Asparagus is a perennial plant that can give you produce annually as long as it is properly established and maintained. The recommended way of planting this crop is from its crowns. Asparagus crowns include the whole root system of a grown asparagus plant that is either 1 or 2 years old. This part is easier to grow than starting from seed.
Once grown, the vegetables slender, green stalks are not only pleasing to look at but also full of nutrients. Every after harvest in spring, add asparagus to your salads or side dishes. You can either consume these raw or slightly steamed for a boost of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and folate. Continue reading to know how long can you keep asparagus crowns before planting.
How Long Can You Keep Asparagus Crowns Before Planting?
After you purchase asparagus crowns from your local vegetable crop store, it is best if you plant them immediately. However, if this is not possible, you can only store them for a maximum of 1 month in optimum conditions to prevent them from completely drying out or rotting. So, it will be better if you prepare your garden bed before buying asparagus crowns.
Tips in Keeping Your Asparagus Crowns
TIP #1: Maintain the Crowns’ Moisture
Cover your asparagus crowns in a used paper during storage. It is best to spray water at least once a week to maintain their moisture. Moreover, storing them for a while can give you time to see any defective crowns.
It is a big possibility that your crowns might sprout during storage so do not panic because this is completely normal. This is a good indication that your crowns are viable and that they are ready to be planted.
TIP #2: Do Not Let The Crowns Dry Out
Do not expose crowns to direct sunlight. Store them in a cool place out of the sun because if subjected to a hot environment, they will dry out and wither.
TIP #3: Maintain Optimum Storage Temperature
Store them in an area with temperatures ranging from 38-42 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, ensure that you situate them in a place with at least 85% humidity. However, be careful not to let a lot of water to accumulate on them as this can result in molds and eventually lead to rotting.
TIP #4: Temporary Plant your Asparagus Crowns
Another option is to store asparagus crowns in moist potting mix. You can also temporarily plant them in the sand while you are preparing for their permanent place. Just make sure that the sand remains damp throughout your storage time.
Steps in Planting Asparagus Crowns
Ensure to follow the additional tips incorporated in the following steps below so that you can properly establish your asparagus plant. If given utmost care and maintenance, the plant can supply you yearly with the bountiful yield for more than 10 years!
Step 1: Obtain Crowns
Buy dormant asparagus crowns from agricultural stores near you. It is recommended that you buy them in the early parts of spring before they sprout. However, if you still want to obtain crowns even after this time, other nurseries preserve dormant crowns in coolers. You can also order them online.
Additionally, crowns have varieties. There are what we call female and male plants. If you want to plant the variety that gives the highest asparagus spears, choose and plant the all-male hybrid kinds like Jersey Giant. These are highly productive when compared to other kinds and are also observed to be more disease resistant.
Step 2: Prepare Your Garden Bed/Planting Area
A four by the eight-foot bed can host 10 crowns. This amount is already enough to feed four to five people. On the other hand, you can also plant your asparagus crowns directly in the ground. To guide you on how to prepare your planting area, refer to the details below:
1. Asparagus requires well-draining, non-acidic soil.
To achieve this, add a hefty amount of mulch and compost and mix thoroughly. These organic materials help neutralize the soil. Moreover, this can also improve soil quality and therefore improve the growth of your plants. Additionally, for long-term fertility, add soil enhancements such as organic fertilizers, wood ashes, aged manure, and plant foods.
2. Remove any remaining vegetation debris from the area.
It must be set to host your asparagus crowns only. Also, take off any growing weeds. This will prevent competition.
3. Loosen the soil to 10 to 15 inches in depth.
Till the soil rigorously because this will ensure efficient aeration. Moreover, this will allow your asparagus crowns to establish itself in the soil free from hard clumps of impacted soil.
4. Start digging trenches
The recommended size is 6inch to 8inch deep and 12inch wide. Make sure that there is enough space between trenches if you plan to create more than one. Make your trenches 3 feet apart.
5. Create An Enriched Soil Mix For Mounds
After the trenches have been made, proceed to create an enriched soil mix for mounds. You will set your asparagus crowns on these mounds later. To create the mixture, add organic vegetable fertilizer to the soil. Also, you can incorporate additional soil nourishment that is high in potassium to further enrich the mounds.
Set-up these enriched mounds in rows within your trenches. These mounds must be 2 feet apart and at least 6 inches high.
Step 3: Plant Your Asparagus Crowns
Before planting your crowns, soak them briefly in warm water. Then, place your asparagus crowns on top of the enriched mounds within your trenches. Afterward, spread their roots around evenly. Check if proper distancing of the crowns is observed. They must be at least 18inch apart from the root tip to another crown root tip.
Subsequently, cover the crowns with 2 inches of soil. Fill the spaces between each mound as well. Next, this is the first time you will water your crowns so water deeply.
Step 4: Help Establish Your Asparagus Plant
As your asparagus plant continues to grow, you have to help it further establish itself. When about 2 to 3 inches tall spears start to come out of the soil, add additional enriched soil so that the growing spears are almost buried again. Be careful not to bury them completely.
Repeat the addition of mulch and enriched soil once the spears grow again. Continue this until the trench is already ground level. Remember not to let water pool around the newly emerging spears. If pooling happens, just modify the soil around to proper drainage can happen.
Continue to add mulch around the plant for the first year of planting. Keep the soil moist but not too wet. Also, do not harvest the spears yet during this establishment and growing period. You can only start harvesting asparagus spears during the second year of your plant.
Proper maintenance will help your asparagus plant develop a strong root system that will sustain it for the rest of the years. Furthermore, asparagus benefits and thrives from really rich soil so always add compost, aged manure, plant food, and fertilizers.
Step 5: Harvest
You can only harvest spears during the second year of your asparagus plant. While on its second year, harvest only developed spears with sizes ranging from 4 to 7 inches. Collect only one week during this time. You do not want to stress your plant early by over-harvesting.
As another year is added, you can now harvest all emerged spears for two weeks. Continue adding weeks as years pass until you can collect all the spears over a six-week growing period.
To keep your plants root systems strong, leave a few spears to grow into adulthood every year. These mature spears can grow up to 3 to 4 feet especially during summer. Doing this will help make your asparagus plant produce more and bigger spears as the years go by.
You can keep asparagus crowns for 1 month as long as you prevent it from drying and rotting. Planting asparagus using asparagus crowns will take you a year before you can harvest its nutrient-packed spears.
This may sound like too long but once you have established your plant, you can reap its benefits and harvest asparagus spears for an additional 10 years!