clarification on what year asparagus is in
I planted asparagus rhizomes last year and left them alone. I believe they were 1 year old crowns. I've read multiple articles on asparagus harvesting and none of them are written clearly enough to convey what year my asparagus can first be harvested. For example, from your website: "In the third year of growth, after planting one year old crowns, spears of plants will be ready for asparagus harvesting. During this initial harvest year (year three), plants should only be harvested the first month of optimum production." Does this mean I can harvest asparagus for a few weeks this year, i.e., the "third" year of the asparagus' life? OR does this mean I can harvest asparagus for a few weeks next year, i.e., the fourth year of the asparagus' life, which is the "third" year since planting the rhizomes? OR does this mean I can harvest asparagus for a few weeks two years from now, i.e., the fifth year of the asparagus' life, which is the "third" year "after planting 1-year old crowns?" Also, when do I reach "optimum production," should I let the first spears separate on top and harvest the spears that come up in greater numbers later? Or will letting the first spears separate prevent more spears from growing after them? I realize this is a confusing question, but I haven't been able to sort it out from reading. The more I read, the more confusing it gets. Also, I haven't found a single site that goes into detail beyond planting instructions and the warning about not harvesting for several years. Please advise, any simple straightforward answer will be much appreciated. Details: I planted ten 1-yr old crowns last spring, now I have a few spears coming up here and there, but nothing more than 2-3 plants showing spears. One was a foot high and thick, one was skinny and 8 inches high, and another plant is putting up multiple spear heads that haven't grown more than a few inches yet. Also, is there anything I definitely shouldn't do? All the best, Fletcher
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
The third year is counted from the time you plant the crowns in their new location, counting the year in which you plant as year 1. That means next year will be the third year for you, and you can harvest for about 2 weeks to 1 month next year. This year, just let them grow and turn into "ferns" (the tall plants that have separated on top).
The way to tell when to stop harvesting is that the spears will get skinnier and skinnier. When most of them are pencil-thin, you should stop harvesting and let them grow into "ferns".
After the third year, you can harvest for about 4 to 8 weeks, depending on how quickly the spears shrink in diameter. During the harvest season, harvest all the spears, because allowing some of them to turn into "ferns" may decrease production, as you've guessed.
Here is a site with more helpful information: