responsible for storing energy and producing new shoots every year.
- The spears are the edible part of the plant that emerges from the crown in spring. They are actually young stems that have not yet developed leaves or branches. You can harvest the spears when they are about 6 to 10 inches tall and have tight tips.
- The ferns are the mature part of the plant that develops after you harvest the spears or allow them to grow. They are feathery green branches that produce flowers and seeds. The ferns are important for making food and giving energy to the crown.
Asparagus has a life cycle that spans over a couple of years. It takes about two to three years for a newly planted asparagus crown to establish itself and produce a good harvest.
The plant changes a lot during this time, and you need to look after it and handle it differently.
Commencement of Asparagus Planting
The first step to mastering asparagus growth stages is planting asparagus correctly. The best time to plant asparagus is in early spring, as soon as the soil is workable.
Here are some tips on how to plant asparagus Crowns successfully:
- Site Selection: Plant asparagus in a sunny location with well-drained soil and ample room for growth. Avoid areas with standing water or weeds. Asparagus crowns are immovable once planted.
- Soil Preparation: Asparagus prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. You can check the pH of your soil with a kit or meter and adjust it with lime or sulfur as needed. You should also add compost, manure, or other organic matter to raised beds. Asparagus requires nutrient-rich soil to thrive.
- Planting Asparagus Crowns: Asparagus crowns can purchased from nurseries or online retailers. These crowns are essentially dormant roots with buds. You can also start your own crowns from seeds, but this process is more time-consuming and requires more care.
To plant asparagus crowns:
- Dig trenches in your prepared bed that are approximately 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep.
- Space the trenches about 4 feet apart to allow for the growth of the ferns.
- Place the crowns in the trenches about 1.5 feet apart, spreading their roots evenly.
- Cover the crowns with approximately two inches of soil and water thoroughly.
Early Growth Stages of Asparagus
After you plant asparagus, it takes 2-3 years to grow, depending on what kind and how you grow it. You’ll see it change a lot during this time.
- Emergence of Shoots: In spring, when the soil temperature reaches about 50°F, thin green shoots emerge from the soil. These are the first signs of life from your asparagus crowns. These shoots will grow into spears that you can harvest or let grow into ferns.
- Fern-like Foliage: When the spears get tall enough (about 10 inches), they grow leaves and look like ferns. These ferns are important for your asparagus plants because they make food and energy for the root and their systems.
Maintaining Your Asparagus: Ensuring a Bountiful Harvest and Longevity
Proper maintenance of asparagus plants ensures a good harvest and longevity. Here are tips for year-round care:
- Weed Management: Weeds can steal water, nutrients, and room from your asparagus plants. To prevent this, regularly remove weeds by hand or use a hoe. Straw on the ground can help. It stops weeds and keeps the dirt wet.
- Irrigation: Keep your asparagus bed moist during the first two years. Water deeply once a week or more often if it’s hot and dry. To prevent fungal diseases, avoid overhead watering. Instead, you can use a drip irrigation or soaker hose at the base.
- Fertilization: You need to fertilize asparagus regularly to help it grow well. Here is a feeding plan to help you use a well-balanced fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 8-24-24:
- Before planting: Add a complete fertilizer to your asparagus bed. This will give your plants the nutrients they need to start strong.
- First year: Feed your asparagus every three months with a complete fertilizer. This will help your plants grow quickly and healthily.
- Before harvests: Switch to a fertilizer with more phosphorus and potassium. This will help your plants produce strong spears for harvest.
- During fern growth: Fertilize your asparagus again with a complete fertilizer. This will help your plants grow strong ferns, which are important for producing spears next year.
- After establishment: You don’t need to add extra nitrogen to your asparagus plants once they are established.
What are the Common Pests and Diseases That Affect Asparagus Plants?
Asparagus is quite a delicate plant, and it can get sick easily. There are plenty of pests and diseases that can spoil its growth, quality, and yield.
