Growing asparagus from seed- A cheaper alternative to buying expensive semi mature crowns.
I have 12 mature plants cropping at the moment and I get about 2-3 spears from each plant twice a week. This gives my family several feeds of asparagus a week.
I harvest spears for about 6 weeks before letting them develop into full leaf and start feeding the crown for next year’s crop.
Half the plants I have, have been grown from purchased semi mature (2-3yrs old) crowns and the other half have been produced by seed. I wanted to trial the seeds to see how difficult it was to grow asparagus from seed, if they were as good as the purchased crowns and how quickly they produce good quality spears.
Crowns are reasonably expensive, depending on where you buy them, they can range from $7 to $12 per crown, though this is not an excessive price, when you consider how long they produce, if you want 12 or so plants it means an outlay of over $100.00 which can be a bit off putting.
Whereas a packet of seed can be as cheap as $2 or $3 and they usually contains around 20 seeds in each packet.
From my experience the seedling crowns are just as good as the mature crowns I have purchased.
There is a much greater range of asparagus that can be purchased as seeds, including some lovely heritage varieties.
So last spring when I wanted to increase the number of plants I have, rather than buy mature crowns, I sowed two packets of seed one of “Mary Washington” and one of a purple variety known as “Sweet purple”.
I would like to share with you how I did this so if you would like to start to grow asparagus or increase the number of asparagus plants you have, but are baulking at the cost of mature plant, this is a very cheap alternative.
Be aware that it will take more time, usually around 2 to 3 years, to harvest decent sized spears.
So what to do:
- ¾ fill a 10cm pot with good quality potting mix and top it with 5cm of seed raising mix.
- Sprinkled the asparagus seeds over the top and covered with a further 1-2cms of seed raising mix
- Firm down to get good seed to soil contact and water well.
- Pop them in a shelter spot in high light and keep the soil moist.
- Protected from snails and birds
- Once the seedlings are about 10- 12 cms high, plant them into a well prepared garden bed.
- Try not to disturb the root too much.
It is difficult to continue growing the young asparagus in a pot as it is hard to keep the moisture and nutrients up to them as they grow so quickly.
In the ground they will power away and produce good strong plants and start to develop small crowns.
The following winter, when the plants have become dormant:
- Dig them up and divide then into individual plants
- Discarded any that were too small or damaged in the dividing process
- Replanted them at 30 cm intervals into a well prepared garden bed.
All the seedling I planted last winter have taken and I now have 20 young crowns growing.
The spears are very thin so I will not pick anything from these crowns for another 2 to 3 years by which time the crowns will be producing strong spears.
So effectively from 2 packets of seeds, at a cost of $7, I have produced the equivalent of around $200 worth of crowns – all it took was a little effort and time.
So if you baulk at paying the price for mature asparagus crown or would like to try some different varieties of asparagus why not try growing your own from seed.
For more information on starting your productive backyard, check out the website.
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Happy Gardening Kathy