I enjoy a good side of asparagus. I would like to plant this in the garden, however, I have had friends warn me off the crop because it is pops up all over where you don't want it. Have any of you here in growies land had any asparagus experience in keeping a good crop contained to its own areas without having to box it in from your regular garden plot?
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If you grow from seed you will get a mix of male and female plants and those may if they like your place self sow. If you buy crowns of a F1 variety then you will only get males so they will not spread at all. Males produce thicker spears than females and more overall weight. I have just planted 150 seedlings out in a nursery bed, the seedlings are quite fragile I can't see them being a huge issue to weed out if they get where you do not want them.
You might also be able to get seeds of an all male variety such as Jersey Knight, though I've heard user reports that a few of the resulting plants do turn out to be female. I bought Jersey Knight seeds from Johnny's Seeds, and have had high germination, but it's too soon to tell how many are female. Now Johnny's says they no longer sell Jersey Knight and it is replaced by Millennium. The text on that page says "Higher proportion of male plants" that Jersey Supreme (doesn't mention Knight), so I dunno.
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I've never had problems with it spreading/self-seeding too much. The seeds are large and the local wildlife don't seem particularly interested in them, so while I've had it self-seed, it's never been outside of the beds I have them in. Goodness knows, I would love it if the birds spread it far and wide instead of the poison oak, but no such luck.
Timothy Dowty wrote:I enjoy a good side of asparagus. I would like to plant this in the garden, however, I have had friends warn me off the crop because it is pops up all over where you don't want it. Have any of you here in growies land had any asparagus experience in keeping a good crop contained to its own areas without having to box it in from your regular garden plot?
Actually, you will *want* to box it in, not because the asparagus will 'escape', but because quack grass will come in if you don't.
Regular/wild asparagus that pops up everywhere are mixed male and female plants. Those will flower like all flowering sexual beings. When you purchase asparagus plants, they may be highly hybridized and you will get only *males* plants: They give the biggest spears because they will reproduce *asexually/vegetatively/without making flowers*: So they don't exhaust themselves making seeds. [I really don't know how they do it, but they do it.]
So it depends how you want to be growing your asparagus. We have sandy soil here, so asparagus, wild and not grows quite well, even in a zone 4b with very cold winters.
A couple more tips to maximize yield:
You may want to solarize the soil by laying a clear plastic over the area during the previous growing season. [I didn't, but that's because I didn't want to bother].
* it 'tolerates' shade but need 8 hours of sunlight to produce their best.
*When planting, place your crowns apart and *spread them*[Don't trench, like you might do strawberries by planting your shovel and moving the spade back and forth to make a slit]. Lay them flat and spread the roots like the spokes of a wheel, then put the soil back over the plant, light the first year at planting, then heavier.
* Asparagus is a heavy feeder: Give it your best seed free compost/ chicken manure. Nitrogen high.
* Mulch it plenty. My roots don't even spread out until 6" below ground. The first growing season, go easy on the mulch so you don't suffocate your plants. Before the first winter, pile it on if you are in a really cold zone, even if you must remove the mulch partially in the spring [put little flags where the roots are in that case].
*The first 2 years, DO NOT HARVEST. Yeah, I know, it is tempting, especially if they put thumb sized spears like mine did, but resist the temptation: The plants need to grow strong before you start taxing them like that.
*Wait until the top growth is dead before you remove the fronds and install mulch. I like to burn the fronds in place, with a torch: Asparagus like ash. I even add a little ash from my wood burning pile in the fall.
* Be super attentive to weeds invading the bed, quack grass in particular. It will pass under a bed and start to invade when it senses good loose soil! It is all too easy to steal the spears and abandon the plot until next year. And yes, the asparagus will escape the confines of a bed for the same reason that quack grass will come in: Unless you trench to over a foot, that bed 'barrier' is porous and like all plants, asparagus is adventurous.
Good luck to you. Asparagus is expensive in stores, so it is well worth the extra effort to grow your own. Tended properly, your bed should last 7 years, more or less.
After 7 years, you will still be able to take a few, but they won't be so abundant. Abandon them and prepare a new bed. Get new crowns as asparagus does not transplant as well when it is full grown, although I have successfully split a large asparagus plant and transplanted it. If you do, same thing: Let it recover one year before you pull from it.
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