Asparagus Says It's Spring


I have read both sets of information too but I think Chikn gave me info on it also. We cut for a couple of weeks on the plot we put in last year. The plot that went in year before last we plan to cut for another week or so (4 weeks total). The problem with that time span is that we cut for 2-3 weeks and then it really starts bearing so for the time we were cutting both plots were only sending up spears here and there. Now that we are in full blown spring there is a lot more activity. But we have eaten and eaten and now are freezing some too. In another year or two we will be giving it away I guess.



THanks! That is pretty much what I’ve done too. Chikn sure ought to know…he’s been in it BIG TIME!
My patch is just now really producing. It’s just amazing how fast those things pop up and grow. I can get 12-15 inches in a single day…it must be one of the fastest growing plants out there.
Last year I honestly cut mine too long and was really worried. As a result, when I finally stopped cutting them the ferns that they produced were all smaller and thinner than usual. I guess it all worked out ok because this years spears seem to be big and healthy, but I’m going to stop sooner than last year.
Funny thing…I actually had a few spears come up last year about 100 yards away from my house (way, way too far for any suckering or runners, had to be seeds).out in my yard. I mowed around them all year and now they, too, are sending up big nice spears. Nature is funny sometimes.

BTW…how much do you have planted? Is it just for you or do you all sell them? Thanks


In 2015 we put in a bed of about 30+ crowns. We got greedy (lol) so last year we put in a bed of 50+ crowns (you order so many and they always send you extra). We just plan to eat it but after cutting this year I’m sure we didn’t need to have that much just for us. I’ll be taking some to work for friends. I don’t think I would want to try to sell it. We have a little local market here on Saturday mornings so I might change my mind on that in the future but it all depends on how well this does.

All my crowns were supposed to be male hybrids but I’ve got a few females in the older plot that I think I will mark this year and pull them up. I’ve got small asparagus plants coming up like weeds.

Right now I’m fighting real weeds. There is some weed that has taken up residence and it sends a network of roots across the bed. I’m not really sure how the best way to get rid of it. I can pull up the plant but I can’t get all the roots and they are spreading like wildfire. Occasionally I’ll get a runner of the roots to come up and I’ll get up to two feet of root pull across the bed. On my older bed I thought about painting a few of the plants with Roundup but I’m just afraid to try it. There are already too many ferns falling around on the second bed for me to even think about trying that. In fact it’s time for me to get outside and pull weeds from the asparagus and crab grass from the onions!!!


Now you’ve hit on my biggest problem…how to control weeds!!! My patch is a square with rows that are about 3 ft apart and plants(meaning crowns originally) in the rows about 2 ft apart. I have 4 rows with about 25 plants per row, so we have similar numbers. I had a small tiller I could use between rows but its too much work and hard to do now that they have spread. I have tried to hoe weeds but…come on…too much work. I have actually used a small pump up sprayer and barely pumped it up so it would have low pressure, then I set the nozzle on a stream instead of mist, and used round-up in this way. It is slow going, and I admit I’ve killed a few asparagus, but overall it works out ok. It still takes a lot of time since I’m going slow and careful, and I have to find a non-windy day and so on. If you find a better way, I’d sure like to hear it.

My enemy weed is something we call horse tail (don’t even know the botanical name). It gets really tall, is quite resistant to round up, and therefore ends up just taking over my patch by mid summer- leaving me worried whether or not the aspar will get enough food, water, sun, etc to build up good crowns.


I’ve got mine mulched like crazy so that helps. At least the stuff is easy to pull up. Mine are in boxes and one bed is 20 x 5 and the other one is 30 x 5. The crowns are set in two rows each box. No way to get any tools between them. I had a friend that would get round up in a little container and a brush and brush it on. That’s the only way I would try it but if fern blows or falls against it then it is done…

I have goat weed, Bermuda grass, nut grass, and this whateveritis crap that I deal with. I will say the mulch helps. It’s prob 4 or more inches thick. Just pine bark.


