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Botanical name

Asparagus officinalis

Plant Care

Categories

Common name(s)

Asparagus

Origin

Drought tolerance

High

Planting instructions

Before planting crowns, prepare beds or trenches by digging over the soil to one spade depth, and adding lots of compost, well-rotted manure and general fertilizer at recommended quantities. Plant crowns 150–200mm deep and 500mm apart in the row.

Maintenance

Do not cover new shoots. Water and fertilize regularly throughout Summer to encourage strong growth. Cut foliage down to ground level during winter. Apply general fertilizer in late Winter.

Soil conditions

Well dug and richly composted

Uses

Use this plant as companion plant for tomatoes, which repel the asparagus beetle, while asparagus may repel some harmful root nematodes that affect tomato plants.
Medicinal – Asparagus is cleansing, it acts directly on the liver, kidneys and bowls, flushing out toxins.

Interesting planting ideas

Select the best-developed crowns from these year-old plants to grow on in their permanent bed and remove the rest.
Plant near beans, cabbages, carrots, chervil, parsley and tomatoes.

Interesting info

For white asparagus, cover rows with soil to form a mound (±150mm high) over the crowns and keep mounding soil around the spears as they grow. This process, called etiolation, deprives the plant of light, so it cannot produce chlorophyll and remains white or light-coloured.

Common pests and diseases

Cutworms, asparagus beetles, slugs, snails and rust.(A useful companion plant for tomatoes, which repel the asparagus beetle, while asparagus may repel some harmful root nematodes that affect tomato plants.)

Harvest

For white asparagus, harvest spears from three-year-old crowns as soon as the tips appear. Cut by pushing a sharp knife through the soil to sever the spear ±150mm below ground. Cut green asparagus spears 150–200mm above ground level, before the tips open. Do not cut spears after the end of October or you will deplete the plant for next year’s growth.

Yield

Twenty plants should be enough to provide for a family of four.

When to sow

Seed sowing instructions

Sow seed 100–150mm apart in a seedbed during spring. Seeds germinate slowly, but seedlings develop quickly once they emerge. Seedlings should be about 12 months old to develop a crown.

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