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Author Topic: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice  (Read 3227 times)

Piggerswiggers

  • Joined Jul 2015
Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« on: August 22, 2016, 12:08:03 pm »
In order to save some cash I decided to enlarge my asparagus bed by growing from seed rather than buying crowns. The plants have done well over Summer and I've potted on twice to get the roots as strong as poss. I plan to plant in the Spring but can't find any advice on how to keep them happy until then. Can anyone help?

devonlady

  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 02:31:01 pm »
Do you have a frame? I reared mine in one and they were lovely plants.

Piggerswiggers

  • Joined Jul 2015
Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2016, 05:53:51 am »
At the moment they're in the polytunnel where I intend them to stay until Spring unless advised otherwise.

devonlady

  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2016, 01:15:14 pm »
I'm sure they would do as well in there as in a frame.

ellied

  • Joined Sep 2010
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Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2016, 06:41:15 pm »
Mine are in the greenhouse (unheated) and doing fine
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Piggerswiggers

  • Joined Jul 2015
Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2016, 10:22:39 pm »
Do you think I should trim off the ferns when they start to die back like you do for the established plants?

cloddopper

  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2016, 03:35:42 pm »
In order to save some cash I decided to enlarge my asparagus bed by growing from seed rather than buying crowns. The plants have done well over Summer and I've potted on twice to get the roots as strong as poss. I plan to plant in the Spring but can't find any advice on how to keep them happy until then. Can anyone help?

 If you remove any of the plants that have formed berries you'll end up with male plants . These are about 14 % better spear producers as the plants don't use energy to produce berries .

 Leave the male plants to form the ferns as this is what builds the plants for the next year.
In autumn when the feathers start to drop off & the stems turn yellowish cut the ferns back to 3 to 5 cm above th ground this will allow the tubers to fill naturally with " stores "to see them over winter .

Come the beginning of March use a fork to carefully dig them up . Put them in a box of damp peat some where cool and then get to work on remaking your asparagus bed
 
Putting some well seasoned pig & chicken muck plus their straw bedding and a lot of sharp sand to give good nourishment and good drainage. Dig the area a good 15 inches or deeper to really get the drainage good as asparagus rots quickly if it has continualy wet feet .

At the outset before you lift any crown , check with a simple soil test kit that the soil is not acidic , if is acidic  use garden lime whe you forst start preparing the bed to drop it to almost pH neutral
  When it's mid April  dig a foot wide trench  so you can accommodate you plants at a metre apart in all directions  the trench ought to be 8 inches deep with a 3 inch ridge along the center line .

 Remove the crowns from the peat , immerse the crowns  in a bucket of rainwater for 24 hours to ensure the are fully re -hydrated & ready for planting  .

 Spread the crowns out over this ridge so most of the long tuberous roots go over both sides of the ridge .... take care I've seen people plant their crowns upside down & their .. the crowns  died

 So look carefully for new emerging shoot buds ..the tips of the buds face skywards when you pant the crown out .

 Now when you're happy you've have laid them out , carefully cover with sieved soil taking care not to  disturb the position of the crowns , finally putting a ridge on the row along the centre line .

 The next year you may not get a bumper crop , so only take one of two spears as taking too many will stunt the plants big time  .
Come every autumn  mulch with a good thick blanket of home made compost some 70 mm deep o. using  well made home made compost that has a bit of pig , chicken , goat or rabbit poop plus beddings in it as this is non  acidic and full of goodness for the asparagus.
Several components of these differing dung based products are fantastic for making you compost heap along with all the non poisonous greenery out your garden & mulched non poisonous hedge cutting from most hedges .

 I've harped on about , " Good homemade composts" .  I thoroughly recommend you look up " The Berkley 18 day hot composting method " and use it right away to start getting a stock of real quality compost ready for when you need it .

 Over the years I've used all manner of commercial stuff ...of latre a lot of it has had way to much un composted wood products &, long tern active hormonal weed killers such as grazon 90 etc.  I wish I had a tenner for each crop I've wrecked using this commercial big store rubbish .

 If you want to be ultra sure you compost is fit for purpose .. sow a few radish & 24 hour water soaked peas seeds in a few inches of you home made compost  that is in a small tray in a polythene bag.. put it in the airing cupboard ..... if it's good they will germinate in a 4 to 8 days or so  and start to grow ... if it's rubbish they won't .


 At the start of March a fortnight  before you sprinkle the salt on  , give the beds a light dressing of all purpose general fertilizer granules  to be absolutely sure your asparagus receive enough N , P, K  nutrients for a large crop , your home made compost gives lots of fibre in various states of usefull decay to the beds for air & water take up & to supply the vital trace elements that are missing from the artificial fertilizer granules .
 
In spring in mid March  before the asparagus emerges , a very light  sprinkle of common cooking salt over the asparagus beds  helps keep weeds at bay and does not appear to upset the asparagus production ( it will kill most of your other seed beds & crops though )

Due to my beds being 900 mm high at the walled sides they suffer  the effects of strong winds , so  I've used 120 mm long lengths of white plastic 20 mm electrical conduit tube  as stakes to support the asparagus ferns till I cut them  back.  Using some of the new 10 mm wide velcro plant strapping stuff  to gently hold each crowns growth to the stakes .

A final note .
 Potting up into new pots each year for a couple of years will actually hold the plants back ...... surprisingly .
 Three year old crowns taken from the place they've been growing for 3 year when sown from seed or as guaranteed male " Mirestem " cuttings s  is how it is usually done .
Then when you transplant the 3 yr old crowns you have to wait  till mid April to mid June the next year before you can start to take off a few spears .

By the time the plants are six years old they should be in full reduction and if you tend the beds well they can remain in full production for over 20 years  , each plant giving up about 20 to 28 spears .

 There is also a late planting put slot/ period being mentioned by commercial growers  but at the minute I can't for the life of me remember when it is
« Last Edit: August 24, 2016, 03:49:02 pm by cloddopper »
Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting

Piggerswiggers

  • Joined Jul 2015
Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2016, 12:03:01 pm »
Cloddopper thank you! This is an excellent and really comprehensive guide, thanks so much for taking the trouble. I'll follow your advice and update on here if anyone else is interested.

cloddopper

  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Growing asparagus from seed - any advice
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2016, 10:48:26 pm »
For all your crop growing there are a set of books  by DG HESSAYAN  , the Vegetable expert is just one of them .  They cost about 13 inc P&P and are worth their weight in gold .
 I've been using hem for 30 or more years , getting a new version every four or five years to see what the latest varieties of seeds etc to look for & current pest controls as these have changed drastically over time.

 They tell you absolutely everything you need to grow each crop and give you a picture to scale of what the seeds look like , as well as a sow & harvesting chart plus lots of other info .
Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting

 
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