Asparagus is one veggie that is worthwhile investing your time in to grow. Quite literally it will take two years to get your crop but once it starts, they will crop for 15 years or more. It is a fantastic way to keep a steady supply for the Kiwi classics - Asparagus Rolls or Asparagus Soup.
When and where to plant
In Canterbury you can plant August to September onwards when the soil temperatures are rising. Choose a warm sunny site that is weed free and slightly sheltered from strong winds if possible.
- Add plenty of Intelligro Organic Compost to your soil and mix in some sheep pellets to condition your soil.
- Dig a trench that is 20 cm wide and 20 cm deep.
- Plant along one side with a 20cm gap between crowns, make sure the roots and the crowns are facing down.
- On the opposite side of the trench, plant at 20cm intervals but staggering them to create a zig zag effect.
- Space rows 50cm apart.
- Cover with about 5cm only. Backfill trench with soil as the shoots grow until it is full and level by the next winter. This allows the crowns to get away to a good start.
- Cover once full, with a loose mulch such as compost or bark mulch.
- As the plant grows it will develop leafy fronds that help the plant grow. They die down in winter and reappear in spring. Cut those off and remove once they have died down.
- It will grow small spears in the first year, either cut off or cover them with soil or compost to rot down so the plant doesn’t direct its energy into producing them.
- Give the plant a good fertilise with some Nitrophoska in spring.
- You can harvest your asparagus after the second season, as the plant needs to mature and establish itself.
- Cut off the asparagus spears at ground level with a sharp knife, don’t be tempted to rip them out as this can damage the crown.
- The fresher the better, but asparagus will store in the fridge for several days.