Asparagus Seedling Planting Instructions
How to Plant and Care for your Asparagus Seedlings
Why should you buy seedlings?
- Easier to plant than crowns
- Start picking spears the following spring
- You can grow a harvestable crop of spears in year two if established and cared for properly. Year two is the same age as a crown, whose establishment takes another 1-3 years until harvest.
The following pictures show the progression of our asparagus plants from seedling to full harvest.
May 27, 2019. Planting the seedlings. Adding lots of compost!
September 5, 2019. After one season in the ground.
May 26, 2020. This is a one year old plant which grew multiple spears (six are popping through the ground in this photo), some thin and some thick, very typical. We harvested a few of the largest spears, and only from the strongest plants. Limiting harvest can ensure a bigger harvest next year.
May 22, 2021. Full harvesting started.
July 11, 2021. Two year old asparagus patch.
How many plants should I plant?
- 10 plants are enough to feed one person
How to prepare the asparagus bed, and plant the seedlings?
- Avoid planting in wet soils, keeping in mind that asparagus roots can penetrate several feet deep
- Amend the soil by adding compost into the bed the fall or spring prior to planting the seedlings
- Plants should be spaced 18” apart, in rows 4 feet apart
- In heavier soils, plant the seedlings 4” deep, whereas in well-drained soil plant the seedlings at a depth of 8” or more. The tips of the seedling might just be at soil level.
- Cover the roots in the hole with soil, but the hole will remain until the plant grows taller (see picture below).
- Simply fill in the hole gradually as the fronds grow taller.
You can see the small green seedlings inside each planting hole. Roots are buried under soil. Compost was mixed into the soil within each hole prior to planting, as well as spread along the soil surface between the two rows of asparagus. Straw was then spread over the bed, to cover the soil, for reasons mentioned below. (You can also dig a trench to plant your seedlings.)
How to care for the asparagus bed?
- Add compost every fall, followed by a layer of straw or chopped leaves
- In the spring, after you harvest, add more straw and chopped leaves into the bed between the spears. This organic mulch feeds the soil food web, helps to hold the moisture in the ground, suppresses weeds, and helps to regulate the soil surface temperature
- Remove weeds
- Remove any plants that are producing berries (these are the female plants), and replace them with male asparagus plants, if you desire. This is completed for two reasons.
- Plants that produce berries will drop the berries onto the soil surface and grow more asparagus plants. This will lead to too many plants in your bed causing increased competition for resources (compost, sunlight, and water), and leading to a reduction in overall production while potentially reducing the health of your plants. Plants typically produce berries in late summer of year two. Until these plants are identified as female and removed, they will be competing with the male plants.
- Female plants tend to produce fewer spears than male plants. It is likely that they are saving their energy for producing seed later in summer.
- If you notice asparagus pests, pick them off your plants. And be sure to plant a variety of native perennials in close proximity, which will attract beneficial insects that will consume the pests. I do offer an Asparagus Beetle Buster Plant Pack, through my nursery.
- Also, based on soil test results, amend your soils to improve plant health over time. Healthy plants are pest resistant. Pests cannot produce the digestive enzymes needed to break down plants with sugars above a threshold level.