I’m excited to be expanding my asparagus bed this year. It’s such a delicious crop and one of those vegetables that’s way better picked and eaten fresh from a home vegetable garden than from a grocery store.
I’m planning to dedicate one of my oversized raised beds to asparagus. The bed is 6 x 16-feet. I’ve read that between five and 20 plants are the right amount to grow per person, depending on how much you want to eat. We’re just a family of two now (my dogs LOVE asparagus but they are happy to eat the ends of the spears) and until now, I’ve had six plants. Not enough. We only got four or five small meals a year from that.
I am looking forward to many big servings of asparagus, and some to share. I know it will be a couple years until I can fully harvest the bed, but I look forward to that year.
How far apart to space asparagus roots: Conventional planting instructions for asparagus (e.g. University of New Hampshire’s extension service) suggest planting asparagus roots 18 inches apart in rows 5 feet apart. That means I’d end up with one row of ten or 11 plants. Using biointensive gardening methods, one can tighten this spacing considerably. Biointensive gardening is pretty much what home gardeners do by using raised beds, deeply dug soil, companion planting, and organic fertilizers and pest controls. Kansas State’s Master Gardener program suggests 12 to 18 inches is adequate for spacing on all sides of the plant. By using staggered planting and 12 inch spacing I could get 60 plants in my bed! Wow. I’m planning to give the plants 18 inches of space and leave room at the front and back of the bed to put in other crops. In the diagram here, I can plant 32 asparagus plants this way. That sounds the like the right amount for me.
And as for the crops I could plant next to the asparagus, I could consider some traditional asparagus companions. Nightshades, like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are said to be particularly good asparagus companions as their leaves repel asparagus beetles while the roots of the asparagus plants repel root-knot nematodes that attack nightshade roots. Pretty good! Basil and parsley are also said to deter asparagus beetles. Cilantro, dill, and marigolds are also good at repelling pests. It sounds like I could have a very pretty and very productive bed.
I have 25 asparagus roots on order from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They’ll be sent to me this spring when it’s time to plant them.
A few years ago I tried growing asparagus from seed. It sprouts easily and grows fast into little shoots. But I found that they are very hard to weed once they are planted out in the garden because they are so tiny. I ended up pulling up all of mine. SO I’m giving up on that for now and bought roots.
This is how I planted asparagus last time I ordered roots in the mail. I’m told you can just did a trench and throw the roots in but I like spreading out the roots.