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How to Grow Asparagus Plants

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Asparagus is among the first vegetables of spring. As soon as the snow melts, and the ground thaws, Asparagus roots send up shoots of new growth. These tender, young shoots, called "Spears", are what you and I enjoy so much at the dinner table. Many people consider Asparagus spears a real delicacy.

Asparagus is an easy to grow perennial plant. It one of a very few perennials in the vegetable world. The plants propagate through it's spreading root system, and by seeds. Asparagus is found growing in gardens, and can also found growing wild.

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How to Grow Asparagus:

Asparagus is planted by roots or seed. Most growers buy and plant the roots, which are easier to grow, and produces stalks sooner. If you grow them from seeds, plan on 2-years before the first harvest.

Asparagus likes full sun. Ideal pH is 6.0 to 8.0. Asparagus plants grow well in loose and slightly sandy soil that is rich in organic material. The soil should drain well. They will grow in clay, but it is harder for them to spread their roots and push the tender stalks out of the soil. In clay soils, we recommend adding plenty of compost or peat moss prior to planting.

Plants need one or two years to develop enough stalks to harvest, without seriously affecting future production.

Asparagus is a hardy plant. However, the young shoots can be damaged by frost or freezing temperatures. Damaged stalks turn black or die off.  Cut off any damaged stalks. The  affected plant should recover and will soon produce new shoots. If a hard frost is expected, cover the stalks to protect the young spears.

As June arrives, stop harvesting stalks. Allow the plant to grow undisturbed until frost in the fall. Asparagus needs to produce as much plant as possible, to grow and spread their roots for future years' crops. Plant leaves are a delicate and fern-like. The plant grows 4 to 6 feet tall.

After harvesting is complete, apply a general purpose fertilizer. Mulch heavily around plants to keep weeds down. Water plants during dry weather.

After plants have died, cut them off at ground level.

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Harvesting Spears:

In early spring, cut young spears off with a sharp knife, just below the surface of the soil. Harvest spears when they are several inches long, and the stalk is still tender. You can cut all stalks that appear for about two to three weeks. When new stalks get thin or spindly, stop harvesting spears, and allow the plant to grow.

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Insects and Disease:

Asparagus is susceptible to a variety of pests, typical of any tender plant in your garden. These include Aphids, Asparagus Beetles, and Cutworms. Insect problems most frequently occur after the spring harvest. Damage by insects can weaken or kill the plant. The plant needs a strong growing season to promote healthy root growth for next years' crop. Apply insecticides only as needed, but not during the harvest period.

There are few diseases that affect Asparagus early in the spring. Asparagus is susceptible to root rot, especially in wet soils. Rust diseases can also affect it.

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More Information:

Garden Recipes - Find Asparagus recipes and garden recipes galore!

Oceana County, Michigan claims to be the Asparagus Capital of the United States. Every year, they hold a National Festival for Asparagus.

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