Growing Asparagus in Tasmania
This delicious perennial vegetable is an asset to any vegetable garden. The plants take a few years to start producing, but once your asparagus plants are established, they can produce for 2-3 decades.
Don’t be tempted to start harvesting from your plants too early. Follow the harvesting instructions carefully to help your asparagus grow into strong plants that can produce abundantly.
Asparagus likes full sun. In warmer climates asparagus may appreciate some shade in the afternoon, but in the cool Tasmanian climate, they like as much sun as they can get.
Asparagus lives for a very long time (around 15-30 years) So, it’s worth taking the time to prepare their bed well. They like rich, well-draining soil. Work plenty of compost and well-rotted manure as well as lime into the soil. Dig a trench approximately 15-20 cm deep.
Poor draining soil can cause problems for asparagus, so if you have drainage problems, then consider raised beds or amend the soil with grit to improve drainage.
Asparagus is usually planted from crowns. It can be grown from seed in spring, but takes much longer to reach a harvestable age.
Asparagus can be started from seed. Sow the seeds into seed beds until the third year and then dig up the crowns, separate them and plant as you would for crowns.
Crowns should be planted while they’re dormant in winter.
Soak the crowns in water for at least an hour before you plant them. Place the crowns gently into the trench with their roots fanned out and cover lightly. Once the shoots appear, keep adding layers of soil until your trench is level with the ground and then apply a good layer of mulch. When you’re done covering the trench in, the crowns should be 15cm-20cm below the surface.
The fern-like plants will die back in winter. Once they are dead, cut them back to make way for the new growth that will burst through in spring. You can use the dead ferns as a mulch on your asparagus bed or add them to your compost heap.
Keep them well watered while they are active. Especially during the summer when they can dry out quickly.
Asparagus grows in the same spot for many years. It needs to be fed well to produce well. The crowns are dormant in the winter, so give the bed a good layer of compost or well-rotted manure before they start growing again in early spring. It’ll also act as a mulch to protect them from the worst cold of winter.
Asparagus appreciates a thick layer of mulch. Sugarcane or lucerne are good options.
Spears will start to appear in spring. Use a sharp knife to cut them off as low as possible.
Assuming you've planted crowns:
- In the first year after planting crowns: Harvest only very lightly or not at all.
- In the second year: Harvest for 2 weeks.
- In the fourth year: Harvest for 4 weeks.
- From the sixth year, you can harvest for up to 6 weeks.
If you’ve grown your asparagus from seeds, you can start harvesting for 2 weeks after 3 years.