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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
JerryHaskins
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Default Do asparagus plants have a life expectancy?

About 10 to 15 years ago I planted 2-year old asparagus crowns.

I cannot remember what variety they were.

The first year we ate none. The second year we ate a little.

After that we have eaten lots of delicious, large asparagus spears.

But for the last 2 years, we have had few edible spears.

We get a few nice, large spears, but mostly we get thin, spindly spears the size of a pencil or smaller that we let grow into 5-foot high bushy plants.

I am wondering if maybe it is time to dig it up and replant.

Or is it a lack of fertilizer or over crowding or what?

Thanks.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
ako1974
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I have a bed that is now (I think) 9 years old. I had planted 2 year old crowns. It's been extremely productive...until now. Fewer spears, and thinner. I was wondering myself if additional compost would do the trick or if the bed is beginning to decline.

However, I also planted 2 other beds within the last 2 or 3 years. Both of them were more productive last year by this point. So I can't conclude anything yet. Typically, when we have late cold - as in some past years - they were slow to break dormancy. But this year, it's been steadily warm for weeks. I do notice some thicker spears now sprouting, so we'll see...

I have read that with the proper conditions, a bed can go 20 years...
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
ChiliPeppa
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I have four 9-year-old beds. I noticed they were a bit slow to wake up this year but now they are going full blast. My understanding is that asparagus beds can go for decades. One thing I do know is that they will drop seed and grow crown over crown if you are not careful. Perhaps this may have something to do with your bed declining a bit. Digging up old crowns can be a b!itch. Also make sure they are getting enough water. We get no rain so I have to hand water and I always get a jump of new shoots next day.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #4
Groundhog
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It took me a while to find this again but it's the best site I've seen for asparagus information.

This jumped right out at me when a saw you were in Mississippi.

"Production is most successful in areas where freezing temperatures or drought terminates plant growth and provides a rest period. Without this rest period, reduced yields are likely."


https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden...ide/index.html
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #5
KarenO
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Asparagus is a heavy feeder. Mulch well with compost every fall, also dislikes being dry
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #6
JerryHaskins
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Thanks, everybody.

I found this in the linked site that Groundhog posted:

Quote:
Six to eight inches is the optimum depth for crown planting. Shallower planting depths cause production of spindly, thin spears, whereas deeply planted crowns produce fewer spears of larger diameter and emergence is delayed. In addition, as crowns grow in mass, they 'migrate' upward making the crown more susceptible to frost damage during first spear emergence. Planting crowns closer than 12 inches results in reduced spear size and quality.
Although that is talking about planting crowns, it sounds like an old bed could migrate shallower and get more crowded---both of which could cause reduced spear size.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #7
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I have heard around here (asparagus is popular and really expensive here, the white kind) that you should only grow a certain number of years asparagus on same plot, after that the mineral content of the soil is heavily depleted.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #8
ako1974
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I checked my oldest bed this morning. There are a lot of thick spears breaking ground right now.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #9
FarmerShawn
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Our old bed is over 40 years old, and a little more than 1/3 still productive, despite severe neglect since I put in our new bed about seven years ago. I want to till it in and use it for something else, but I just can’t bear to lose the great stalks it still produces!


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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #10
brownrexx
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My asparagus bed is 7 years old. I add a layer of compost both spring and fall. I have never added any fertilizers other than compost. I started with 25, 2 year old crown of Jersey Supreme and now I am harvesting about 30 nice thick spears every other day.

Even though the Jersey hybrids are all male they will still produce a small amount of flowers that are hermaphroditic. In other words they have both male and female parts and they will produce seeds.

The seeds that fall into the bed will germinate in the spring and I always pull these seedlings as well as any other weeds that pop up. After I finish harvesting, I mulch the bed with a thick layer of grass clippings which will feed it with nitrogen for good fern growth, maintains moisture in the bed and keeps any more weeds smothered.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #11
JerryHaskins
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Sounds like folks in cooler climates have better results with asparagus. Here in Mississippi (Zone 8b), the temperature has been in the low 90s lately.

My asparagus ferns are about 5 feet tall right now.

Edible spears are produced only during really early spring down here.

I like the idea of adding mulch every fall/winter. I will give that a shot.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #12
Barb_FL
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I think it is a weather thing too. I tried it in Florida with the Jersey Supremes and was very faithful not to take any the first 2 years. By year three if I waited for a couple of spears, the next day the spear would be a 2' fern.

I took out the bed in year 4 or 5 as it was diminishing returns. I was also disappointed on how many red seeds I had so assumed that I didn't really get the Jersey Supremes bare roots that I was sold.

I did have healthy ferns though.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #13
JerryHaskins
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Yeah, the ferns are shading some other plants and making a big mess---leaning over on my tomato plants and such.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #14
brownrexx
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One year my ferns were leaning over on my other plants too much so I put tall stakes in all 4 corners of the asparagus bed and ran some garden twine around the bed. That kept them more upright and off of my other plants.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #15
bower
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I have an old asparagus bed that ran out maybe fifteen years ago and is overgrown with other things, but I noticed there are still a few ferns there in the summer. I've thought about digging them up and transplanting to a new bed and start over, but I'm not sure if that would work.
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