Asparagus is a hardy perennial that flourishes in a garden setting. The plants are also commonly found along roadsides and woodlands in various locations across the United States. Planting asparagus requires patience because the first harvest cannot take place until the plants reach 3 years of age. Asparagus is either male or female. Females produce more abundant spears but they are much smaller than the males. The females also produce red berries that cause a weedy spread. Both males and females should be planted together to ensure pollination. Asparagus plants can flourish for 20 to 30 years in one location.
Choose a sunny location in the garden to plant asparagus in the early spring. Mix organic matter such as leaf debris, peat moss, green manure or sawdust into the garden soil at a ratio of 50 percent organic matter to 50 percent garden soil. Asparagus prefers a pH balance of 6.5 to 7.5. Till in 20 lbs. of 10-20-10 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet to a depth of 6 inches feet one week before planting. Water the soil thoroughly.
Plant crowns that are 1 year old. Asparagus can be grown from seeds but this delays harvest even further. Asparagus planted from seeds will be unable to be harvested until the plants are 4 years old. Plant one male and one female asparagus beside each other. If more asparagus is desired, then always plant the asparagus in pairs of male and female unless planting male-only hybrids.
Apply superphosphate 0-20-0 at a rate of 2 lbs. per 50 feet of asparagus row. Dig a trench that is 6 inches in depth. Work the superphosphate into the soil while digging the furrow. The furrow should measure approximately 18 inches wide. Lay the male and female crowns into the furrow. Gently spread the roots into the soil. Make sure the crowns are bud side up. Space the male and female asparagus 12 inches apart. Gently cover the plants with 2 inches of garden soil and firm. Water thoroughly. As the plants grow you will add more soil to the furrow. Asparagus rises as it grows, so fill in the hole with the remainder of the soil throughout the summertime plant growth.
Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch such as leaf debris, grass clipping or peat moss. Mulch will help keep the weeds at bay and help the soil retain moisture.
Clip the plants back to ground level when fall arrives. The tops will begin to yellow and die, so remove promptly. The asparagus will return in the spring.
Harvest lightly when the plants are 3 years old if grown from crowns. Clip the asparagus when it reaches 5 to 8 inches in height. Only harvest for one month and then cease harvesting until the plants are 4 years old.