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Asparagus Gardening

Asparagus Gardening

Asparagus Gardening, Asparagus officinalis, is a perennial vegetable crop that’s among the first ones to come to harvest with the onset of spring. It’s a flowering plant species belonging to the family Asparagaceae. It’s cultivated as a vegetable in most temperate and subtropical climates of the world for the succulent stalks that appear in spring. Asparagus is typically served cooked in stir fries, vegetable side dishes, soups, stews and salads. Besides being a good source of dietary fibers, asparagus is also rich in Vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium and zinc. It’s typically planted in early spring from roots or crowns and takes about 2 to 3 years to establish and start producing a decent harvest. However, once established, an asparagus crop can be productive for over 20 years!

Types & Varieties of Asparagus

Different Asparagus varieties exist, with distinct differences in colors, appearance and quality of spears. Asparagus plants can be either male or female. The newer cultivars are bred to be all male since the plants consume all their energies into the development of the plant instead of seed production, giving you larger and more abundant spears.

Common varieties of Asparagus:

Mary Washington – The most common asparagus variety is an heirloom and is a favorite among gardeners for the long green spears with purple tips that it produces. It’s rust-resistant and is ready for light cuttings in 2 years.

asparagus spear from 2nd year plant

Jersey GiantIt is an all-male early yielding variety that’s bred for rust and fusarium wilt resistance and is cold hardy so it will perform exceptionally well in northern climates.   

Purple Passion – As the name implies, this variety produces purple spears, but the color fades with cooking. The attractive spears are sweet in flavor ready for harvest around April to May each year.

Apollo – this is a hardy asparagus that grows well in both cold and warm climates. It’s very disease resistant and yields a large crop with medium to large dark green sized stalks with a hint of purple on the tips.

Depending on how often you consume the vegetable, plant a garden with around 5 to 20 asparagus plants for every person. Since individual plants are spaced 3 feet apart, this makes about 12 to 60 feet of row for each family member.

Temperature and Timing for growing Asparagus

Asparagus are perennial vegetables that prefer a temperature between 70 to 85°F at daytime and the nighttime temperature should be between 60 to 70°F. Asparagus crowns are usually planted in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Each year, young, tender shoots will appear in spring as soon as the soil temperature stays above 50°F in spring.

Sun Exposure and Soil Requirements

Asparagus plants grow best in full sun to develop healthy, thick spears. Without adequate sunlight, you’ll find thin, weak spears and the plants are more prone to diseases. Choose a well-drained garden bed for your garden and amend the soil with plenty of organic matter and remove weeds and stones from the area to prepare the land for a perennial vegetable that will stay in place and provide you with succulent spears for years to come.

How to Plant Asparagus

Asparagus can be grown from 1-year old crowns or seeds. Most gardeners prefer growing crowns since it gives a jump-start on the crop, eliminating some of the wait time before you can start harvesting the spears.

When growing from seeds, seeds are started indoors in early spring. Plant the seeds in a good seed starting mix filled in peat cups. Seedlings are transplanted outdoors once they are at least 12 weeks old and the last spring frost has passed.

By the fall, the plants will mature and you’ll be able to tell apart the berry-less male plants from the female ones. You can remove the female plants since they are less productive and allow more space for male ones to grow.

To plant crowns in the garden, prepare the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches, removing any hard stones or weeds that you find along the way. Amend the soil with 2 to 4 inches of compost and other organic matter.

Dig 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep trenches into the ground, spaced 3 inches apart from each other. Next, create a 2-inch tall ridge of soil along the center of the trench and place the crown over the mounds, spacing them 12 to 18 inches apart. Add about 2 inches of soil to the trench to cover 2 inches of the crown from the bottom. As the crowns grow taller, add more soil to the trench, 2 inches at a time until it reaches ground level.

Once the trench is filled with soil, add mulch to prevent weeds from taking over. During the first two years of growth, offer the crop 1 to 2 inches of water each week. Since asparagus is a heavy feeder, it will also need regular nourishment to keep up production. When asparagus gardening, top dress annually with compost before shoots start appearing in spring and fertilize with an organic fertilizer around mid spring when the growth is at its maximum.


Generally, you should wait until the third year to start harvesting the spears.

  • During the third year, only harvest a few spears for two weeks at the most and let the remaining spears develop undisturbed.
  • During the fourth year, you can harvest spears that reach 5 to 7 inches in height by cutting them with a knife just above the soil level. You can harvest for up to three weeks.
  • During the fifth year, the harvest time can extend up to six weeks.
  • Following the fifth year, you can continue harvesting the spears all through the spring, as they appear from the soil.


Asparagus spears don’t do well in storage and are best consumed fresh, within two to three days from harvest. Wash the spears with cold water and dry them before storing. Bundle the stems, wrapping them lightly with a paper towel and store them in a plastic bag before refrigerating.

Pests and Diseases


  • Asparagus beetles are a common problem with this vegetable. The insects cause spears to turn brown, ultimately defoliating the crop and diminishing harvest. Remove the beetles by hand or hose them with a strong spray of water.
  • Cutworms attack the stems of young shoots, cutting them just above the soil level. Keeping the area weed-free and removing plant debris can prevent these from finding your crop. Remove them by hand as you find them.


  • Asparagus Rust is a fungal disease that shows up as pale green spots on newly emerged shoots. By summer, they turn into reddish brown lesions and then black by fall. Severe infection can cause defoliation. Choosing resistant varieties, ensuring air circulation and preventing excessive moisture in the soil can help prevent the infection.

Follow the guide above and you’ll have fresh, crunchy spears to harvest in just a couple of years – homegrown asparagus are worth the wait!

