Asparagus is a perennial crop that sends up shoots every year. The plant dies back in the fall and the root system can manage cold and freezing weather. Come spring, the root crowns send up new shoots. We eat the shoots that are tastefully known as asparagus.
I have clay soil and my asparagus grows fairly well. I planted it over 5 years ago and I get asparagus every year. Looking back, I should have prepared the soil a bit better as to make it more loose. A few bags of cheap soil would have been a nice addition.
I decided to move my large plots of asparagus over to my raised beds. Fall is the best time to transplant asparagus. The roots will have time to heal and grow and establish themselves before the spring. They will get about 120 days to rest before growing shoots in the spring.
The process is pretty simple. Dig out as much of the asparagus root system as you can. That will be a good 12 inch depth if you can manage. Prepare the transplant site by providing a good loose growing soil. Nothing fancy is needed. Double dig the spot. Take out 12 inches of soil and then dig the area another 12 inches deep to loosen the soil. The roots will enjoy growing down into the garden.
Asparagus Come Fall – The Rusted Garden Blog
Asparagus will brown and die back in the fall. Cut it down to about 6 inches before digging it up for transplant. You want to cut it back but leave enough of the stems so you know where to dig.
Asparagus Cut Back – The Rusted Garden Blog
Asparagus Division for Transplanting – The Rusted Garden Blog
Dig it to a depth of about 12 inches. Break the main clump up into 2 or 3 smaller clumps. Double dig the transplant site and drop in the asparagus.
Double Dug Asparagus Transplant Site – The Rusted Garden Blog
A Large Asparagus Clump Divided into Three – The Rusted Garden Blog
Dig out your spots and fill in the earth firmly around the clumps. You can keep the tops of the transplants level to the new planting area. That is, you don’t want over bury the tops of the root crown. You can drop it down about 2-3 inches if you want or mound some soil over the top of the transplant clump.
Asparagus Transplanted into My Raised Bed – The Rusted Garden
This is what the old spot now looks like.
The Old Asparagus Plot – The Rusted Garden Blog
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- Tips for Transplanting Asparagus
- Pulling Up the Asparagus Plants
- Divide the Asparagus Plants without Spoiling Them
- Planting the Transplanted Asparagus
- Caring for Transplanted Asparagus
- Hints for Harvesting Asparagus
- Transplanting Asparagus Seedlings and Crowns
- Growing asparagus
- About asparagus
- What to do
- Watch video
- Five to try
- A Helpful Guide to Transplanting Asparagus
- Reasons for Transplanting Asparagus
- When Should You Transplant Asparagus?
- How to Transplant Asparagus
Tips for Transplanting Asparagus
Asparagus can be transplanted at any time during its dormant period, as long as the ground isn’t frozen. And while many people like to undertake this task in the early spring, I’ve found that this causes the bearing season to be a bit delayed, at least as compared with that of those transplanted in the fall.
Actually, having the right tools (and using them carefully) will have a lot more to do with your success than will your decision as to whether to transplant in spring or autumn. You’ll need a shovel or spade, a garden fork, and a mattock. (If you don’t have a garden fork, you can make do with a shovel, but—since you’ll have to take a good bit of extra care not to bruise or to cut the roots’ tender tissue—using a shovel alone makes a long job seem downright endless. In addition, because a fork will allow some dirt to slip through its tines, that tool will be easier on your back.) A crowbar may also come it handy for loosening the larger clumps and—in anything but extremely sandy soil—a garden hose is useful during the final root-tracing-and-dividing process.
Pulling Up the Asparagus Plants
When you’ve found your source of transplants, don’t just start in shoveling, or you’re apt to cut the roots badly. Instead work on one clump at a time, and begin by inspecting the dead foliage from the previous year to determine the exact location of the crowns. These will be concentrated among the clusters of dried seed stalks, and must be treated with care. (After all, it’s the crowns that will send up edible spears the following spring.)
Working carefully, use the spading fork to “explore” a circle of ground that extends 6 to 12 inches from the outer edge of the group of dead stems. After you’ve determined how far the main mass of the root system reaches, you can use the shovel to dig a circle around it. This trench should generally be about one spade’s depth, but it’s best to check to see how deep the root structure goes and to dig accordingly.
You’ll have to continue working around the mass until you start to tunnel under the root system. You might as well accept the fact, however, that you won’t be able to get it all out intact. Rather, the object is to save as much of the “fat” root system as possible, because it contains the stored food that will help insure the plant’s survival. Many of the small, hairlike feeder roots will likely be accidentally stripped during the digging/ transplanting process, but the plant can replace some of these without suffering too much harm.
If the clump is relatively small, you might be able to loosen and lift it with the spading fork. An older mass, however, will often have to be pried out with the mattock, and a really large and/or overcrowded section may require a mattock, a crowbar, and all of the ingenuity you can muster. But whatever tool(s) you’re using, make sure that you work the implement under the roots instead of cutting through them or—worse still—slicing into the crowns. Once the tool is in place under the root mass, move around the trench—prying gently at a number of points—until the clump can be lifted out whole.
Sometimes the plants in an old bed may be too closely intertwined to remove by simple circling and lifting. In that case, your best bet will be to start at the end of a row or the corner of a bed, and use the spading fork, as before, to locate the edges of the tangled root clumps. Then, to find the dividing line between the intersecting roots of two adjacent systems, insert the fork—from the side—at a point about halfway between the clumps’ suspected centers and lift gently. If you’ve found the right spot, the ground will break above the tines as the two root masses pull apart. When you meet resistance, move a bit to one side and try again, always working from the edge toward the center, and inserting the tool gently to avoid damaging any roots. If you meet no resistance when prying, move in closer and try again.
