Back in 2008 I blogged about planting my first asparagus plants at the farmhouse. I followed the instructions in my father's copy of "Sprockett's Victory Garden" but only 3 of the plants came up that first year. I had to fill in the trench when I left (around the end of July) even though only those 3 plants had sprouted.
When I got back the next summer, only 2 of the asparagus plants had survived. Incredibly disappointing, considering all the work it took three of us to dig a trench 10' long, 18" wide, and 12" deep. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong. I have a feeling that I planted too deep--6" of dirt over those original roots.
This summer was my first harvest from those 2 surviving asparagus plants. it was small.
(cereal bowl included to show scale, and because it was morning)
So this summer I decided to try again, and had much better results. I planted a different variety, Jersey Giant in '08 and Martha Washington this time. I have no idea if that made a difference.
I was fairly certain that last time I had planted too deep, and filled in too much too soon. I think I followed the instructions in The Victory Garden book, but it was my dad's and I didn't have it with me, so I may also have remembered wrong. That time I planted 12" deep and initially refilled the trench with 6" of dirt. Since then I've checked more gardening books and websites and none of them say to go that deep. So this summer I followed the directions that came with my asparagus roots and re-dug most of the trench to 6" deep total, filling in with 3" of dirt until the shoots emerged.
That was successful. By the middle of July, every single root had produced a tiny fern, tall enough that I could return the last 3" of dirt to the trench, bringing it back to level with the rest of the garden.
The tall ferns at the far end of the photo are the 2 original Jersey Giants, the rest are the 10 Martha Washington asparagus I planted this year.
If all goes well I'll have all the asparagus I can eat in the spring of 2013.