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Yes, you can grow asparagus

If you wish to grow asparagus, now is the time of year to get started.

Because it is possible to have a bed of asparagus that will produce for 20 years, it is important to choose a location that will be useable for that length of time. The site you choose should be sunny and have soil that drains well. Choosing a location that is at the west side or the north side of the garden will not shade the remainder of your garden. Asparagus roots will take a year or two to provide you with spears that you can harvest.

The first step to having a successful asparagus patch is to test the soil. Asparagus likes soils that have a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Follow the recommendations from the soil test to prepare your soil for planting.

Order roots either through a local garden store or online. You want to buy 1-year-old roots that are disease free. Buying all male plants will provide you greater yield. Female plants use energy to produce seeds. Also, when the seeds fall to the ground and germinate you have an “asparagus weed” problem.

In addition to the normal green asparagus, there are purple varieties. The purple varieties will turn green when cooked. The Jersey varieties developed by Rutgers and Millennium are good choices. Each root will yield about one half pound of asparagus per year.

Two to four weeks before the last frost, dig a furrow 5 to 6 inches deep. Planting the roots deeper than this will decrease the yield. For every 50 feet of row, sprinkle one pound of 0-46-0 (triple superphosphate) or two pounds of 0-20-0 (superphosphate) or four pounds of steamed bone meal. This makes the phosphorous available to the roots immediately, which will promote vigorous growth.

Soak the roots for about 20 minutes before planting. Plants should be placed about 1 1/2 feet apart in the row. Cover the plants by filling in the furrow you dug. It can be done all at once or by covering with 2 inches and adding an inch of cover when the spouts appear. Additional rows should be spaced about five feet apart.

Water regularly for the first two years but do not let the ground get soggy. After that, watering is only required if it is a dry season.

You can harvest for about two to three weeks the year after planting and about two months every season thereafter.

So, it’s time to get busy planning your asparagus patch for a tasty spring vegetable that also makes a nice decorative backdrop for your garden.

For more tips and information, visit http://go.osu.edu/asparagus.

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