How can you tell when asparagus is too old?
This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Anonymous 7 years, 9 months ago.
March 29, 2010 at 11:21 pm #28982
When we bought our house we were very fortunate (I thought) in that it came with a large and very established asparagus bed. The former owner lived and gardened there for 50 years. For the last two years the asparagus has come up, but the stalks are either very thick or very thin and my son (who adores asparagus) thinks that the asparagus is on the tough side. Info I’ve found on-line and in books says asparagus beds will live up to 25 years. But I can’t find any information on how you can tell when a bed is past its prime. Is this bed just too old or are there things I can do to rejuvenate it? And if it’s too old how on earth do I get rid of it?! I understand that the roots run very, very deep.March 30, 2010 at 1:58 am #29285
I’ve never had an asparagus bed older than 17 years, but my understanding is that the crowns will literally die. If your bed was past its prime, I think that you would see bare patches in the bed; areas where it looks like asparagus should or used to come up, but is no longer appearing.
As far as toughness, I think there are several things that may cause this. A. Asparagus should be eaten shortly after it is picked, it becomes tougher the longer it sits in your fridge. B. Asparagus growing (slower) in cold weather will be tougher and therefore should be picked shorter than asparagus growing (faster) in warm weather. C. Once the heads begin to open up the asparagus quickly thoughens; it should be picked when the spears are still tight. D. Newer asparagus cultivars claim to be more tender than old ones; perhaps yours is not as tender as the asparagus you are used to eating.
If you feel that your bed needs rejuvenating, I would suggest that you top dress heavily and skip a year of harvesting. It would also be a good idea to get a soil test to see if the pH needs adjusting. This factsheet from the New Hampshire cooperative extension contains information on the appropriate fetilizer ratios: http://extension.unh.edu/resources/representation/Resource000603_Rep625.pdfMarch 31, 2010 at 12:32 am #29290
Here is how I grow asparagus, in case you didn’t see on the blog:
My patch is about 20 years old now, and I have filled in a few weak spots as they occurred with new crowns. But (most important) I feed it with all-natural organic fertilizer in early spring or as the shoots poke through and add compost and mulch each year, and I keep it weeded. Weeded=key. Don’t make it compete!April 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm #29333
Thanks so much for the info. So I guess I should stop trying to kill it. I was feeling bad about that anyway since it clearly has a will to live. The bed is bigger than I would want and I’m not wild about the way it looks in “full fern.” Also, it gets red “berries.” Are these seeds and is it reseeding itself?
We do eat it quickly, but I haven’t fed it since we moved in so maybe that’s part of the problem. I like the idea of replacing thinner spots with new crowns. Any downside to mixing varieties?
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