I'm an American expat living and gardening in Thailand.....very tropical over here!!
This last Oct, I ordered some asparagus seeds, UC-72 and a few Jersey Knights. I grew them as seedlings, starting in celpots, then to half litre bags and now in half gallon bags and planted some in raised beds.
I do have a few questions re growing asparagus in the tropics, as most info I can get on the www is growing in cool climates.
1] will they go into dormancy, or should I artifically induce it by cutting them back, stopping water or should I just let them grow??
2] being in the tropics seems to be speeding their maturity up, as I now have pencil sized spears @ 8 months, so can i harvest early if spear size gets to finger size??
3] when and how long should my harvest last??
4] how will they respond to chicken poop with litter mixed in?/ I planted them into raised beds with cow poop, but source of cow poop has run out.
5] and how long can I leave them in bags?? the roots are alrady trying to escape. and will it stunt them for the future if confined??
Thanks in advance for any answers to my ??
Tropical Asparagus growing
I'm an American expat living and gardening in Thailand.....very tropical over here!!
Hi, I live in the Virgin Islands, not as tropical as where you are! I have some asparagus in pots, and they hate me. They want to be in the ground up north. But anyway, supposedly they need to go dormant, try letting some get dry enough to go brown and die, then water again. Mine, due to neglect(BAD ME!) have dried up several times in the past three years, and have 'come back' but not much bigger.
I'm thinking that maybe they could be short-lived asparagus in tropical places, without any dormancy. In cold places they live 25 years or more, no?
I had to buy 25 roots, oof, so I have too many crammed into 3 gallon pots.
They have monster roots up north, I tried to move a mature row once, and quit before finishing digging up one plant. Being confined stunts them. Bonsai asparagus? haha
So, from my experience, I would keep some growing, do the dry 'thing' with one, to see what happens, over the years(!) and put the rest in the ground, or huge pots, like, a bathtub for each plant. Like Brugmansias, I doubt they could be over fed or watered.
None of this is from any source but my own struggles over three years. Let's keep this up, I dearly love asparagus! I believe they coud be a plant fountain year round, for a while, anyway.
Oh!, one more thing, I cut and nibble mine about halfway up the stem, once it's about a foot tall and getting tiny branches, so that the plant has about half a stem that's allowed to grow and mature. If I let the whole thing grow, they get six or seven feet tall, and fall over. I don't have visions of inch big sprouts in a big steaming pile on my plate. But I do get a good taste occasionally. Yes, you can eat them raw. But maybe those huge sprouts could happen...
I have to confess to nibbling mine occasionally, when the wife is not looking, as I told her to leave them grow for 2-3 yrs. I know what you mean by needing room to grow, as most of the books say. I way over-planted the seeds and got 100% germination and a land deal fell thru, so therefore they are sitting in bags. I did plant 2 rows in a well composted bed and the ones in the ground are almost 6 ft high, thus proving that they like root room.
re: over watering....the books also say that they do like/need good drainage or the roots will rot and I'm hoping that the upcomming monsoons won't drown them.
Will try to experimentally leave one pot unwatred and see what happens.....I can afford to loose one, as I have maybe 1,000 plants
Hahahaha! 1,000! Hahahaha, poor you! That's an awful burden! I thought I had too much to fiddle with.
I was just out watering pots , and noticed something about my Ginger Lilly. It's a wet-loving plant, and is bulging out of it's plastic pot something fierce. I don't particularly water it enough. It's been dryish for a while now, gotten pale and dried edges around the edges of the leaves, grouchy looking. You can see a root that's actually punched a hole in the pot!
A week ago I got seven inches of rain in one day. I went around pouring water out of most everything, but didn't empty the bucket that the G Lily's pot is in, there's only an inch of space around the pot inside the bucket. I just gave it some water, and noticed new growth. Perhaps Asparagus could enjoy this, dry spells, but not dry-to-death.