This disease makes plants look bad, with pinkish-brown spots on their stems and leaves. It loves hot and wet weather and can travel by air, water, or touching sick plants.
If you don’t do anything about it, it can ruin your plants and make them rot from the inside. To stop and fix this disease, use plants that don’t affect it, keep things clean, water from below, and spray some medicine if needed.
Asparagus rust is a bad fungus that hurts asparagus plants. It changes four times and makes kinds of spores. The worst ones happen in the summer and make rusty spores that can get on the leaves. This disease can kill new plants, make the spears worse and less, and make the plants die sooner.
Here are some things you can do to stop and fix asparagus rust:
- Use plants that don’t get it easily.
- Throw away sick plants.
- Water from below.
- Spray some medicine if needed.
If you do these things, you can keep your asparagus plants happy and strong.
Cercospora Needle Blight:
This is a bad fungus that makes little brown spots on the needles and stems of the ferns. It can make the leaves fall off early and make the plant weak.
It likes hot and wet weather and can move by wind or rain.
To stop and fix this plant sickness, pick plants that don’t get sick easily, keep things clean, and use some medicine if you need to.
Crown and Root Rot:
Some bad fungi or water bugs cause a disease that hurts ferns. The disease makes the ferns turn yellow, sag, and die. It also rots the crowns and roots, which can make the spears worse and less and kill the plant.
To stop and fix this disease, you need to use healthy plants, make the soil drain better, change crops, be careful not to hurt the crowns and roots, and spray some medicine if needed. The disease loves wet and soggy soils, hot soil, and when the plant is unhappy.
Asparagus aphid is a bug that sucks the juice out of asparagus plants. This makes the plants look twisted, bent, and yellowish and stops them from growing well. Also, the bugs can give the plants some nasty diseases that make them worse.
These bugs like it when it’s cool and dry, and they usually hang out in big groups under the leaves.
To keep these bugs away from your asparagus, you can do a few things. First, pick asparagus types that are okay with bugs. You can befriend animals that eat bugs, remove extra asparagus plants, and avoid using excessive plant food. And if you truly need to, you can spray some bug killer to eliminate them.
Asparagus beetles are bugs that harm asparagus plants. They eat the spears and ferns, which can cause damage like scarring, browning, wilting, and deformation.
They can also lay eggs on the spears, which can reduce their value. You can find two types of asparagus beetles – the common and the spotted. The common asparagus beetle is more harmful than the spotted one. Both types like warm weather and can damage all parts of the plant.
Suppose you want to prevent and treat asparagus beetle infestations. To address the problem, you can take several steps. First, use strong asparagus.
Next, pick off beetles by hand or with a vacuum. Additionally, tidy up the plants. It is also helpful to support natural enemies. Finally, if necessary, you can use bug spray.
To successfully grow asparagus and yield a plentiful harvest, it is important to properly care for your plants. Regularly inspect them and promptly address any issues that you discover.
To harvest asparagus correctly, you need to wait for the right time. Here are some tips to help you.
- Harvest Time: Wait for a year after planting asparagus crowns before harvesting any spears. In the second year, gather a few spears for two weeks in late spring or early summer. You can harvest more spears from the third year onwards for six to eight weeks, depending on the weather and variety.
- Harvesting Technique: Harvest asparagus spears using a sharp knife or scissors. Cut at soil level when 6-10 inches tall with tight tips. Only take thick, tender spears, leaving thin ones to grow into ferns.
As winter is approaching, it’s time to get your asparagus bed ready for dormancy and protection. Here are some tips on how to care for your asparagus plants in winter:
- Cleaning Up Asparagus Ferns: In winter, your asparagus ferns turn yellow and die. That’s normal. Cut off the dead ferns and throw them away or compost them.
Please don’t leave them on the ground. They can make bugs and diseases.
