Asparagus is a highly productive vegetable best suited to cooler areas of North
and West Texas. Grown for the stems or spears, a well tended planting yields 8
to 10 pounds or more per 100 square feet of bed or 24 to 30 pounds per 100 feet
of row. For most home gardeners, one row is adequate.
An asparagus planting
lasts 15 to 25 years without replanting if it is well cared for and the climate
is suitable. It does not do well if summers are extremely hot and long and
winters are mild.
Asparagus is grown from 1-year-old plants or "crowns" planted in
January or February. Crowns grow from seed planted in flats or peat cups in
October for January transplanting, or they are transplanted from an existing
asparagus bed. To get healthy, vigorous plants, buy 1-year-old crowns from a
nursery or garden center or order them from a seed catalog. It takes 1 year to
grow a good crown.
It requires 3 years from the time the crown is planted until the bed is in
full production. Buds arise from the crown when conditions are favorable and
develop into edible spears. If these spears are not harvested and are allowed
to continue growing, they develop into "fern-like" stalks.
From these "ferns", the mature plant manufactures food and stores
it in "storage roots." This reserve supplies the energy necessary to
produce spears the following year.
Asparagus is native to Europe and the southern parts of Russia, the steppes
of Poland and Siberia. It grows wild there and is well liked by the cattle,
which eat the asparagus as grass.
It has been in cultivation for over 2000 years with about 300 species.
- Zone 3 and warmer
- Soil freezes in the winter
- Plant in Full sun.
Martha Washington, UC 157, Jersey Giant and Mary Washington tests have
shown hybrid asparagus varieties produce more than the standard varieties, but
they are not widely available to home gardeners.
Since an asparagus planting lasts many years, good seedbed preparation is
essential. The soil should be free of trash, soil insects and weeds such as
johnsongrass and bermudagrass before planting.
In late fall, spread a 3-inch layer of organic matter such as manure,
rotted sawdust or compost over the beds. Till or spade to a depth of 10 to 12
inches and turn the soil so all organic matter is covered. Asparagus grows well
in high pH soils but does not do well if the soil pH is below 6.0. Test the
soil before planting the beds and add lime if needed to adjust the pH to 6.5 to
Since asparagus will be in the same place several years, it is important to
select the right spot. Asparagus plants make a good border around the edge of a
garden or along a fence.
After asparagus beds are tilled, mark rows 4 to 6 feet apart. Dig a furrow 4
inches wide and 6 to 12 inches deep. Place the crowns in the furrow, cover with
2 to 3 inches of soil and firm the soil around the roots. Do not fill the
entire furrow at once. Plant crowns 6 to 12 inches deep in loose soils and 4 to
6 inches in heavier soils. Place crowns 12 to 14 inches apart. Planting too
closely can cause small spears. Wider planting results in larger spears but
lower total yield. Control weeds but do not injure the crowns. Fill the furrows
gradually as the shoots grow. This covers small weeds, and they die from lack
of light. By the end of the first season, the furrow reaches its normal level
(figure 1). Deep planting of the crowns allows cultivation with garden tools or
tiller (do not till too deep) without damage to crowns. 2-4 weeks before last
spring frost (soak the crowns in lukewarm water for a few hours before
| Germination Time
|Depth of Seed
|Depth of Plants
|Spacing of Plants
||3 inches(seeds), 24 inches (plants)
|Spacing of Rows
||18-20 inches(seed), 4-5 feet (plant)
||1 package for 100 plants
1 ounce for 250 plants
Maturity Dates, Yields and Storage
Problems -- Press link
Home garden asparagus can be damaged by the asparagus beetle in some areas.
If you observe insects feeding on asparagus, contact your local county
Extension agent for identification and control recommendations.
Asparagus is troubled by some diseases. If plants have rust colored spots
on the stems or branches, ask your county Extension agent what to use.
Harvest asparagus spears from established beds for about 8 weeks. Do not
harvest too soon from a new planting.
Harvest spears when they are 4 to 10 inches long. To prevent spears from
becoming fibrous, harvest at least every other day. The fibrous condition is
caused by overmaturity or inadequate fertility. Spears with loosely formed
heads are overmature.
Cut asparagus spears 1 to 2
inches below the soil level. At least one-half the length of the spear should
be above the ground. Never cut the spear within 2 inches of the crown to avoid
damage to the developed buds. Never cut asparagus spears above the ground and
allow stubs to remain (figure 4). Discontinue harvest when spear diameter
becomes less than 3/8 of an inch.
Some gardeners prefer white or blanched asparagus. This is grown by shading
the spears with mounds of soil or mulch to exclude light.
-- Press link
Pack whole spears, tips up, tightly into clean, hot jars. Pack cut pieces as
tightly as possible without crushing them. Leave 1/2 inch headroom. Add salt.
Cover with boinling water, leaving 1/2 headroom. Process in pressure canner at
10 pounds pressure(240 F)
Pints -25 minutes
Quarts - 30 minutes.
Blanch for 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the stlks. Cool
immediately in cold water. Drain ...pack into containers, leaving no headroom.
Asparagus cannot be stored, but it is an excellent canning crop.
Special Thanks to:
Jerry Parsons and Sam Cotner, Extension Horticulturists
Texas Agricultural Extension Service
Educational programs conducted
by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service serve people of all ages,
regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, handicap or
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home
Economics, Acts of Congress of May 8, 1914, as amended, and June 30, 1914, in
cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. Zerle L.
Carpenter, Director, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M
Hypertext markup and graphics colorization by Tammy Kohlleppel and Dan
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