Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that has been grown and enjoyed for many years. Originating from the Mediterranean, this unique vegetable grows wild along stream banks and desert washes.
In this article, we will see how to grow Asparagus in Texas. Asparagus is a cool-weather crop and will not tolerate hot temperatures. In Texas, asparagus can be planted from late September to early December.
A step-by-Step Guide on How To Grow Asparagus In Texas
Step 1: Select the Site
- Because asparagus grows in the same position for several years, it’s critical to choose the perfect spot and properly prepare the seedbed.
- Full sun and well-drained, deep, sandy or light-textured soils are ideal for asparagus.
- Asparagus plants make a nice border for a garden or a fence.
Step 2: Prepare the Soil
- Make sure the soil is free of debris, soil insects, and perennial weeds like bermudagrass or johnsongrass before planting.
- Avoid planting asparagus in areas where yellow nutsedge grows since this implies poor drainage, which is unfavorable for growing asparagus.
- Spread a 3-inch organic matter layer over the beds in late falls, such as rotted sawdust, manure, or compost.
- Turn the soil to cover any organic matter and till or spade them to a depth of 10-12 inches.
- Asparagus grows well on soils with a high pH but not so well in soils below 6.0.
- Before planting the beds, test the soil pH and apply lime if necessary to bring it down to 6.5-7.5.
Step 3: Get the Asparagus Crowns
- Asparagus is cultivated from crowns that are one or two years old and are planted in January or February or as soon as the ground can be worked.
- Seeds planted in flats or peat cups can also grow crowns.
- A nice crown takes at least a year to develop.
- Purchase and plant healthy, strong 1- or 2-year-old crowns from a nursery, garden center, or seed catalog to reduce the time between planting and harvest.
Step 4: Planting
- Mark rows 5 feet apart after the asparagus beds have been tilled.
- Dig a 4-inch-wide, 4- to 12-inch-deep furrow.
- For the best spear size uniformity at harvest, separate the crowns by size and plant those of comparable size together.
- Spread 2.0 pounds per 1,000 square feet or 0.75 ounces per 20-foot row of superphosphate fertilizer (0-46-0) as a band in the furrow.
- In the furrow, space the crowns 12 to 14 inches apart.
- Planting too close together can result in tiny spears.
- Larger spears come from wider planting, but the total yield is smaller.
- Plant the crowns in loose soils at a depth of 6-12 inches and 4-6 inches deep in heavier soils.
- One inch of compost, followed by 2-3 inches of soil, should be used to fill the furrow.
- The soil around the roots should be compacted.
- As the shoots grow, gradually fill the furrows during the season.
- This includes little weeds, which die due to a lack of light.
- The furrow should go back to normal by the first season’s end.
- Control weeds while avoiding injury to the crowns.
- You can cultivate the bed with a tiller or garden tools without hurting the crowns if the crowns are planted deeply.
- An alternative planting strategy is to plant the crowns at the indicated depth and immediately fill up the furrow with soil to its original level.
- If you use this strategy, you don’t need to progressively cover the crowns with dirt as long as the earth isn’t compacted over the newly planted crowns.
- From the time the crown is planted until the bed is fully productive, it takes 2 to 3 years.
- Buds emerge from the top and mature into tasty spears when conditions are suitable.
- If the spears are not picked, they will grow into fern-like stalks.
- The mature plant produces food from these stalks and stores it in the underground crown.
- This energy store ensures that spears are produced the following year.
Step 5: Watering
- Asparagus plants need to be watered frequently and thoroughly.
- After fully watering the beds, let the top 1-inch layer of soil dry before spraying water again.
- Depending on the soil type and temperature, the period can range from 3-5 days.
- If enough soil moisture is available, asparagus roots can reach a depth of 10 feet in sandy soils.
Step 6: Crop Production
- It takes an asparagus plant two years to produce a crop. In the first year, the plant will grow slowly and not produce any spears.
- In the second year, the plant will grow more rapidly and produce spears that can be harvested.
- New spears should be harvested before they get too tall or tough.
- Spears should be cut off at ground level with a sharp knife or shears.
- Do not break the spears off by bending them, as this will cause damage to the plant.
- New shoots will grow from the plant base during the second year.
- These can be harvested for four or five weeks in late spring through mid-summer.
- The older shoots that have grown during the first summer should be removed at ground level with a sharp knife or shears.
- A healthy asparagus plant will have well-established roots and be 2-3 feet tall in the third year.
Step 7: Care During the Growing Season
- During the growing season, it is time to establish a permanent bed.
- First, clean off any weeds in the bed area and turn over the soil with a shovel or spading fork. Next, till the soil and remove any rocks or other debris.
- Spread a 3-4 inch layer of compost over the bed and shape it into a mound about 30 inches wide and 1 foot tall.
- The soil in this area will provide nutrients for the asparagus plant roots.
- When starting an asparagus bed, do not fertilize during the first year.
- The added fertilizer will only stimulate weed growth. In the second and subsequent years, fertilize with a balanced fertilizer of 10-10-10.
- Apply the fertilizer at the rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet.
- Rake it into the top 2 inches of soil.
- Asparagus is a slow grower and will not reach maturity until the fourth or fifth year.
- In the meantime, be sure to keep the bed free of weeds and mulch with a 2-3 inch layer of straw, leaves, or compost.
Step 8: Harvesting
- Depending on the region, asparagus spears can be harvested from established beds for up to 8 weeks.
- Harvesting should be avoided for the first two years following planting.
- The underground crown can grow and store adequate reserves for a strong harvest for many years during this waiting time.
- When the spears are 4-10 inches long, harvest them.
- Harvest every other day to keep the spears from turning fibrous.
- Over maturity or insufficient fertility cause the fibrous condition.
- Spears with open or loose heads are overripe.
- To harvest, snap off the spears by hand at ground level.
- Asparagus spears should never be snapped above the ground or left with a stub.
- Another option is to cut the spears 1-2 inches with a knife below the soil level.
- Never deeply cut the spear to avoid damaging the crown’s budding buds.
- This procedure, however, is not recommended because the knife has the potential to spread illnesses from crown to crown.
- Stop harvesting when the spear diameter is less than 3/8 inch, or the spearheads open up due to rising temperatures.
Asparagus is a perennial crop and will come back year after year with proper care. Keeping the bed free of weeds is important, especially during the first two years when the plants are establishing their roots.
Mulch with a 2-3 inch layer of straw, leaves, or compost to help suppress weed growth. Keep the crowns free of weeds while still small to avoid damaging the roots.
The plants should be spaced 2-3 feet apart in rows 6-8 feet apart. Asparagus prefers to grow in well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. A 2- to 3-inch layer of compost should be worked into the soil before planting.
Now that you’ve been provided with the comprehensive guide on how to grow Asparagus in Texas, you can enjoy this great vegetable which is low in calories and a powerful antioxidant that is rich in Vitamin C and E.