How Much Space Does Asparagus Need to Grow: Essential Planting Guide

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Growing asparagus at home can be a rewarding experience, but it’s essential to understand the space requirements for this unique vegetable. Asparagus plants need ample room to establish their extensive root systems and produce a bountiful harvest. In this article, we will provide detailed information on the amount of space asparagus needs to grow, ensuring your garden has the proper conditions for a thriving crop.

Asparagus Varieties and Basic Requirements

When growing asparagus, gardeners can choose from several varieties, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular varieties include Jersey Giant, Purple Passion, and Mary Washington. These varieties are known for their high yields, disease resistance, and delicious flavors.

Regardless of variety, asparagus plants share some basic growing requirements:

  • Soil: Asparagus thrives in medium-textured soils such as silt loam, loam, sandy clay loam, or sandy loam. Heavy clay or very sandy soils should be avoided. It’s essential for the soil to have good drainage, as waterlogged soil can damage the plants (University of Minnesota Extension).
  • Spacing: Crowns or one-year-old roots should be planted in trenches 12 inches deep and wide, with a spacing of 18 inches between the asparagus mounds. This allows enough room for the plants to grow without competing for nutrients and water (The Spruce).
  • Sunlight: For optimal growth, asparagus plants require a minimum of eight hours of direct sunlight daily. It’s important to avoid planting asparagus in areas where they may eventually be shaded by trees or tall shrubs, as this can compete with the plant’s access to resources(UNH Extension).
  • Irrigation: A steady supply of moisture is crucial, especially during the planting year. Access to irrigation is particularly important for sandy soils (University of Minnesota Extension).

Creating the ideal environment for asparagus plants ensures healthy growth and high-quality spears. Keep these basic requirements in mind when selecting a location and preparing the soil.

How Much Space Does Asparagus Need to Grow?

Providing the right amount of space for asparagus is crucial for producing healthy and strong plants. This section will explain the space requirements for asparagus planting, including seed spacing, plant spacing, and row spacing.

Seed Spacing

If you’re starting your asparagus from seeds, it’s important to ensure that each seed has enough room to germinate and grow. Scatter the seeds a minimum of 2 inches apart in trays or pots filled with well-draining soil mix. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted outdoors or into larger pots with proper spacing between plants.

Plant Spacing

When transplanting asparagus crowns or seedlings, giving them enough space to grow is vital. Asparagus plants will require plenty of space in the coming years, so lay them out at a distance of 45cm (18″) apart (Thompson & Morgan). Alternatively, you can space them at 12 to 16 inches apart for thick spears, and 8 to 10 inches apart for thinner spears(Burpee Seeds).

Row Spacing

Proper row spacing is essential to provide each asparagus plant with enough room to grow and access the required nutrients, water, and sunlight. In order to allow for healthy growth, it’s recommended that rows of asparagus be spaced at a minimum of 2 feet apart.

This spacing allows for two rows of asparagus to be accommodated within a 4-foot wide bed.

This advice is important to ensure that the asparagus plants have enough space to grow and receive proper amounts of sunlight and nutrients(Modern Farmer).

Ensuring adequate row spacing also facilitates efficient harvesting and minimizes competition between plants.

Considering these spacing recommendations will help your asparagus plants thrive and produce a bountiful harvest.

Section 4: Different Methods of Growing Asparagus

Raised Beds

Raised beds offer an optimal environment for growing asparagus, as they provide improved drainage and help maintain a consistent soil temperature. To effectively grow asparagus in raised beds, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • The bed should be at least 12 inches deep to accommodate the root system
  • Space asparagus crowns 12 to 18 inches apart within the bed (source)
  • Fill the bed with a nutrient-rich soil mix

Container Gardening

If space is limited or you want to move your asparagus to take advantage of sunlight, container gardening is another viable option. When growing asparagus in containers, remember to:

  • Select a container that is at least 18 inches deep and wide to give enough room for the root system
  • Plant a single asparagus crown per container
  • Use a high-quality potting soil, ensuring proper drainage

In-Ground Planting

Traditional in-ground planting is also a common method for growing asparagus. When planting asparagus in the ground, consider the following tips:

  • Dig a furrow, or trench, that is 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide (source)
  • Space asparagus crowns 12 to 18 inches apart within the furrow (source)
  • Space furrows at least 3 feet apart to allow room for the plants to grow and spread (source)
  • Green varieties should be 8 to 14 inches apart in rows, while purple varieties should be 6 to 8 inches apart in rows (source)

Spacing for Different Asparagus Varieties

Various asparagus varieties demand slightly different spacing requirements for optimal growth. Though there are general guidelines, the spacing can vary with the type of asparagus. Let’s examine the spacing needed for both green and purple varieties of asparagus.

Green Asparagus Varieties

When growing green asparagus, it is essential to give the plants enough room to grow and produce a healthy yield without overcrowding. Johnny’s Selected Seeds recommends spacing green asparagus varieties 8-14 inches apart in-row. Between rows, allow 3-6 feet of space to provide ample room for growth.

  • In-row spacing: 8-14 inches
  • Between rows spacing: 3-6 feet

Purple Asparagus Varieties

Purple asparagus varieties differ slightly in their spacing requirements. They generally produce more slender spears, which impacts the spacing guidelines. According to the same source, space purple asparagus 6-8 inches apart in-row. Maintain the same 3-6 feet of space between rows as you would with green asparagus.

