Last night late we heard the wind howling. This morning there's a little bit of snow on the ground, reminding us that we do live in close proximity to the high Sierra. With a 40% chance of snow today in the mountains and a 60% chance tonight, skiers will be happy and hopeful for a few extended days of fun on the slopes. Gardeners, happy about the recent warmth, will be worried about their budding fruit trees and tender garden sprouts. It's that time of year.
This young asparagus crown sits in the snow this morning. The young tips are definitely susceptible to a killing frost, but no such thing took place last night. This little crown is enduring its second spring here in Reno. We look forward to its long life.
Asparagus actually has a life expectancy of 15 or so years. They grow easily in most soils, but they will do better in a phosphorus rich soil, and they need excellent drainage or else their roots will rot.
It's best to buy second year crowns. They can be grown from seed, of course, but planting year old crowns advances the first harvest by at least an entire year. Plant the crowns in furrows about six inches deep about a foot apart. If you plan on having more than one furrow, give plenty of space -- five feet is a good rule -- since asparagus spreads. When you place the crowns into the furrows, you don't need to worry about whether the crowns are right side up. They will right themselves. Once you have the crowns set in the furrows, fill them completely with light soil. You don't want the furrow to compact. Don't over water your asparagus either; the plant is very drought-tolerant. They will send their roots deep, seeking moisture.
We won't harvest this young crown for at least another year, but its fun to watch them grow and they're beautiful as an ornamental when their tips open.
Each year we try to carry six packs of baby asparagus (we have some in stock right now) as well as clusters of second crowns. Supplies are limited.