Jersey Giant Asparagus
Plant in Full Sun
Soil: Since asparagus is a long-lived perennial, it pays to take the time to improve your soil before your plant it. Work in plenty of organic matter and make sure the soil ph is in the neutral 6.0 – 7.0 range.
[Dig a trench and prepare the soil long before planting time. Save the excess soil to cover the crowns later in the season.]
Planting: Plants can be started from seed about 4 weeks before the last expected frost. Seeds will add several years to your wait and asparagus is more commonly grown from crowns, which are the one year old base and roots of the plants. They look like a worn out string mop, but they are very much alive.
The crowns will need to be covered as they grow. The most common way to plant asparagus crowns is in a trench. In the spring, dig a trench about 8-10 in. deep and 18-20 in. wide. Work in your compost or other organic matter at this time.
To plant the crowns, spread the roots of the crowns out on the bottom of the trench.
Space plants about 12-15 in. apart, so they will have room to grow. Cover with a couple of inches of soil and water well
As the plants begin to grow, continue covering them with soil, leaving only a few inches exposed above ground. Do this until the trench is full.
[Top dress the plants with more compost each spring.]
[Do not harvest the first year; and only harvest 2 weeks the second year.]
ASPARAGUS VARIETIES Older asparagus varieties, such as ‘Martha Washington’, produce both male and female plants. The female plants are less desirable because they put their energy into making seeds, which reduces their spear production, and overpopulate the bed with volunteer plants. Recently, researchers at Rutgers University have introduced several highly productive, all-male hybrids that also have tolerance to asparagus rust and fusarium crown rot. Adapted to most climates, these include ‘Jersey King’, ‘Jersey Giant’ and ‘Jersey Knight’. A good choice for warmer areas (Zone 5 and above) is predominantly male ‘UC 157’, which produces spears even when harvest weather is hot. ‘Purple Passion’ is deep purple in color, it grows well in all regions
In the third year, begin harvesting spears that are finger-sized and about 8″ long. You can either snap off the spears or cut them with a knife, just below the soil line. If you use a knife, be careful you don’t also slice the later shoots that haven’t poked through yet.