  • In-row spacing: 6-8 inches
  • Between rows spacing: 3-6 feet

Another factor to consider when planning your asparagus garden is the number of crowns needed per acre. For instance, Oklahoma State University suggests that 6,000 to 9,000 crowns per acre are necessary, depending on the specific spacing used.

What to Avoid Planting Near Asparagus

Some plants may not be ideal companions for asparagus, as they can compete for nutrients, water, and space or attract pests. It’s essential to create a harmonious environment in your garden, allowing your asparagus to thrive. Here’s a list of some plants you should avoid planting near asparagus:

  • Garlic and onions: These strong-scented plants may hinder asparagus growth, as they can compete for the same nutrients in the soil, leading to weaker asparagus plants.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes may increase the risk of diseases in your asparagus plants, such as asparagus blight, and they can also compete for nutrients and water.
  • Tomatoes and peppers: These plants are susceptible to similar pests and diseases, which means planting them near asparagus could increase the chances of overall pest infestations or disease spread in your garden.

Instead, consider planting beneficial companion plants near your asparagus, such as petunias or marigolds (SF Gate). These flowering plants can help repel pests and, when used as a border, can provide an attractive look for your garden. Other good companions for asparagus include herbs like parsley, basil, and dill, which can attract predatory insects that feed on common asparagus pests, offering natural pest control.

When planning your garden layout, keep the recommended spacing of 18 inches between asparagus plants in mind. This spacing provides asparagus with room to grow while ensuring proper air circulation, which can help prevent diseases. Remember, a well-thought-out garden layout and appropriate plant selection can promote healthy growth for your asparagus, making your gardening efforts worthwhile.

Helpful Asparagus Companion Plants

When planning your asparagus garden, it is essential to consider companion plants that can benefit your asparagus growth. These plants are helpful in promoting a healthy growing environment by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, and improving soil conditions. Here are some excellent asparagus companion plants:

  • Tomatoes: These plants repel asparagus beetles and provide shade during hot weather, ensuring the asparagus stays cool and healthy within the optimal growing range.
  • Parsley: Parsley attracts hoverflies and ladybugs, two helpful predators that keep aphids and other pests away from your garden.
  • Basil: This herb helps to repel various insects, including aphids and whiteflies, making it a great companion plant for asparagus.
  • Marigolds: Known for their ability to deter nematodes and other soil-dwelling pests, marigolds can protect asparagus crowns and improve overall garden health.

In addition to these helpful companions, consider using other plants that have similar growing requirements and can thrive alongside asparagus. Some examples include:

  • Lettuce: This cool-season crop appreciates the partial shade provided by asparagus ferns and can fill in the space between asparagus rows nicely.
  • Spinach: Another cool-season vegetable with low growing foliage, it makes an excellent choice for planting near asparagus.

Keep in mind that some plants should be avoided near asparagus, as they may compete for resources or cause harm. For example, garlic, onions, and potatoes are not recommended as companions due to their tendency to compete for nutrients and water in the soil.

Caring for Your Asparagus Plants

Watering and Fertilizing

Asparagus plants require consistent watering, especially during their first few growing seasons. Aim to provide 1 to 2 inches of water per week. As the plants mature, you can reduce the frequency of watering.

For optimal growth, apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring before new spears emerge. You can also add compost or well-rotted manure to provide extra nutrients.

Weed Control and Mulching

Weeds can compete with asparagus plants for nutrients and space. Remove any weeds around your plants regularly. To prevent the growth of new weeds, consider adding a 2 to 4-inch layer of mulch around the plants. Mulching helps conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature, further benefiting your asparagus plants.source.

Disease and Pest Management

Asparagus is susceptible to several diseases, such as rust and fusarium wilt, and pests like asparagus beetle. To prevent diseases, follow proper planting, spacing, and watering techniques to keep your asparagus plants healthy. In the case of pests, check for any signs of damage and remove any visible pests by hand. If necessary, use organic insecticides to control infestations.

By taking the necessary precautions for watering, fertilizing, weed control, and pest management, you can help ensure a successful asparagus harvest for years to come.

Harvesting and Storing Asparagus

Properly harvesting asparagus is essential for maintaining the health of the plant and ensuring a continuous yield in future seasons. To harvest asparagus, wait until the spears reach a height of 6 to 8 inches and have a diameter of about ⅜ inch. Use a sharp knife or your hands to cut or snap the spears just below the soil line. Keep in mind that it’s best to harvest asparagus in the morning, as the spears are still crisp and full of flavor at that time.

During the first two years after planting, it is crucial to limit the harvest period to allow the plant to establish itself. In the first year, only harvest for about two weeks. In the second year, you can extend the harvest period to about four weeks. From the third year onwards, you can enjoy a full harvest season of 6 to 8 weeks.

When it comes to storing asparagus, it’s important to keep the spears fresh and crisp. To do this, follow these simple storage techniques:

  • Bundle the spears: Tie the asparagus spears in small bundles to maintain their structure.
  • Refrigerate: Place the asparagus bundles in a plastic bag or wrap them in a damp paper towel before placing them in the refrigerator. The ideal storage temperature is between 32 and 36°F.
  • Store upright: If possible, store the bundles upright in a container with an inch of water to keep the asparagus fresh and hydrated.

Using these methods, asparagus can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or even longer. However, consuming the spears as soon as possible will ensure the best flavor and texture.