- Mulching: After you cut the ferns, put a lot of straw, leaves, or pine needles on your asparagus bed. This will keep the roots warm and stop weeds from growing in spring.
How to Extend the Season to Get More Asparagus?
Here are some tips on how to get more of this delicious veggie for longer:
- Managing Multiple Varieties: To make your asparagus last longer, grow different kinds that are ready at different times. To enjoy fresh asparagus throughout spring and summer, plant a variety of types. Consider early varieties like Jersey Knight, middle varieties like Purple Passion, and late varieties like Mary Washington. This will ensure a steady supply of delicious asparagus all season long.
- Growing in Containers: You can also grow asparagus in pots that you can move around. For example, you can put some roots in pots in winter and keep them inside until spring.
Then, you can take them outside when it’s warm and get some early asparagus.
Or, you can bring some pots inside in the fall and keep them in a bright spot until winter. Then, you can get some late asparagus.
1. How Long Does It Take for Asparagus to Grow from Seed?
Growing asparagus from seeds is a slow process that takes four years to yield good results. To begin, plant the seeds in pots indoors 70 to 85 days before the end of the cold season. Once warm outside, move the pots outdoors and wait three years. At this point, you will be able to harvest asparagus.
2. Can I Grow Asparagus in a Container on a Balcony?
Yes, Successfully Growing asparagus on your balcony in a container is possible, provided you have enough space and sunlight.
Follow these steps:
- Get a large, deep container with proper drainage.
- Fill the container with good-quality soil.
- Place one or two asparagus roots in the container.
- Water and fertilize your pot as you would for in-ground asparagus.
- Avoid harvesting too much asparagus during the first two years; wait for better yields later.
- Bring the pot indoors or protect it with straw or insulation when winter comes.
Remember that pots are more susceptible to freezing than the ground.
3. When is the Best Time to Fertilize Asparagus Plants?
Asparagus plants need regular fertilization to grow well and produce a good harvest. The best time to fertilize asparagus plants is twice a year, once in early spring and once after the harvest.
You should apply the fertilizer around the base of the plants, avoiding the crowns and the shoots.
4. How Do You Get Seeds from Asparagus?
To procure asparagus seeds, one should wait until autumn, when the berries have attained a vibrant red hue. The seeds can then be collected from the desiccated berries and soaked in water prior to planting.
Here is a step-by-step guide:
- Envelop the foliage in a paper bag or bucket to collect the seeds when the berries burst open.
- Once the tops have fallen over, harvest them and suspend them upside down in a warm, arid locale for approximately one week to ripen.
- To catch the seeds once they are fully desiccated, place a bowl beneath them or gently tie a brown paper bag around the tops while they are suspended.
- Soak the seeds in water at room temperature for at least two hours before planting.
To grow your own asparagus, you need to know how it grows. Plant it right in a sunny, well-draining spot with fertile soil. Be patient during the early years, caring for your plants and controlling weeds.
When the time is right, harvest the spears carefully. In winter, clean up the ferns and protect the crowns with mulch.
For a longer harvest, try different varieties and use containers. You can grow asparagus like a pro and enjoy its health benefits with this knowledge. Start growing and enjoy the fresh flavor of your own asparagus.
I am Gaushoul Agam,
𝐂𝐨-𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 & 𝐂𝐄𝐎,
As an experienced SA Horticulture Officer in the Horticulture Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, I am dedicated to advancing agriculture and farming.
With a mission to address global food safety challenges amid a growing population, diminishing arable land, and the impacts of climate change on agriculture, I founded ToAgriculture. Through this platform, I empower readers with modern agricultural techniques, effective pest and disease control, and sustainable agricultural management, leading to a more secure and prosperous future in agriculture.
With over four years of expertise in field crops and seven years in horticulture crops, my knowledge spans fruit and vegetable farming techniques, adept pest-disease management, proficient irrigation strategies, and the art of grafting. Join me on this journey of discovery as I share insights and experiences to guide readers toward a sustainable future.