Asparagus & Rhubarb

Asparagus & Rhubarb
Posted in: Lawn and Garden
It has come to our attention that many home gardeners and small growers are planting their asparagus roots dry and their rhubarb crowns too deep. Soak asparagus roots for several hours overnight in water prior to planting. Spears will appear in a matter of weeks after spring planting. Plant asparagus roots about a foot apart, in a trench. Begin by planting the crown about 2 inches deep and plan to add top soil over the crowns as the bed matures. Shallow crowns produce spindly asparagus spears and deep crowns grow shallower with each year’s growth. Rhubarb Rhubarb is a species of plant in the family Polygonaceae. Rhubarb crowns have to be planted shallow. At least 1/4 to 1/3 of the crown surface should be above ground level when properly planted. If the bud itself is below the soil line it may rot off and fail to grow. We have seen fall planted crowns frost, heave and roll around on the soil surface and still grow! This isn’t an ideal situation, but makes the point that a shallow crown will often grow and a crown planted below the surface almost certainly won’t. Organic gardeners should be aware that patience is a virtue. A seedbed freshly installed with lots of organic matter needs to age much like a fine wine. A bed prepared in the fall of the year and allowed to overwinter, so it has time to compost and form humus, will produce far better results than a bed that is thrown together and immediately planted into. A fresh bed is hotbed of microbial activity and the so-called beneficial compost organisms are likely to compost your rhubarb crown or asparagus root right along with the apple core you left in there. On the other hand, after your rhubarb or asparagus planting is well established, the addition of compost will be beneficial and will not harm the established rhubarb, asparagus or other crop.

Asparagus in the beginning stages of growth.
Asparagus in the beginning stages of growth. Asparagus can be picked for about 6 weeks in the spring of the year. In our area of southern Oregon, harvest begins in early April and goes through about May 15th. There are only a finite number of buds on the asparagus crown and if one keeps picking until all the buds have been harvested, the crown will die. Asparagus and rhubarb are very early crops and should be allowed to grow the first season without attempting to harvest until the next spring. Having your own home-grown rhubarb and asparagus is a terrific way to kick off the spring season!

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January 28, 2016
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