Beet Gardening

Beet Gardening: How to Plant Grow and Harvest Beets

Beet gardening these tasty vegetable can seem like a love hate between you and the people you cook for. Beets, also known as “beetroots,” are a cool-season crop that prefers full sun. It is easy to grow from seed in well-prepared soil and can tolerate cold and near freezing conditions but does best with temperatures from 50°F to 65°F. They are a perfect option for spring and fall crops in northern zones or as a winter crop in zone 9 and higher. In addition to being a good table food, beets are used to make food coloring and are used as a medicinal plant.

Types & Varieties of Beetroot

Beets contain iron and are high in fiber, vitamins A and C. They come in a range of shades, shapes, and sizes, with deep red, yellow, white, or striped roots. Here are some widely used types of beetroot.

For beet gardening, It will take approximately 2 ounces of beet seeds to plant a 100 foot row that will yield about 80 pounds of roots

• The most widely known beets are red/purple. They have the bonus of being excellent storage veggies. Detroit Dark Red is a prime example – it has a maturity date of about 60 days.
• Chioggia beet has a similar flavor to standard purple beets but is a little sweeter. The skin is a vivid pink/fuchsia color, with pink and white streaks on the inside when cut open. About 54 days to maturity.
• Golden beets are somewhat less sweet than red beets and they still have a mellower, less earthy taste. Burpee’s Golden has a maturity of about 55 days.
• Bull’s Blood is a stunning heirloom of dark maroon-red leaves that give a pop of color to salads. It is quick to mature at about 45 days.
• Lutz Green Leaf is a large plant with tasty green leaves. Its baseball-sized, heart-shaped roots are sweet and tender and it and stores well. With their large size, these beets take a bit longer to mature at about 80 days.
It will take approximately 2 ounces of beet seeds to plant a 100 foot row that will yield about 80 pounds of roots – excluding the greens. If you are planning to “year-round” food supply, plant about 10 – 15 feet per person.

Temperature & Timing for Growing Beetroot

Since beets are adapted to grow in cool climates, they are an excellent crop to plant in the springtime or late summer. The best temperature for daytime is 60° F to 70° F, and nights between 50° F to 60° F.

Sun Exposure and Soil Requirements

Grow beets in full sunlight. They require 6 hours of direct sun every day. Soil should be well-prepared and moist for proper growth. Soil should be free of rocks and other barriers to allow the beets to grow appropriately. Beets flourish in loamy, acidic soils with pH levels ranging between 6.0 and 7.5. Mix in an inch or two of compost, whether the soil is thick clay, rough, or alkaline. You can also add a pinch of wood ash, high in potassium, and promote root growth.

How to Plant Beetroot & Their Care

beet gardening

Starting beet gardening should be done as soon as the soil is workable in early spring. Plantings can be made every 2 weeks before mid-summer. They do not do well in hot weather. The heads can get tough and fibrous. One way to judge when to stop planting in the spring is to check average temperatures in your area. When the average temperature is expected to average over 80°F, count back 60 days – that should be the last date for spring planting. For Autumn planting, start sowing seeds 10 – 11 weeks before frosts are expected.
• Seeds should be sown 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart in rows about 1 foot apart.
• Beets prefer deep, well-drained soil. Use the slightly thicker soil when planting beets in the fall to help shield them from early frost.
• To ensure maximum germination, keep the soil moist. For best results, soak seeds for 24 hours before planting. Seeds should germinate in 7 to 10 days.
• An inch of water each week is recommended for proper growth. Too much water can result in insects and pest infestations.
• Beet “seeds” are a cluster of several small seeds together. When the seedlings are 2 inches tall pull the weaker ones to allow the strongest the room it needs.
• When the seedlings are 6 inches tall, pull every other plant. You can use what you pull.
• They will be ready for harvesting in 7-8 weeks. Gently dig them out once they reached their ideal size.


You should pull beets when the soil is dry. For your beet gardening, be careful when pulling or lifting roots from the ground, if you need to use a pitchfork or shovel, do so carefully. Do not to break or injure the beets.

The green tops are edible, and frankly very tasty. Leave an inch or two of the green stalks attached to the roots. If you cut away the top of the roots you will cause them to bleed.

Any roots that are damaged should be used within a few weeks, they will not store well and rot spots will start at any damage. To prepare any roots for storage, rub soil from the roots, try not wash but if you do, dry them.

Store beets in a cold moist place as near to freezing as possible without actual freezing, 32°-40°F and 95 percent relative humidity in a container—a bucket or plastic storage box or cooler with moist sand, peat moss, or sawdust. Don’t pack roots too tightly; if the roots touch they can start to rot; be sure to leave 2 inches (5 cm) of insulating material around at the top, bottom, and sides of the stored roots. Set the lid loosely so that there is good air circulation.

Problems: Fungal Diseases, Pests, and Insects

Your beet gardening will include pest and disease management. You’ll want to keep an eye out for and protect your crop from these top risks:


Flea beetles are the most common pest problem. They damage leaves by leaving numerous tiny holes in beet leaves. If the infestation is bad enough the plants can be killed. Two organic methods to control flea beetles are:

  1. using floating row covers to protect the plants and
  2. putting beneficial nematodes in the soil to attack and kill the beetle larvae.

    • Cabbage loopers, tiny green caterpillars that can destroy the plant. Use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control.


    • Different forms of soil-borne fungi that grow in wet, humid environments cause damping. It’s most likely damping off if the seedlings die unexpectedly not long after planting, and the plants look discolored and decaying. Enable the seed-starting mix to dry entirely before watering, and make sure your soil has good drainage. Do not overwater your plants.

    • Cercospora leaf spot is a fungus that occurs on the leaves as dark, patchy spots that may be yellowy in color. Remove the affected leaves and throw them out without affecting the healthy ones. If your beets are planted close together, thin them out, so crowded plants have a better chance to grow. Cercospora can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb