Experimenting with asparagus

bklyn2pok(6)March 9, 2007

I've ordered some Jersey Giant crowns from a mailorder catalog for this spring - I want to see if they'll grow in any of the sunny spots around my house. Does anyone have any advice or experience to share?

I live in the City of Poughkeepsie so I'm gardening in small sunny spaces around the back, front and side yards - hubby insists on growing grass in the best sun. My yard is surrounded by trees so the amount of sunlight varies depending on where you are.

I've got the usual wildlife issues - stray deer, skunks, groundhog (we named him Thor), racoons, squirrels (they're very well fed thanks to the butternut tree), the cat next door (decimated my catmint plants) and the ocaisional vole.

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You can also get asparagus locally - most garden centers sell the roots.
You'll need to refrigerate the ones you get in a plastic bag to prevent them from drying out. They need a fairly deep bed, plant in trenches and then slowly fill in soil over the stems as they emerge. You won't be able to cut any this year but might be able to take a few shoots next year if you do a good job of growing them.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 5:49PM
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Thanks for the advice, digging a trench or deep hole in our yard is always fun - the rock to dirt ratio always favors the rocks.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 11:55AM
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corapegia(z5 NY)

Lee Reich had a good article (Ulster Publishing, Woodstock Times, etc) about growing asparagus.. He lives in New Paltz. I'm pretty sure he has beautiful dirt. He was the speaker at a class sponsored by Cooperative Extension in Kingston. I had tried to grow asparagus when I first moved here. I dug 2 12' long 2' deep trenches and planted the crowns. My husband said I had the most wonderfully muscled back that summer. They actually did ok for a couple of years but the spot was too shady and I got a lot of asparagus beetles attacking them. But they do seem to grow in a lot of odd places so maybe you will get lucky. It's always worth a try and at least you get good exercise.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 9:29AM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

Can you start with a raised bed somewhere? It's easier than digging, a few layers of newspaper at the bottom kills most of the weeds / grass, it's easier to fill the trench in since you're just planting the crowns at the bottom and then slowly filling for the next 6 or so inches as they grow and the soil drainage should be better.

I have a few purple passions growing now in an area that gets about 6 hours of sun per day. About 1/2 of the crowns rotted due to slow drainage but the rest are doing well. I cover with about 1" of compost each fall and spring and not too much fertilizer the rest of the time so they don't seem to bee too heavy on feeding.

The biggest issue with them is to keep the weeds under control until the ferns can fill in and shade the soil. Once established, things like dandelions and horsetail are tough to get out without disturbing the asparagus roots. As for other pests, my cats like to sleep under the ferns in the heat of summer but they keep the voles / moles / squirrels away so damage has been at a minimum. Definitely worth a try.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 4:43PM
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I hadn't thought about trying in a raised bed, hmmmm. Would definitely alleviate some of my drainage issues. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 12:31PM
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I've had an incredibly frustrating time with asparagus. I've been coddling a bed for three years now and I keep losing stuff and having to replant it. Seems like drainage is the big issue. I've gotten away with amending my clay soil to one foot deep and building up from there with other plants but not with asparagues. Raised beds are definitely the way to go around here.

By the way, I have mine lightly fenced in with a low fence easily outmaneuvered by the usual suspects and my groundhog, rabbits, deer have not bothered it.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 10:34AM
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