Growing guide for Asparagus

PLANTING
Asparagus need water retentive soil.
If your soil drains quickly it is best to make a raised bed with plenty of organic well rotted manure/compost.
They also like full sun, but need a wind free spot as the tall fronds can get blown over in strong winds.
The traditional time for planting is spring, but can be planted anytime from about January to April.
It is best to dig over the planting area a couple of times to break up the soil before planting.
Remove all weeds and add organic matter a couple of days before planting the crown.
Shallower planted crowns produce more than deeper planting.
Soak the tuber for about 20 minutes whilst you prepare the planting hole.
To plant you need to dig a hole. Form a mound in the centre of the hole with compost/soil.
Drape the crown with its roots spread around the mound in the hold.
Fill in the rest of the hole with soil/compost.
They are best planted to a depth of about 12cm (5inch) deep.

CARE
As the plant grows it is important to keep the area weed free.
It is important to let one spear to grow to full size, as this one will feed the rest of the plant for the rest of the growing season.
To get a good crop the plants need regular watering as they donít like to dry out.
A tip is to mulch round the plant to conserve water.
As the stalks appear from the ground it must be earthed up to leave just the tip showing above the ground.

HARVESTING
Wait until the plants have been in the ground for 2 years after planting before harvesting can start.
This allows the plants to establish well.
The season is short and in a good season can be harvested twice a day.
Each spear needs to be harvested just as you can see the tip starting to show signs of opening.
Once they have opened it is to late to harvest.
They are best when 15cm (6in) tall.
With being earthed up they need to be cut below soil level as all you will see above soil is the tip.
This does take a while to get used to but well worth it for the fresh flavour.
End cutting in mid June to allow the plants to grow and build up energy for the following years growth.

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