They are weeds, tough ones too. Use round up when the asp is still dormant in the spring along with Prowl h2o. Spray that mix over the bed half a day before rain so the prowl washes into the soil. That will help w/ crabgrass and other small seeded annuals. MSU extension has a nice paper on herbicides for asp. If round up has dried, you don’t need to worry about it killing other plants, if you do hit another fern or leaf, just pull it off, you have some time before the plant will translocate roundup.
Oh yeah, you can harvest 2nd year plants for two wks. U of Ill. research showed over the life of the patch, asp harvested in the 2nd yr. produced way more than asp that was harvested starting 3rd yr.


Thanks for the info. Sure is nice to have expert advice.
Really enjoying the asp this year!


[sigh] Really missing my asparagus patch, but it died last year


Just curious, Lois- what happened to your asparagus?


Essentially, it got too wet where it was planted during the last few rainy springs, and last year it just didn’t come up. Someone here said they thought it could be fusarium wilt.

It was a good patch while it lasted, but I don’t have a better location for it.


That is too bad. I thought maybe it had just played out, but of course that wouldn’t just happen all at once like that. Sounds like you really enjoyed it so I’m sorry for your bad luck. Maybe you could try a raised bed there is water is the problem, but of course you’ve already thought about all that and know what would and wouldn’t work. Its just that as much as I enjoy mine, I hate to see a fellow asparagus lover loose their patch!


Nothing like seeing the first spears poking up, first fresh veggie of the year

Really does say it’s spring


Hmmmm… Does anyone else get a little skinny Spearow’s coming up out of what should be more mature crowns? I don’t know what to do. I planted these in the spring of 2014. I started harvesting last spring, and I am getting some good decent sized spears, but also have a number of crowns with a mix of little skinny spears as well as bigger ones. I don’t know if I should start harvesting from those crown all together or what. I haven’t harvested much at all. Maybe 2 pounds total from over a dozen crowns so far this year, and that just started maybe less than a week ago.

pic is w my alpine strawberry started from baker creek seeds but turned out to be a not yummy strawberry- sad!


I wish I could help but I would love to know that answer too. I have a plant that is sending up super, super thick spears, thicker than my thumb, while the two plants right next to it are sending up scrawny thin needles. No idea why, I just know that I could triple my patch and still not have enough asparagus!


Well I believe it is related to root vigor and how much storage went into the root after harvest ended last season. If the fronds look puny in July/Aug they are not making enough carbs for next years crop. When this happened to one of mine I stopped harvesting off that crown and did some foliar feeds over the rest of the season and now am harvesting thick stalks off that one, which, we will be enjoying tonight!
If the shoots are very thin if may be a seed from last year germinating. (These can be used to start your next bed :blush:)
The plant can get fungal problems too which inhibits carb xfer up and down the fronds. They should be green and firm all summer long for a good crop next year.


Thank you, @JustAnne4! That’s making sense. So I’ll let the skinny spears frond out and maybe feed them (I confess that I’ve heard of but never used a foliar feed!) and if there are nearby thicker spears coming up I’ll have to guess at whether they’re coming up from the same crown or whether the skinny one is its own new plant. I definitely do have females and I’ve seen volunteers outside of the bed which I’ve known were true seedlings. Hmmmm. Lots to learn and think about. I’m guessing most of my skinny spears are the crowns lacking root vigor. Some are close to a boggy spot so maybe there is a fungal issue. I also always have a lot of asparagus beetles so wonder if that indicates a lack of health, too. I’ve not used any pesticide yet. Wonder if that’d help the plants grow better. Thanks again!!


I’m befuddled about this too. My 'gus patch was started in '11 & '12 and I waited a couple years to begin taking any, and then only sparingly. So by now they’re all pretty mature and healthy. I stop harvesting when I start noticing the spears starting to be smaller, and then let them fern out until they all turn brown just ahead of winter. Then I top dress with bags of humus and leaves to kind of insulate them over the winter, and sprinkle 10-10-10 out in late March/early April.

