Updated: 30 October at 00:52

Asparagus


Source:
http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/2564/how-to-grow-asparagus/page/all
Asparagus is a perennial crop, asparagus may be grow for 20 years or more. A sunny, well-drained part of the garden will yield the best crop. Asparagus, a good candidate for raised beds, should be planted in soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
Care
Asparagus stays healthy with breathing room. Space the asparagus crowns so you get as many plants as possible in a small area, but still allow for good air circulation to protect against disease.
Figure on 10 plants for each person in the family who loves asparagus. This ought to enable you to harvest enough at one time for a meal.
Except under almost desert conditions, asparagus, with its extensive root system, doesn’t need irrigation. Asparagus drowns much more quickly than it dies of thirst.
Fern formation is critical to next year’s growth. The asparagus will keep growing throughout the summer. But difficult as it may be, you must stop harvesting so some of the spears can go to fern, the stage when the tips turn feathery. Ferns should not be removed from asparagus plants until after several killing freezes. I often recommend leaving the tops for winter mulch. This mulch can catch snow and protect the plants from severe cold, while adding moisture. More important, however, the ferns also transfer carbohydrates and energy to the roots by photosynthesis. This process is crucial to the development of spears for the next year's harvest.
Harvest
The harvest is about six weeks long, it’s over just as many people start thinking about local summer produce. If it’s cool, the asparagus may need to be harvested every three days; if hot, every day. Older varieties had to grow for three seasons before they could be harvested. With the increased vigor of the new hybrid varieties, gardeners can harvest for about two weeks during the first season, a year after planting. A light harvest seems to stimulate the plant to produce more spears. A full six-week harvest season may follow in year two, provided the average size of the spears is larger than a pencil.
Spears should be harvested by hand when they are 6 in. to 8 in. tall and the tips are still tight. Snapping off the spear by hand at soil level. This severs the spear at the junction between the green tender tissue above the ground and the white woody tissue below. All of the stalk you get is edible, and you won’t injure spears that have not yet emerged. Thisis easy and it protects the plant. You can use a knife, but be careful not to damage developing stems.
At the end of the harvest, allow the asparagus to form ferns. They help transfer energy to the roots for good spear development the next season.