Asparagus is one of the few perennial vegetables that will come back year after year with little help from you. The list of true perennials is short: almost rhubarb and asparagus; sometimes artichokes and sorrel come back. While the return of asparagus after a harsh winter is How to Transplant Asparagus, this growing habit also means that you will sometimes need to move asparagus from its original planting bed to a new location in the garden. Learn more about how and when to transplant asparagus to have spring spears on your plate for years to come.
Asparagus can be grown in most temperate regions, but grows more vigorously in cooler regions with longer winters. The edible parts of the asparagus plant are the young shoots that emerge in spring when soil temperatures rise above 10°C.
The most important thing about asparagus is that you really shouldn’t be harvesting it in the first few seasons. These plants need to be able to establish themselves before they can be harvested sustainably. But patience is worth it, as asparagus beds can produce for 15, 20, and sometimes up to 30 years.
Because asparagus can remain productive for a long time, it’s important to grow the best variety for your area. (See recommended varieties below.)
When you first start growing asparagus, we grow 5 to 10 plants each (15 to 30 foot rows).
When to Transplant Asparagus
Spring asparagus enters a period of rapid growth. During this time, plants can regenerate better and repair damage caused by digging and transplanting. The exact time will depend on your climate and weather, but early spring, when you can work the soil, is the right time to start transplanting.
Plant asparagus crowns in early spring, once the soil is ready for cultivation. Many gardeners plant the potatoes around the same time they are in the soil.
Asparagus is usually grown from a year-old called a “crown,” but it can also be grown from seed. However, starting with asparagus crowns eliminates the tedious weeding year that comes with starting from seed and speeds up overall production.
Some strains, like the open-pollinated “Purple Passion” and the hybrid “Sweet Purple,” can be grown from seed. Start seeds indoors in the spring and release when the seedlings are 12 to 14 weeks old, just after your last spring frost:
- Soak seeds in water for up to 24 hours before planting.
- Sow seeds in moist peat, or in flats or peat cups.
- Once the plants reach a height of 12 inches, harden them outdoors for a week.
- Transplant seedlings to makeshift garden beds after the last spring frost. Once they mature in the fall, identify male asparagus plants without berries and transplant them to your permanent planting site, removing the lower-yielding females.
Why transplant asparagus?
Asparagus plants are long-lived and vigorous. Mature asparagus plants will grow stems up to eight weeks in a few weeks. During this time, a healthy plant should have about 20 rhizomes. When growing asparagus plants in a sunny location that is well-drained, properly watered, and nutrient-dense, the plants will multiply and become overcrowded over time. Some of the main reasons to transplant asparagus are:
Crowding: If you have seen a decrease in harvest rather than an increase in past growing seasons, the plant may be overcrowded, reducing vigor1.
The Right Location: The first garden plot you choose isn’t always the best. Because asparagus live so long, sites that were fine a few years ago sometimes lose their viability. For example, a young tree matures and casts shade that didn’t exist before, or a new garden shed or other structure shades the bed. Look for a sweet spot with loose soil, full sun, and no competition from other plants.
Crop Sharing: If you have friends who are gardening crops, chances are you’re already sharing seeds, canopies, and pitch (and tons of gardening stories). The factory benefited from the split. So if you don’t have enough room to grow more asparagus, give up the asparagus.
>> See more: grow strawberries
Selection and preparation of planting sites
Because asparagus is a perennial that returns in the same place year after year, it’s important to choose a suitable planting site so it will thrive.
Choose a sunny location:
- Place asparagus beds at the edge of the garden where they will not be disturbed by planting and replanting activities in other areas.
- Make sure the bed has good drainage and no pool water. Asparagus doesn’t like it when its roots are too wet. If you don’t have a well-drained site, consider growing asparagus in raised beds.
- Learn how to build a loft bed here.
- Asparagus thrives in neutral to slightly acidic soil (pH about 6.5).
- Remove all weeds from the planting site, dig it out, and work in 2 to 4 inches of compost, aged manure, or soil mix. (Learn more about soil conditioners and preparing soil for planting.)
The soil should be loose to a depth of 12 to 15 inches to allow the asparagus crowns to root properly without being disturbed by rocks or other obstructions.
How to Transplant Asparagus
Plant the canopies deep to protect them from the cultivation needed for annual weed control.
Dig a trench about 12 to 18 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches deep. If digging multiple trenches, space the trenches at least 3 feet apart.
Soak the canopy briefly in warm water before planting.
Make a 2-inch high mound in the center of the trench and place the asparagus crowns on top of the mound, spreading their roots evenly.
Space the asparagus crowns in the furrows 12 to 18 inches apart (measured from tip to tip).
Once at this point, you can follow one of two planting methods: the traditional “one at a time” method or the simpler “all at once” method.
Asparagus splitting process
Identify your asparagus crown, showing where to subdivide. Multiple white spears may appear per corolla. The roots can be very tangled, and you can pull them apart by hand as much as you can before using a sharp garden knife to separate them. If the roots are overly tangled and overgrown, you can reduce the root mass to make transplanting easier How to Transplant Asparagus.
Transplant your asparagus
In your prepared trench, make a mound of soil mixed with compost. Arrange the mounds so that each asparagus plant is about 18 inches apart. The top of the canopy should be about an inch below the soil surface. Spread the roots of the plant over the mound, making sure the emerging stems are facing up. Cover the crown with soil and compost mixture until the trench is filled. Cover the soil surface with three inches of mulch. Mulching prevents weed seeds from germinating and retains moisture for the newly planted canopy.
Caring for Newly Transplanted Asparagus Plants
Treat freshly divided and transplanted asparagus as you would a brand new plant. The asparagus beds should be moist, but not soggy. After the soil has stabilized, fertilize the plants with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer. Apply one pound of granular fertilizer per 100 square feet. Keep asparagus beds weed-free by plowing gently around the plants. Skip the first season harvest for new beds to help plants develop energy that will give your garden many productive years.
How to Harvest Asparagus
Do not harvest during the first few seasons (see information above).
If you have young plants, the season can last 2 to 3 weeks. However, mature plants have longer production times – up to 8 weeks.
Check your plants every other day for spears ready for harvest. The spear grows fast and can become too woody very quickly! Once the spears of asparagus start to open up and grow leaves, it’s hard to eat.
Harvest spears when they are 8 to 10 inches tall and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. (Remember that younger, thinner stems are more tender, so harvest to your liking.)
To harvest asparagus, simply cut the stems off the ground with a sharp knife or scissors.
Stop harvesting spears when their diameter has decreased to the size of a pencil.
Fertilize after harvesting asparagus in early summer. You can supplement with a balanced organic fertilizer, or sprinkle an additional inch of rich weed-free compost over the rotted mulch.
Don’t prune leftover ferns in summer or you’ll ruin your asparagus bed. Allow the ferns to grow to maturity; this will supplement next year’s spear production. Always leave at least two to three stakes on the plant during the growing season.
Only prune asparagus ferns after the leaves have died and turned brown or yellow. This usually occurs in early winter after several severe frosts. Cut the fern back to the ground.
Fertilize the bed by covering 3 inches of straw, rotted sawdust, or other weed-free mulch with 1 inch of weed-free compost or manure. Clean stems go through the mulch in the spring.
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