I've been harvesting using the bend & snap method, (as opposed to cutting the spear at or below the soil line). Now I have bundles of stubs on my plants. When I am done harvesting, (which will be any day now) should I just leave them be, or shear everything to the ground for a "clean slate"? Thanks~
Hi, I'm glad you're asking about this, because I'm not really sure of the answer myself. Here at home we have been using culinary shears to cut the asparagus as needed. And like you, our plants have "stubs" now.
From what I have read, asparagus growers cut their asparagus below the soil line and the majority of home growers tend to cut above the soil line. To clarify what to do with above the ground "stubs" I will have to ask an asparagus expert and post back their answer ^_^ Stay tuned...
Okay, according to asparagus expert, Scott Walker (http://www.walkerplants.com), we should get rid of and remove the dried, dead stubble. Scott says, "The stub that is left, if you are snapping, is a place for disease and insects to start."
I'll have to remove our stubs too. It may be a bit difficult to do with so much new growth nearby. We still plan on harvesting by cutting or snapping because it is more convenient than cutting the asparagus spears below the soil surface.
When is the proper time to stop harvesting? I have heard to stop after six weeks of harvest. I have also heard that you should stop after most new spears are 1/4 inch or smaller in diameter. Last year I stopped six weeks after I started regular harvesting and later I thought I had stopped too soon.
Asparagus expert Scott D Walker (formerly of Jersey Asparagus Farms, now Walker Brothers, Inc http://www.walkerplants.com) was kind enough to share more of his expertise on when to harvest your asparagus.
The asparagus roots will start to run out of energy as the season goes on. When this happens Walker says, “The spears start to get skinnier and the tips might start to open quicker (maybe at 4-5 inches tall rather than 8 inches tall)." He added, "This is a sign that the roots are low in reserves and it’s about time to stop harvesting.” Generally this happens after 6 to 8 weeks of harvesting a asparagus that is established for at least three years.
Here is a summary of Mr. Walker's suggestions of When to Harvest your Asparagus: Keep in mind that weather can change everything, so be prepared to adapt accordingly
Year 1 - planting year - none
Year 2 - if fern reached 4 feet tall or more in previous year then harvest for 7 - 10 days. If it did not reach 4 feet the do not harvest this year.
Year 3 - if harvested last year then harvest for 4 - 5 weeks. If you did not harvest last year then harvest for 3 weeks
Year 4 - if harvested for 4 -5 weeks in previous year, then go full season of 6 - 8 weeks. If harvested for 3 weeks in previous year then harvest for 5 - 6 weeks this year
Year 5 - full season for everyone.
Happy Gardening and thanks again for your inquiries on growing asparagus,