2nd year asparagus

Discussion in 'General Gardening' started by BjornBee, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    From what I undestand, the second year asparagus should be harvested at 50%.

    Does that mean you let 50% go to seed head or grow to the max from the beginning? Should you keep it cut down until a certain time then let it grow?

    I had the first stalks go to seed very fast as we has extremely hot temps the past couple weeks. I want to harvest some, but not sure what they mean by 50% the second year. Or what stalks I should cut or let grow. Anyone suggestions?

    Thank you.
     
  2. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood New Member

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    I found this information at http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1603.html

    It gives some very clear cut information on when and how to harvest.

    Harvest asparagus by snapping 7 to 9 inch spears with tight tips. There is no need to cut asparagus below the soil with a knife. This may injure other buds on the crown that will send up new spears. The small stub that is left in the soil after snapping, dries up and disintegrates. A new spear does not come up at the same spot, but comes up from another bud that enlarges on another part of the crown.

    As the tips of the spears start to loosen (known as "ferning out"), fiber begins to develop at the base of the spears, causing them to become tough. The diameter of the spear has no bearing on its toughness. When harvesting, the asparagus patch should be picked clean, never allowing any spears to fern out, as this gives asparagus beetles an excellent site to lay their eggs.

    The year after planting, asparagus can be harvested several times throughout a three-week period, depending on air temperatures. Research shows there is no need to wait two years after planting before harvesting. In fact, harvesting the year after planting will stimulate more bud production on the crown and provide greater yields in future years, as compared with waiting two years before harvesting.

    Asparagus spears will start to emerge when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees F. After this, growth of asparagus is dependent on air temperature. Early in the season, 7 to 9 inch spears might be harvested every 2 to 4 days. As air temperatures increase, harvesting frequencies will increase to once or twice per day, harvesting 5 to 7 inch spears before the tips start to fern out and lose quality. The second year after planting, the length of harvest can increase to about 4 to 6 weeks. The third year after planting and thereafter, harvesting can continue for 6 to 8 weeks. Since the length of harvest season will vary from year-to-year depending on air temperature, stop the harvest when the diameter of 3/4 of the spears becomes small (less then 3/8 inch). Experience gained by growing the crop will make it easier for the gardener to know when to discontinue the harvest.

    When harvest is finished, snap all the spears off at ground level. Apply 1/2 lb. of ammonium nitrate fertilizer per 50 feet of row . At this time, a home garden formulation of glyphosate non-selective herbicide (such as Roundup) can be sprayed on the asparagus patch. This will kill any existing weeds. New spears will then emerge, fern out, and provide a large canopy to cover the space between the rows. Once a dense fern canopy is formed, weed growth will be shaded out.

    When my folks bought the farmstead, there was a patch of asparagus already there. No one knew how long it had been there. Every fall my dad would clean out the feedlot and put some of that fertilizer on the garden and the asparagus patch. We ALWAYS had plenty of asparagus. The patch was still thriving when my Mom sold the farm 50+ years later.
     

  3. BeeHunter

    BeeHunter New Member

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    I'm in year 4 on most my plantings and always took the early spears. I always add more dirt and mulch on top of the plants the first 3 years after I had dug a deep hole and added 1/3 dirt over the spears ea year per the directions I had @ the time. I am now on my 4th batch of "grass" in a week. I just wish I could find some morels to go w/ them!
     
  4. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    My asparagus just broke through the surface yesterday.

    The rule of thumb I go by (on an older patch) is to harvest the stalks until they start coming up about pencil thin. The thinness means the plant is getting stressed, or else it is a young plant. Either way, you don't want to pick the thin ones. My interpretation of "harvest 50%" would be to take the largest, sturdiest stalks, and perhaps not all of them. Then, when the stalks are about 2x pencil diameter, harvest only lightly, and let half the crop go to seed on nice sturdy stalks.

    I have read that (again, on more established patches), if you let a few strategically placed stalks go to fern early, they will provide shade, and you will be able to harvest the other plants later into the spring.

    I am also an advocate of breaking off the stalks when harvesting. First, I don't have to carry a knife. Second, I don't have to cut off a woody end when preparing. What could be better?
     
  5. BeeHunter

    BeeHunter New Member

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    Thats a nice link. Different than the one I read years ago. A heck of alot easier!!! Does anyone know of a good natural type "phosphate" to add to the plants?
     
  6. BeeHunter

    BeeHunter New Member

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    I found somew of my 2nd year stuff coming up just now. I am still getting a good handfull from my 7 older plants but letting some grow out for next season. They are starting to get a little thinner now. How do people keep asparagas? freeze it?
     
  7. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    I never get enough. I just eat it all!
     
  8. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I'm still getting some, although the hard freeze at night killed some back. I thought it would be hardier, but the stalks really take a beating with freezing.
     
  9. Monie

    Monie New Member

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    I have 2nd year asparagus, too. Nice info on it. I've been snapping some off as they come up.
     
  10. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Just passing on some info that I had been previously unaware of:

    My asparagus is in a raised bed, and it has been strugggling. I was told recently that I should have been watering it heavily in the fall, so that the roots have plenty of moisture going into winter. I can't vouch for the truth to this, but I have not been doing it and my plants are not doing well. Will start this fall.