My 3 year old asparagus have been sending up delicious spears, but this week my 2 plants suddenly each sent up a spear that the tip immediately curled and pointed downward.
I bought them as already growing ,and in a pot from a garden center 3 years ago.
When growing asparagus do you just keep picking each spear , or does the time come to let them grow and perhaps take in sunlight and get ready for next years growth?
Have you been harvesting all the spears and never letting the asparagus form leaves?
My understanding with asparagus was to harvest nothing the first year. Harvest sparingly the second and then as the plant matures continue to harvest only the earliest spears. The rest are then allowed to grow into full leaves that photosynthesize to produce energy for next years crop.
Have grown asparagus for many years in zone 5 (southern illinois). I can't remember the first few years as i was young, but as long as i can remember we harvest every spear from the time it starts producing until about end may mid june depending on the weather. After that we just let everything grown to store energy for next years crop. Grandpa used to put cow manure over it at the end of each season but that hasn't been done since before he passed so it's been at least a decade and it still comes up. My brother in law mows the old growth with a tractor the first time he mows for the year and that's about it. As for the curling, depending on conditions i've seen it happen, but check for bugs. Other than that i'd say it's still ok and if you're in that harvest window just pick it and eat it .
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Sometimes my asparagus curls as well. I've never worried about it as it seems just to be an anomaly. Sometimes it happens, most of the time it doesn't. It's not getting progressively more common or anything. And I haven't been able to pinpoint anything different that I have done.
I harvest most of the spears early in the year, but some always get away from me, and then it generally just stops growing new spears sometime in the summer.
My favorite way to eat them is just start from the garden, just snap it off and start chomping. I find the flavor to be quite different this way, somewhat like sugar snap pea.
Mine are just getting less and less productive every year. I only harvest a few weeks. Do I just need to build the soil? I read somewhere that it was probably root diseases? They’re about 12 years old. Maybe should move them?
I've also experienced problems with Asparagus Beetles that resulted in spear curling. I successfully got them under control by hand removal (of adults, larvae and eggs); I value persistence over pesticides. Be sure to clean up all of the red fruits at the end of the season - the beetle larvae overwinter in the fruits. Good luck!
Ken, if you have not been top dressing the bed in the fall with good compost or composted manures, that can be part of the problem.
The standard harvest season should only last around 8 weeks, you need a full bed of ferns left to grow out and supply the crowns with nutrients so they will produce through out their life (20 to 25 years is normal).
The more years a bed has been growing, the longer you can take spears but you have to give the ferns at least 3 months to replenish the crowns.
If you want to have a long harvest season then you would really be wise to plant more than one bed, that way you won't end up killing your crowns through over harvesting.
I have heard of beds left to the wild, being harvested for more than 30 years after the planter had died, by the surviving friends and neighbors.
Spear curling is a genetic thing, usually not occurring much but can pop up every now and then.
Once the ferns get their red fruits it is time to cut and rake the bed then top dress with compost or composted manure for over wintering.
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Ken W Wilson
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
posted 10 months ago
Thanks, Bryant. I’ll try top dressing. It’s been a couple years. I might try moving some plants to a new bed too.
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