That has seemed to work most years, but this spring I have a couple crowns that are shooting up pencil size spears, and a lot of them. I wondered if it was this odd weather we’ve had. I kinda don’t want to let them go at this early stage of the gardening season, and then have to navigate the dwarf trees that they become when left to grow.

Kind of think it’s wrong headed to cut them back, but may give in to my idiot side anyway on these couple crowns anyway, just in an attempt to make life easier this season…


We will pick our first asp this weekend, looks to be 10-20 lbs.
Our spring prep starts with spreading 10-10-10 to get about 40-60 lbs of P and K per acre. We soil test every 3 years and want P/K in the high to very high range, pH 6-6.5. Nitrogen fert. will acidify the soil. We pay close attention to sulfur levels, our soils are sulfur deficient and we see a yield drag now that no one burns coal. After the fert. goes down, we lightly till the whole bed to kill emerged weeds. If weather permits, it did this year, we sprayed roundup and prowl to kill anything the tiller missed. The prowl will help keep the small seeded weeds controlled. Harder weeds can be controlled with Karmex. Weed control is the most important part of having a long lasting, healthy bed.
Skinny spears usually mean an asp plant is under stress. Is the bed (soil)too wet? Are the plants set too shallow? Did you put triple super phosphate and potassium sulfate in your planting furrow? Is your planting depth about 4-8"? Did you mulch your asp. bed? Are you using hybrid super male asp. plants? Do you control asp. beetles? They hide in mulch and trash on the beds. Trash also blows against spears causing them to bend.
Several other things, Seedling asp. are weeds, nasty weeds. Buy Jersey Giant from Nourse, order early, dig out female plants. Jersey Knight is 25% female plants, don’t buy it. Clean off small spears and seedlings. Control asp. beetle. Clean beds don’t allow hiding spots. Small spears and seedlings provide feed and mating spots for asp. beetles. Asp. beetles spread disease and cause your spears to curl. Tall weeds can be controlled with a roundup wipe. PM me if you want to know how to do that. Harvest the second year for 2 wks. This stimulates spear development in future years, up to 30%, U of Ill. research. Harvest a mature asp. bed for 6-8 wks. Mow it tight and retreat with a preemergent.


Wow, lots of great intel in there, thanks for taking time!

I did get my stuff from Nourse, but I got Purple Passion and (…wait for it) Jersey Knight. Well, my stuff was AT LEAST 25% female, and I think probably more. I’ve been taking them out at the end of the season, and replacing with new crowns. Still is seems like no matter what I do I still find some sporting the red berries before it’s over! And yes, they are like weeds!

On the planting depth, I think mine are plenty deep - question is: If I keep adding bags of Humus to cover like 2" at end of season (year after year) is that a problem? My 'Gus bed kinda looks like a long raised bed mound sans the wood sides, but they seem to find their way up every year.

Your comment on the stress makes me wonder if I could have damaged some neighboring roots when yanking out some female crowns last year.


Jerry, All the pro growers that I know of, keep their beds clean, nothing but bare dirt and the main crop. I planted my asp at 4-6". so I got early spring production($$). It got frosted occasionally. Just drug it with a fuerst harrow and I was ready again. I think the humus is a problem. The soil never dries and the plants get diseased. Also, you are giving Asp beetle a place to hide, breed, and spread disease too.
Taking out female plants is just putting the shovel in and pulling the plant, shouldn’t hurt anything. I would caution you on putting the purple passion back in your patch. I talked to Nourse this spring and they said don’t replant for 3 years especially plants with no Fusarium resistance. The purple’s don’t have any and with the dampness from the mulch, they will quickly do what Lois’s did, get fusarium root rot.
Do you cut or snap spears? Cutting will spread disease and allow you to harvest a tough butt spear and possibly damage neighboring spears. Hand snapping is a pain in the back, but asp spears break where they are tender so you get a quality product every time.