Asparagus Says It's Spring


#1

It hasn't been but a few days since I carefully looked at the asparagus bed, searching and hoping for at least one spear to be poking it's head out. I had too much to try to do today, and didn't take the time to stroll casually around, checking vegetables as well as fruit trees.

This afternoon I was planting a nectarine tree and caught something out of place with my peripheral vision. A fat 8" tall purple spear proudly stood claiming the right to declare itself the earliest riser. There were other spears, but none as tall. It must have been waiting for me to stop watching and turn my back, so that it could stealthily rise from it's bed. Now it's officially spring!


#2

Good to hear, Muddy, as your us east coasters' proverbial bellwether.


#3

YEP!!!!! I picked 2 spears and just ate them raw yesterday since they were all I had. So nice to see them coming up!


#4

Year three for my asparagus bed and I resisted picking any at all last year. Love hearing you're getting your first volunteers, so hopefully I'll have a victim soon!


#5

None here in south central IL. Most of my records indicate the first spears around Mar 20. Last year, it was the middle of April!! I've been adding anywhere from 100-300 each year for the last 5 years. My oldest is in its prime at 8 years, so I have quite a range of assorted ages. Varieties also emerge at different times. Millenium is always the last to emerge, and each Jersey variety comes up at a different time. Can't wait for the harvest. Then again, after having to pick it at least once a day every day for a month or more, I'm always grateful when it slows down.


#6

Just curious about other asparagus growers. As you can see from my post above, my first spears popped up 19 days ago. Typically, once a few show up, its no more than a week until every crown in my bed is sending up spears. But not this year...very strange. I turned pretty cold soon after my first spears came up and has been quite cool ever since. Whether that is the cause or not I don't know, but in the last 19 days I've only had a few more spears come up. I have about 50 crowns yet I've only had about 15 of them send up spears, and mostly just one per plant- usually by now I'm getting lots of spears from each crown. Anyway, I just found it interesting and wondered if others are having similar experiences. What is especially strange about it is that most of my fruit trees are way AHEAD of schedule. But asparagus are late, after starting on time. Makes no sense....mother nature is a fickle lady.


#7

Could be weather, groundhogs, or they died. Time will tell.


#8

I have a second year bed so no real experience but mine did the same. A few spears here and there and then we got a light freeze. Now they are up big and plentiful. It has been a strange year.


#9

It's been way too cold here in so Il for much of anything. We hit lows at about 29 degrees this weekend. The high Saturday was only 45, and we keep getting far too much rain. I've picked a couple meals for ourselves the last two weekends, but the spears were pretty small and very unimpressive. I have no doubt your plants are fine and will produce well when temps get to where they're supposed to be. Some varieties are earlier, and I think it also matters how deeply the crowns were planted. Fruit trees are flowering, and the currants, blueberries, and gooseberries are just starting. I'm not too worried about freezing from the cold temps, but I fear a lack of pollinators will mean a sparse fruit year like last year.


#10

I don't grow asparagus myself but I love to eat it. I just ate way too much of it off the grill yesterday. When I pee'd an hour later it was a real eye opener to say the least. lol


#11

Ask and ye shall receive. We had a warm weekend here and like magic, my asparagus are popping up everywhere! What a welcomed sight. Everyone (that mean you too, @speedster1) should grow asparagus. It is absolutely the lowest maintenance thing you can grow (unless you grow it by the acre like @Chikn used to!). Granted, it takes 3 years to get really good spears, but all you have to do is burry the crowns, cover with dirt, and put down a little mulch over the whole thing once or twice a year. As for weeds, I actually just spray round-up right on top of my whole bed in spring after weeds start growing but before spears pop up. This leaves a clean, weed free bed for almost the whole harvest season, and by the time the weeds start getting big again its time to stop picking, and the asparagus ferns actually pretty much out-compete and shade the weeds. Plus, the woody stocks of the mature ferns can take a decent amount of round up without harm (a little like small trees) so I sometimes apply round-up slowly and somewhat carefully to the areas between the ferns where weeds are once or twice more in the summer. I know that may be too much non-organic sprays for some of you and I respect that...but for me its a simple way to maintain my large bed. But again, I think you could get by with nothing but adding some much occasionally and maybe pulling the worst of the weeds a time or two per summer.

Another major reason I advocate asparagus is that they are far, far and away the first thing I get to eat out of my garden each year. There is something really fun about getting to eat something so incredible from my garden in March and April. And without all the work of trying to grow indoors or protect from frost. Just plant, wait, and enjoy.

Today for lunch I had oven grilled asparagus with butter and grated parmesan cheese, all with a couple farm fresh eggs cooked enough to get the whites done but leave the yellow runny enough that it mixes with the butter and parm cheese and coats the spears like a sauce. Took 5 minutes and tastes like it came from the finest restaurant on earth. Sometimes simple really is better!


#12

Be real careful w/Roundup on mature spears. Experience.:frowning:


#13

I guess I've just been lucky, but I've found them to tolerate a small amount of it....at least more than tender plants like tomatoes, watermelons, etc. Just to be clear, did it kill them or affect them in some other way? I do have a couple spears that seem abnormal (ie really thick and compact and more tough and bitter than usual) and I've wondered if it might be from spray. So I'd love to hear whether it deformed yours or killed them outright? Thanks, Phil.


#14

Dead, We picked the field clean including everything down to 1", drug it with a Fuerst harrow on the aggressive cut 3x and sprayed at 3/4 rate Roundup and Prowl. About 20% regrowth and most didn't survive the winter. Didn't do that again. If you have any doubts, roundup kills green plants, I'm a believer.


#15

We grew just a few acres and weed control was a big problem. We never were able to get them under control.

Just have about 100 foot row, so we have time to enjoy it.

This year we limed heavy in the fall and planted rye heavy over the row. In the spring long before the asparagus pushed through we killed the rye with roundup and fertilized. The asparagus seems much sweeter this year. No weeds now, just a nice mat of dead rye. Not sure which weeds are suppressed by the rye, so its going to be interesting to see how the weeds respond around July/August


#16

That is extremely interesting, Rick! I don't think I planted my crowns deep enough to sew over them, but then again they might be. Either way, I love that plan and as you said, it will be interesting to see what it looks like later this summer.


#17

You just throw the rye on the top of the ground in early fall. No need to cover it up. If you get a lot of rain in the fall it will grow like crazy. Be sure to kill it before it goes to seed or its hard to get rid of like a weed. Prevents soil erosion and adds a lot of organic matter to the soil. I don't believe it competes with the asparagus for water or nutrients, because the asparagus is about finished growing before the rye gets thick. Its normally mowed or tilled into the soil as a cover crop, but just spraying it with roundup seems to be working well so far.


#18

I agree! Everyone should grow asparagus!


#19

The issue with the rye straw may be curved spears from rubbing on straw. Hope it works well for you. Keep us in the loop because better weed control in asp. is always helpful, especially w/o chemicals.


#20

So it grows like a perennial flower like tulips or daffodils? The shoots just pop up every year and you snip them off then the next year they return?