Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

There's a way to extend the cutting season for Asparagus. Prune the plants after they flower, top up the nutrients to encourage them to re-grow and cut again for the pot.

This system can deliver fresh shoots three times in the course of the summer.

This year I have left some young stems which so far are not showing signs of flowering. Usually I clear fell, but observation suggests not all stems are going to flower.

Contrast above in the same two bins with the jungle of stems before pruning:

Snag with flowering is that a couple of weeks after the flowers appear, fruits set. They rapidly mature and next thing you know, there are little red berries and you have self-seeded Asparagus plants 'everywhere'.

To get decent stems to pick, the plants need lots of nutrients and water. Having volunteer plants hither and yon means those plants miss out and really become a 'weed'.

Another tweak would be to cut the stems off just under the first leaves, chopping up or mulching the leafy part and leaving the stem stump to still make food for the plant.

It's handy to have a mulcher. I put the mulched stems back on the soil with some added rock minerals and prunings of the Lucerne (Alfalfa) which I grow in the same pots as the Asparagus. The little mulcher is of oriental persuasion which has done sterling work for us for several years. Recently I had the blades turned around and it whirrs away merrily once again. Though with Asparagus and other high water-content prunings, the discharge chute needs regular clearing unless you can find some drier material to mulch together with the Asparagus. After whirring:

With these young plants - been in the ground about 1 year - I have tied them back to keep them from flopping about. They are in a Hills wicking bin which is a narrow, deep container. In general the stems do need support especially in a small garden where passage-ways are restricted.

The other Asparagus plants are 3 to a 200L wicking bin. Ideally they would be only 2 in that sized container had I more spare bins.

Flowers from green Asparagus are yellow and flowers from the purple Asparagus are this colour:

There are a total of 14 plants of 4 varieties not all of which are producing edible stems yet. The oldest by about 10 years is Connover's Colossal a heritage variety grown from seed. Then there's some hybrid seedlings bought from a commercial plant shop. There's the purple seedlings bought from Diggers and the latest plants were 6 minute babies from a con artist on eBay. They are growing well now. Six plants fitted in an ordinary letter envelope with room to spare. You could say I was not a happy camper.

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Comment by Mary-Ann Baker on Monday

oh my I am so jealous an great to know they actually do grow - have an old bath set up as a wicking bed for them - bought 4 different lots of asparagus seeds from different sources and have no success with any of them !!! did see some asparagus in Bunnings yesterday near Susans - was tempted didnt know how well i would do sitting in the hot car so was supposed to go back after - it was such a great GV didnt get time !!!! 

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