It can take a couple of years after planting, before you get to start enjoying home grown asparagus. When you can finally harvest your asparagus, there is a debate on how you should harvest it.
Do you snap or cut the asparagus. In this article we will be discussing how and when to harvest asparagus.
Asparagus Takes A Little Patience
Unlike other vegetables, where you can plant them and harvest within the same year, asparagus takes a little longer. It isn’t until the third year after planting that you can harvest it.
Some gardeners have said you could harvest asparagus after the second year. However if you do this, you should do it sparingly as it could affect your crop for the next year.
Asparagus does appear in the first two years after planting, however you need to have some control and leave them alone.
If you do harvest them in the first two years, you are very likely to kill the plants or stunt their production in the upcoming years. It may sound like such a long time, but waiting three years before harvesting is the goal.
As long as you have planted the crown properly and cared for your asparagus over those first two years. This includes fetalizings them and making sure they are protected.
Then in the third year after planting in the spring you will have a crop of fresh asparagus. This crop will keep coming back year after year, for the next 15 years. The crop will begin sometime in spring and can last until mid June to July, depending on the weather.
You have made it into the spring of your third year of planting. Now is the time to harvest. When the spears are about 6 to 10 inches above the soil, this is the best time to harvest them.
When it comes to harvesting your asparagus, you can either cut or snap the spear as close to the soil as you can. It is a matter of personal preference which one you choose to do. By cutting the asparagus, you have more control on how low to the soil you are cutting the spear.
While it also leaves you with a clean edge. However if you do choose to cut, remember to use a sharp knife or scissors. Don’t cut below the soil line, otherwise you could affect any plants that are beginning to grow it or it could affect the entire plant.
Some gardners cut, while others snap . With snapping you are less likely to cause any damage to the plant. Thus it is sometimes seen as the safer method to use.
However not everyone feels comfortable with snapping the asparagus. It is a slightly safer method when harvesting. Yet both methods are effective and both ways are used across the country to harvest asparagus.
When To Stop Harvesting Asparagus
You can harvest asparagus from early spring, all the way to early summer. However after July, you must stop harvesting even if you see asparagus ready to be harvested.
Otherwise you could affect your crop for the next year. You need to allow the plant to build up its energy for the next year.
You will notice after 6 to 8 of the first spears emerging that the crop is slowing down. This is the time to stop harvesting. Also when you notice that the diameter of your spears has decreased massively and looks almost like a pencil, this is a sign to stop harvesting.
Alongside this, if the amount of spears growing is decreasing, this means the plant has run out of energy.
After the harvesting period is over. It’s time to snap or cut off any old shoots and fertilize the soil. The fertilizer helps feed the soil and the plant. Now the plant will spend this time building up energy for the crop next year.
Every year after the harvesting period, you will need to fertilize the soil. Otherwise this can affect your plant, which then affects your crop. Asparagus are huge feeders and like to be fed regularly.
The edible part of asparagus is the steam, not the leaves. Hence asparagus requires lots of phosphorus, instead of nitrogen.
Always keep your asparagus area weed free and try not to over harvest in your first harvest as your plant is still young. Therefore in the first couple of years try to harvest lightly. Then once your plant has become stronger and more robust, these are the years you can start harvesting more heavily.
Although, after quite a few years, some gardeners have noticed that their plant isn’t as strong as it used to be.
You will notice this by the quality of asparagus that is produced. If you notice this, then it may be time to divide and transplant your asparagus crowns somewhere else.
Your plants may be too crowded where they are, or the spot you choose several years isn’t giving the crown what it needs anymore.
Dividing and transplanting the crown is really easy and you’ll get better results. However, don’t harvest asparagus the first year after transplanting, it still needs time. They need time to redevelop energy in a new area.
Asparagus isn’t an easy vegetable to grow, but if you follow all the steps, they will survive in your garden for up to 15 to 20 years. They will keep coming back year after year with better crops for you. There is a right and wrong time to harvest asparagus.
The right time is to harvest in early spring and you must stop by July or 6 to 8 weeks after the first spears emerge. It is normally quite clear when it is time to stop harvesting.
As mentioned above, when it comes to harvesting asparagus you can either snap or cut the spears. It is completely up to you, but the majority of gardeners do tend to feel that snapping is the safe method to use.
Asparagus can take a lot of work as it needs to be constantly fed, but there is nothing better than eating the asparagus that you grew yourself and took time and love over.