I'd punch lots of drain holes around the bottoms of the growbags for rainy season, or build some sort of makeshift roof to keep from losing nutrients from too much watering. Groan!
Asparagus is grown commercially near where I live. The climate is sub-tropical desert. I have a few plants which are in the ground and largely neglected. I think the commercial growers induce dormancy by not watering (or not much) during the summer.
There was a thread on this a year or so ago but it didn't add much information.
Asparagus is a heavy feeder and likes to put down deep roots. It seems logical (but what do plants know of logic) that they would respond to as much of an accomadation to these preferences as possible. You might make friends by sharing the plants with some people who are settled on their land.
As I recall (having a senior moment here) asparagus is also salt tolerant. I live right by the Sea of Cortez so my soil is salty. I started with a few plants I bought in San Diego several years ago and I get a few new plants each year from seeds that naturalize.
If I was more attentive I might get more to eat but I usually nibble a few raw while working in the garden and mostly enjoy the fronds. We have lots of birds and they are probably spreading the seed around the area.
Hope you are able to get some land soon and get them in the ground.
About the chicken poop I would compost it first so it doesn't burn the plants.
I'm always irked when seed companies list asparagus as only growing in northern zones. I've gone so far as to write to a few of them but nobody pays an attention. Including the asparagus.
KatieB, your dry season is summer? December-April here. (Seems to me, anyway)
We usually get rain (often torrentail) during hurricane season - late summer, early fall. Some years little to none. It is a desert. Most seasons are dry. Winter is cooler and the air is dryer than summer which is super hot and humid.
We inherited an asparagus patch when we moved here, but we weren't impressed at all. The plants produce all the time but they are very thin stalked, and you have to watch them like a hawk because they seem to go to seed very rapidly in our climate, and then plants pop up all over the place! We don't have the heavy crop that we used to get in the springtime in England, more a few here and there all year long, which we eat in the garden - it's not worth bring them in to cook.
We are slowly getting rid of our patch as the plants with their huge folliage takes up too much space in our garden....^_^
I have a row of 11 asparagus plants here in Nicaragua, started 3 years ago from seed. Each is now a clump about 14 inch in diameter with 30 or so spears. Yes they grow rapidly! Not knowing differently, I decided to harvest twice a year. They never go brown, so when I want a harvest, I whack the plants off at the soil, clear all the weeds away, put some chemical fertilizer down, then some rotted manure. I would think chicken poop is fine. Then it gets a thick layer of straw, and heavy irrigation if its in the dry season. In one week I harvest the spears. These were the UC72, too. A number turned out to be female, so think I will eliminate those and divide the male clumps. These grow so aggressively that you could maybe try 3 harvests a year.
I bought 20 asparagus crowns about 1 year ago, and planted them out in a wide double row. I let them grow and then cut them all off to the ground a month ago, at the beginning of September. I then fertilized them with Scotts lawn starter fertilizer ( for what ever reason, this stuff is magic for asparagus) and mulched them with compost. We have had 2 good meals of asparagus already, and the plants are very enthusiastically sending up new stalks. I harvest 5-6 stalks per day and refrigerate them until a meal's worth is built up. The stalks are thick and delicious! I was told that here in the subtropics, you should cut down your asparagus in the months that start with "A", April and August, for 2 crops.
I let each plant get at least 1 good stalk going before I harvest, to make sure the plant is thriving. Hope this helps!
Im in Houston TX and Im growing asparagus because I just love it. It is in a 4'X4' raised bed. I was told not to harvest the first two years or harvest lightly. I put in plants labeled "2 years old". Man, do they produce the foliage!! Im so glad you posted this thread. This is all helpful to me as I am in zone 9b. Last year the fronds did not all die but some did. Im glad to know about the April and August harvesting. I think that would work here for me as well. Do you think I could cut them back now and get a harvest before frost which is two months away or should I wait until say December and cut them down for re-growth in the spring?
Asparagus has been successfully grown commercially at sea level on Maui. By successful I mean the crop did well; did they make any money.... sadly, no.