Asparagus is a perennial, which means you plant it once and it comes back every year for decades.."
The secret of success with this crop is a rich porous soil, one well filled with organic matter. All vegetables demand a rich soil, but asparagus must have it. Make heavy applications of stable manure, compost, and commercial fertilizer before planting.
In addition to commercial fertilizer (to supplement animal manure or compost), organic material may be supplied by turning under green leguminous crops before setting. Use any leguminous crop that grows well in your section, such as soybeans, cowpeas, clovers, and vetches.
Because asparagus occupies the ground a long time, locate rows to one side of the garden. Growing asparagus may be done in beds, but the row method is much more satisfactory. It may be grown from seed, but the common practice is to buy crowns and set them in winter or early spring.
After the ground has been thoroughly pulverized by repeatedly plowing and harrowing, lay off the rows 4 to 5 feet apart. Dig the furrow or trench 10 to 12 inches deep and 24 inches wide. It should be wide enough for the roots to spread in their natural position.
When digging, put topsoil on one side of row and subsoil on the other. If a middle-buster or turning plow is used, be sure to open a furrow as wide and deep as that suggested above.
Put 2 inches of well rotted stable manure or compost material in the bottom of the trench or furrow. On top of this spread 10 pounds of high-grade commercial fertilizer for each 100 feet of row. Then mix these thoroughly with soil by digging or running a cultivator through it.
Cover with an inch or two of topsoil and set crowns 18 to 24 Inches apart, taking care to spread the roots in their natural position, and clip off any broken or otherwise injured roots. Cover with 3 inches of topsoil. Wait until after growth starts in spring and then gradually work in enough soil to level the row.
Of course, asparagus may be planted without digging a trench and putting in manure and fertilizer, but this is desirable because of the long time it will occupy the ground. If your garden is low and subject to flooding, plant crowns on the level and build up high rows to cover crowns to desired depth. This will provide better drainage for growing asparagus.
One hundred crowns will produce enough for an average family, both as a fresh vegetable and for canning and freezing.
To produce white or bleached asparagus, pull dirt in a high ridge on top of the row and cut several inches below the surface just as the shoots come through the ground. To get the green, which is more nutritious, leave row without a high ridge and cut shoots at ground level or just below when they reach desired height.
Soon after the plants start growing the first season, sidedress with 6-8-8 or comparable analysis fertilizer, use 5 to 10 pounds per 100 feet of row, and apply on both sides. About June, side-dress with 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer to each 100 feet of row.
Each fall when the stalks die, cut down level with the ground, rake off, and burn. Do not cut the tips at all the first season. Cut only two or weeks the second, to allow a strong root system to develop. From the third year on, extend the cutting season 2 weeks each year to a maximum of 8 to 10 weeks. Then let tops grow rest of season.
Immediately after cutting is stopped, give a liberal broadcast application of stable manure, or compost, and 5 to 10 pounds of 6-8-8 or comparable analysis fertilizer per 100 feet of row. Keep entirely free of weeds and grass. Mulching will help for growing asparagus.