One of the things that we really like to eat in the spring is asparagus. It’s a delicacy, and you can’t beat having good asparagus fresh out of the garden.
I’ll harvest the spears when they get to be about eight to ten inches tall. I’ll cut them off at the soil line with a knife. The bottom part of the asparagus stem is fairly tough and woody. So, I like to take a knife and push it into the stem. When the knife goes into the stem fairly easily, that’s where I trim it before I eat it.
We want to keep all the spears cut off, even the smaller diameter ones. They can either be discarded or used. If you allow a fern to develop, it will shut down the production of new spears from the crown, and that will be the end of the asparagus harvest. So, during the harvest period, remove all the spears, including the small ones.
At the end of the harvest season, you’ll want to let the ferns grown. It’s very important that the fern grows on the asparagus because this is what builds the crown of the plant for next year’s harvest. In addition, I have recently added some fertilizer. The extra boost in nitrogen will invigorate the plants and help them accumulate more carbohydrates, and hopefully a better harvest next year.
The ferns should be left on until there is a good, solid hard freeze. And, the fern is killed. At that time, the fern can be removed. Or, if you wish, it can remain attached to the plant over the winter to catch snow so that there is more moisture.
If you like to enjoy asparagus, do consider planting this crop in your vegetable garden.
This feature story prepared with Jacob Weber, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent for Crawford, Cherokee and Montgomery county. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.