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Asparagus crown question

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Asparagus crown question

Post  llama momma on 5/22/2013, 6:13 pm

Do asparagus crowns throw both male and female spears???
When a spear opens up into a frond and blooms little flowers, proving itself a female, do I discard the individual spear or the entire crown it came from???

I am reading the females should be culled because she will throw seeds that will become a weed problem, she won't put much energy into developing spears for next year. The crowns were planted so close together it is often difficult to decide which crown the spear came from!

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  littlejo on 5/23/2013, 12:32 pm

Don't throw away the spears, they are still edible. Supposedly, the female plants will put more energy to making seed, rather than producing lots of spears.
I would get rid of all the females, except for 1. That way the 1 female plant will produce some seed for new young plants, which will produce spears down the road, unless you don't want any new plants.
You can wait til greenery is up, water well, then just pull up the plants that have blooms, that way no digging.
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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  llama momma on 5/23/2013, 2:35 pm

Thank you but the question remains, when I see a female spear in bloom does it indicate the entire crown will throw all females?? Thanks in advance.

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  littlejo on 5/23/2013, 3:36 pm

Yes, it is a female crown/plant. Several spears come up from 1 crown/plant.
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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  plantoid on 5/23/2013, 5:41 pm

I think I've posted in the forum that the loss of production is around 13 % from a female when compared to the male ones .

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  llama momma on 5/23/2013, 8:17 pm

Out of 38 crowns I think almost a third are female so far. Still waiting to see how some smaller spears develop. With 4 crowns per square its been a little difficult to tell which spears are coming from which crowns. Maybe make a little diagram to keep track. A little disappointing to pay for so many that will be culled. Even if I kept a few to produce future ones. Another learning curve opportunity I suppose Wink

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when to cover the asparagus

Post  southern gardener on 5/18/2014, 7:40 pm

Kind of tagging along on this post. I sort of don't get the male/female thing? To cull or not? Then the next question is this, I planted 14 days ago, and have 16 spears up. I planted 25 crowns. "They" say to cover with 2" of soil once the spears show up. Do I wait for all 25 to show up before covering, or cover now? The tallest is about 15". Some are only about 1-2" tall. Will all 25 crowns only throw up one spear each? 
I guess my overall question is, when to cover and how/should I cull the females, and how do I tell them apart?  

Thanks guys!!  Newbie here on Asparagus!!

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  mollyhespra on 5/18/2014, 10:33 pm

Well, my asparagus isn't in my SFG, so I'm not sure how much my 2-cents is going to help, but here it is:  every season, the plant produces new spears slightly higher (closer to the soil surface) than the previous' season's spears, so for maximum longevity, you want the crown to be planted pretty deep so that it remains productive for a long time. 

That being said, when i originally planted my row of asparagus, I just dug a deep (2 foot, IIRC) trench, enriched it with aged manure, compost, etc. and filled the whole thing in at one go.  The traditional method called for gradual burying as you noted in your post.  Recent research has shown that you can just bury the whole crown to the intended depth, and then wait...and wait...and wait some more...until the spears finally break ground.

SO...I imagine that if your spears still have a nice tight head you can just bury the whole lot without any harm done.  BUT if your spears have started to open up, it might damage the plant, but I don't know for sure.  It just makes sense that you wouldn't want to smother the tops if they're starting to leaf out.  You might have to wait until they die back to fill the squares up to their intended levels so that you don't have to worry about it next year. 

HTH & good luck!

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  southern gardener on 5/18/2014, 10:52 pm

Thank you.  Now I have more questions!! LOL  They're not in a SFG either. The spears were up in 11 days!! The issue is, some are about 18", some are 5-6", some are just poking through. Some are tight heads, some are already turning into the lacy looking stuff, so they're all over the place! I'm guessing I should just wait to cover when it looks like everyone is at the party??   LOL!!
Ty again, Molly, appreciate it! How are yours doing btw?

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  mollyhespra on 5/18/2014, 11:10 pm

You're welcome!

My asparagus is in two plantings.  The older one is producing spears nicely & I've been harvesting those.  Just had a "Spring Asparagus & Last Year's Shallot" omelet this morning for breakfast.  It was delicious!

My younger planting only started throwing up spears in the last 5 days or so, but they're none of them ready for harvest yet.  Getting there, but not yet.  I'm still waiting on 4 of the crowns to pop up.  Like you, they're all at different heights, but none of them are leafing out yet.   The tallest is maybe 4 inches.

Oh, and something else to keep in mind: don't be tempted to harvest your spears too soon.  Better to wait an extra year than to stunt your future prospects by depriving the plant of energy too soon.  I've let the spears get to roughly 1/2 inch thick before harvesting from a particular crown.  They don't all seem to grow/mature at the same rate.

Come to think of it, how does it work in your zone--do they go dormant for you at all?

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  southern gardener on 5/19/2014, 1:27 am

I don't know if they'll go dormant? I really have NO clue what I"m doing!  lol .  These are UC 157, supposed to be made for our area by the University of California. So, it sounds like NO harvesting, and wait to cover until all the spears are up?  Is that right? Then cover with 2-3 inches of compost?  Sorry for all the questions. I have looked online, and they really don't cover this part of the process, and I don't wanna mess it up!!  ty again!!

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Re: Asparagus crown question

Post  mollyhespra on 5/19/2014, 3:24 pm

I'm not sure how to answer your question, now...because of your zone.  I think you should call your local cooperative extension service or even the UofC ag. dept. to see what they can advise.  I'm afraid that what I'd do for my zone here up in the North may not be what your particular variety needs.   

I'm curious to see what they tell you.  Post back when you get the info?  I'm sorry I can't be of help here.  It's a very particular question.

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