I was asked the other day, “Why didn’t my asparagus come up, I planted it four weeks ago?” Of course, I wasn’t sure how to answer because I didn’t see the crowns they bought, how lively they were, the area where they were set out, how deep they were planted, the soil they were planted in, etc. The only asparagus crowns I have seen in town this year were dried up and I remember thinking, “Wow, I doubt that those crown-lings would have any life in them.”
When preparing to plant asparagus roots, you have two options. The crowns that you can purchase at the store or through a mail-order catalog are called one-year roots. They were started from seed last year and have one year’s growth on them. Usually this is a very good way to start an asparagus bed, just be sure that the roots looks round and firm and that the crown has lots of short, round points. If the roots are mostly flat, then the plant probably will not grow (it is already dead). Sometimes the crown is even already sending up a miniature asparagus less than 1/8 inch in diameter. Now that would be an excellent root to buy. Asparagus produces on its 3rd year, so it is nice to get a head start and buy the roots.
If you would like an inexpensive way to have a large bed of asparagus then buy a seed packet and start your own. We did this several years ago and ended up with 1500 plants. I started the seeds in a small tray on a heat pad. I think every seed must of came up. That first year I planted and planted, I ended up planting them 3 inches apart in five 50-foot rows. Oh my, I thought I’d never get done.
We transplanted and gave away plants out of that bed for years. When we started our permanent asparagus bed I wanted to be like “the big boys” and be able to rototil right over the top of them every year, so we planted them in trenches 3 feet deep. It was a ton of work. Since then we have discovered that a large post hole digger is much easier if you want them that deep. Just punch out your hole, drop some amenities (like a cupful of rabbit dressing) in the bottom of the hole, cover with a couple inches of dirt and set your asparagus crown down in the hole. Only cover the crown with about an inch of dirt; then as it grows you can slowly fill in the hole until the ferny plant reaches the soil line. After that first year the plant will come up on its own sometime in the end of April. Each Spring, be sure to rototil over the top early in the season. As the plant gets older the crown moves closer to the surface and you will not be able to do this nice clean up trick.
I don’t know why their asparagus didn’t come up but who knows? If they keep waiting it may come up yet; asparagus has been know to do that. 🙂