What Is the Best Way to Harvest Asparagus?

| 7/30/2008 12:00:00 AM

Tags: asparagus, weeds,

We moved to an old property with a 12-by-6-foot patch of asparagus that is overrun with weeds. Should I dig up the patch and replant it? What’s the best way to harvest asparagus?

Instead of trying to dig and move your patch, concentrate on reclaiming what’s there. Asparagus persists for decades, and the amount of work it will take to rejuvenate your plot is nothing compared to digging it up. Asparagus can outcompete weeds, but your spears will be bigger and more numerous if you limit weeds and fertilize the patch twice a year, once in late spring and again in early winter.

Begin by doing some serious weeding. Every time there is a drenching rain, go out and pull some weeds. Take pruning shears with you in drier weather and nip out the big weeds at the soil line. By fall you should see real progress. In early winter, after the fronds have been killed back by a hard freeze, clip them off and gather them up along with any weeds. Then blanket the bed with 2 to 3 inches of good compost or composted manure, topped off with some weed-free straw or chopped leaves.

In spring, as soon as you begin to see spears poking up through the mulch, make daily treks to your asparagus patch and gather up every spear. For the next six to eight weeks, gather spears at least every other day, regardless of whether they are 4, 6 or even 9 inches long. Stop harvesting when the largest of the spears is less than a half inch in diameter. When the harvest season ends, feed the patch a second time with a balanced organic fertilizer.

— Barbara Pleasant , contributing editor

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