Asparagus for beginners?

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Chants Cottage
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Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253567 Chants Cottage
Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:07 am

Hello all

I'm just in the process of sorting out a vegetable garden from (very) scratch, and it's fair to say I am a bit of a novice. I would really like to get an asparagus bed going. As I know I'm going to leave them for a long time I want to give myself the best chance for a harvest I can so I would be really grateful for any advice on how best to go about this. I'm not totally averse to planting seeds rather than crowns, I'd prefer to go with the most reliable method really, although I realise I will have to wait longer for my loverly sparrer grass if I did plant seeds. My questions are then:

1 - Seeds or crowns?
2 - Wilkinson mystery crowns or expensive posh crowns (has anyone tried the Wilko ones)? A mixture?!
3 - How much asparagus spears does a crown yield? (I know this may be not very easy to answer - I just want to get an idea of how many crowns I would need, or how many seeds to sew. I'd rather have too much than not enough cos I'm sure I'll be able to give some away!!).
4 - When would I sow the seed if that's the way to go...?

Thank you very much in advance!

Sarah x

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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253569 demi
Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:29 am

im planning on growing asparagus from seed this year too, but i also have never grown it before.
im interested to read the advice.

have you tried looking on youtube? there are usually loads of videos with people explaining what to do.

sorry i dont have any first hand experiance to give you.
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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253593 Chants Cottage
Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:10 pm

Crikey. I suppose that's my fear, that you invest so much time and for.... nothing. But then I suppose that's part of growing stuff, that the success you have is so much sweeter because of the risk that it might not work... but with most things you don't have to wait three or four years to realise something hasn't worked. Maybe I'll go for a combination of seeds and crowns. I'll definitely be planting some one way or another. And I'll be watching out for pesky shrews...

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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253600 Zech
Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:36 pm

I haven't yet managed to get an asparagus bed established, but only because I moved house just as my first attempt was getting there. I read a lot of advice on how to do it, much of it conflicting, and came to the conclusion that asparagus will cope with most conditions, though possibly not shrews. One tip that I did take notice of was to feed the soil well before you start, as you won't be digging any more compost into it once you have the asparagus in there. I even heard that you should bury a dead donkey under a new asparagus bed, but I didn't have one to hand :lol:

I planted crowns the first time, then collected seeds from one of those plants for my second attempt. As far as I know, the only difference is the extra year that seeds will take to get established - two years from planting to first harvest for crowns and three for seeds. I sowed my seeds in [consults records] mid March last year and they came up at the end of April. I adore the stuff so I planted lots (that's what my notes say - sorry, not very specific). I was aiming for at least 25 plants - I'm not sure how many I'll end up with.

I think the number of spears you get per plant depends not only on the age and health of the plant, but also on how efficiently you harvest them. If you let them grow, the plant doesn't bother putting up lots more shoots.
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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253608 oldjerry
Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:33 pm

I've put togther two good asparagus beds in my life,and a couple more working for other people I can make a couple of suggestions.
If you're not going to stick with it for 5 or 6 years,I would'nt bother. It takes time,good things do.
I would always plant crowns,and good stuff,spend some cash.Grow from seed if you want,but do that AFTER you've got a decent bed and you want to have a play.
Double dig your bed,and (by whatever means does it for you) and remove EVERY VESTIGE of perrenial weed.
Add shed loads of compost,FYM whatever you've got.
Dont be greedy when harvesting in the early years.
My old man would put a load of salt on the bed,I modified this idea by topdressing with seaweed.
If you manage to get a good bed established,beam with pride,show it off whenever possible,be very smug.

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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253616 Chants Cottage
Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:58 am

Darn it, fresh out of dead donkeys. I'm perfectly happy to devote time and space and just want to give myself the best chance at actually establishing the bed properly! I will get myself some nice posh crowns. I had also thought about seaweed (as you do). We've mulched and manured the beds the asparagus will go already but hopefully we'll wangle a seaside trip this week, being half term and all and I shall go armed with a bin liner or two. I'll let you know how I get on in five or six years... Thanks everyone.

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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253629 Millymollymandy
Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:18 pm

I grew from seed. I planted the berries late autumn 2010 and left them in the cold frame, and up they came the following spring. Of course each berry contains loads of seeds :iconbiggrin: so I had a lot of pricking out to do (and hundreds of the damn things to give away).

Last autumn I planted them out into my new asparagus bed and they've continued to throw up new spears now and again thru autumn and winter :dontknow: - I may have lost one or two which were a bit pathetic and some had really good roots and others didn't, but I planted about (can't remember, it's on this forum somewhere) um 16? maybe more. What I didn't do, and there is NO advice on the internet about this, is take all the soil off the roots and spread them out over a ridge like you are supposed to do with crowns. I just bunged them like you would any plant that is in a pot.

From what I understand I have to keep heaping compost/soil on top the first year to bring the level up another so many inches.

It's getting well fertilised with cat poo :roll: and the red squirrels have buried god knows how many walnuts in there, which will all be germinating in the spring...... :roll: :mrgreen:

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens, anyway I 'should' only have 2 more years to go. We'll see!
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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #253639 Peggy Sue
Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:40 pm

I've been playing this game too over the last few years, first I bought 3 wilko/similar cheap crown and planted them in a barrel, two survived and the others give not enough shoots for a meal, so 2 or 3 at a time.... so I planted some seeds in spring, waited forever then gave up watering them thinking they hadn't germinated, let them get completely dry and frazzled (not got round to throwing them ) and suddenly they all came up- so if you do sew seeds be patient but don't panic if they get dry!
Pretty much all those seed survived bar one or two just bungign them in the well manured patch. They are really tough, will handle dry weather no problem. I've done another lot and put them in the garden, horrible clay soil there so in theory they should be dead but they are all fine! I'm so impressed with how tough and esy they are.... haven't quite got to the eating stage yet, this spring....

No dead donkies involves or salt, I do hear the longer you leave them to get established the bigger, thicker and more plentiful the shoots. I also hear they don't compete well with weeds :( my downfall perhaps :lol:
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Re: Asparagus for beginners?

Post: #254557 chadspad
Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:52 pm

Ive planted about 30 crowns now over a 3 year period and the results so far are still pathetic. I have found some of the roots have gone rotten underground tho and someone has mentioned on here about shrews, which we have millions of!, so perhaps I should check if theyre still there and in tact. Seems hard work but when asparagus is sooooo expensive in the shops its definitely worth the effort!
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