Asparagus Classification:

There are two general types of asparagus grown in home gardens.  Traditional
"Washington" varieties, such as "Mary Washington", have both male and female plants.
 The female plants will produce seed.  When you purchase the Washington varieties,
you will usually receive roughly equal quantities of male and female plants.  Newer
"Jersey" varieties produce only male plants.  The seeding process takes a lot of energy
out of the plants.  The Jersey varieties are supposed to out-produce the Washington
varieties by up to 3 to 1.  The Washington varieties have the problem, and benefit, of
producing seedlings around the established plants. The seedling must be transplanted,
or weeded out, or they will crowd out the established plants.

Planting Asparagus:

Asparagus prefer well drained soil in full sun light.  The root can rot if planted in low,
undrained soil.  Asparagus grow from a crown type of root system.  Shoots will sprout
from the same crown, below ground level, each year.  With a little care the crowns can
easily produce shoots for 15 to 20 years, or longer.  Within 5 to 6 years, the roots can
grow 10 feet or deeper, and have a 6 to 8 foot spread.  This makes it difficult to
transplant established plants.  It is best to purchase 1 or 2 year old crowns and plant as
directed by the supplier.

Asparagus crowns should be planted in the spring.  Soon afterwards, thin shoots will
pop up.  Do not harvest any shoots the first year.  These thin shoots will fern out and
collect the suns energy through photosynthesis.  As the roots get more energy, they will
shoot more thin sprouts.  The first years growth will only grow about 2 feet tall.  

You should cut down the dead, year old, ferns in early spring.  During the second year,
the crowns should produce much thicker shoots.  During the second year, large
diameter shoots may be selectively harvested for a week or two.  Then let the shoots
fern out to produce energy for the next years harvest.  The roots are running out of
stored energy when the shoots become thinner in diameter.  You should always stop
harvesting when the shoots become thinner.  

Cut down the dead, year old, ferns each spring.  You should be able to harvest
asparagus for 2 to 4 weeks the third year, and 4 to 8 weeks the fourth year and
beyond.   Established asparagus plants will grow  4 to 6 feet tall.

Well established asparagus plants can be harvested for up to 2 months.  Some people
will harvest half of their plants in the spring and let the other half fern out.  Then about
mid July, the harvested plants are allowed to fern out.  About the same time, the plants
that were allowed to fern out in the spring are cut down.  These plants will then produce
new shoots that can be harvested for the second half of the summer.  

Caring for Asparagus:

Once established, asparagus require little care other than weeding, and inspecting for
bugs or disease.  The asparagus beetle and their larva are a common pest of the
asparagus ferns.  Weeds and asparagus seedlings must be removed or they will crowd
out the established plants.  Mulch helps to keep down weeds and hold in moisture.  
Young plants need watering during dry spells.  
Site Disclaimer:

This page was developed to share my gardening and landscaping experience with
others.  The site contains only general information on different plants.  I do not
guarantee all information to be accurate.  I do not accept any responsibility for
anyone's growing success.  Please consult with your plant or seed supplier for detailed
planting instructions.
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