Divide the Asparagus Plants without Spoiling Them
When the asparagus is finally out of the ground, you can begin to evaluate your prizes. If the soil is sandy, most of it will have fallen from the roots by this point, but clay may hang on and will have to be washed off before the untangling job can begin. (A gentle hosing will remove the dirt and cause less damage than would trying to shake or claw the earth off.)
A mature plant will have a large, healthy crown with, perhaps, some smaller crowns loosely connected to it. The roots will be large, too, but not tightly packed. When you’re fortunate enough to find an asparagus of this type, all you’ll have to do is pull away the extra plants before transferring it to its new home.
An overcrowded clump is altogether another story, though. It will likely be a real mess, with a lot of stunted plants jammed tightly together. The roots of one may even grow through the crown of another. In such a case, the transplanter pretty much has to settle for a salvage operation. When you can’t save all of the plants, you have to try for the best and sacrifice the rest.
Planting the Transplanted Asparagus
When your asparagus roots are cleared and separated, you’ll have to determine where to put them. (I’m sure that the plan-ahead types reading this will wonder why this point wasn’t brought up before, but there’s no way to know how many plants you’ll have to relocate until you actually dig them up!)
The commonly quoted rule of thumb says that you’ll want at least a half-dozen plants for each member of your family. (However, I think a full dozen apiece would be closer to the truth.) Your needs will vary, of course, according to how much your clan likes asparagus. Then again, if you want to preserve some, it’s best to plant extra, and hope that the to-be-saved-for-later spears don’t end up on the spring luncheon menu.
In choosing a suitable place to plant, remember that you may well be picking from that location for the next couple of decades. Since asparagus will grow in almost any kind of soil, though, the only type of plot you’ll have to avoid is one that retains excessive moisture.
It’s best to allow from 18 to 30 inches between plants in each row, and from 3 to 5 feet between rows. If your planting area is limited, you might try placing the root clumps at the corners of equilateral triangles with 18-inch sides, but don’t plant them any closer together than that, unless you want to redo the whole thing in a couple of years!
If you’re concerned about your asparagus taking up too much of your garden plot, you can use the open spaces between your root clumps to grow annual vegetables for a few years. (Carrots, turnips, spinach, radishes, beets, and kohlrabi are good choices for this.) Just don’t place these “guests” so close that they interfere with the development of the permanent crop, because asparagus has to have a lot of breathing room. Always keep in mind that while this perennial can easily become crowded, there’s no way you can get its shoots too far apart, because they don’t require cross-pollination. Individual asparagus plants can even be scattered throughout an orchard or in flowerbeds.
If you want to plant the roots in groups, dig an 18- to 24-inch-deep bed. Otherwise, just prepare individual holes. Next, spread about 6 inches of well-rotted manure or compost in the bottom of the hole/trench/ bed, and cover it with a layer of dirt. The thickness of this soil layer will, of course, depend upon the size of the root system, but be sure to make the final level of the ground about 3 inches above the asparagus crowns. (Small plants may have only a few thin roots to be arranged horizontally on top of a thick layer of soil. A mature one, however, may have a 6-inch root mass extending down from its crown.)
Once the plant is placed in the depression, sift earth over it gently, keeping the roots spread out widely, pack this soil down firmly but carefully, then water the asparagus, and wait. (If you plant in the fall, it’s best to cover the crop with leaves or litter, which you should remove in the spring.)
Caring for Transplanted Asparagus
By moving older plants, you can bypass the early, unproductive years and enjoy a full harvest the following spring. However, you’ll also have to watch for overcrowding much sooner than you would with a “new” bed. If the spears start getting smaller with the passing years, the clumps should probably be divided once again. For the most part, asparagus does an excellent job of taking care of itself, although it will appreciate water during dry periods, as well as an occasional top-dressing of manure when the plants are dormant. (You should also keep the ground loose around the young shoots at all times, and cultivate to a depth of 1 inch to keep down the weeds.)
Hints for Harvesting Asparagus
And just how will you know when your asparagus is ready to harvest? Well, surprisingly enough, the plants themselves will tell you. Seedlings put up only fernlike leaf stalks, you see, while a yearling patch may produce tiny spears. (The thin ones—smaller around than a pencil—are certainly edible, but they may be a bit stringy.) When you decide that your shoots are big enough for eating, be aware that careless cutting can injure or destroy undeveloped spears that are still below the ground. One good way to harvest is simply to snap off the stalks by bending them across your index finger with your thumb. In addition, don’t ever cut the mature leaf stalks until after the first frost, as they perform the photosynthesis that gives this wonderful vegetable the strength to feed you year after year.
Transplanting Asparagus Seedlings and Crowns
Growing and Transplanting Asparagus Seedlings
Start asparagus seeds 12 to 14 weeks before transplanting seedlings into the garden. Start the seeds in trays in the greenhouse or under a grow lamp indoors. Plant seeds ½ inch (1.3cm) deep in soil mix in cells as small as 1.5 by 1.5 inches (3.8 by 3.8cm) by 2 inches (5cm) deep, planting one seed per cell.
Keep the seeds damp and within a temperature range of 75ºF to 85ºF (23.8ºC to 29.4ºC) for up to three weeks until seeds germinate. Once the seedlings are growing, reduce the temperature to 70ºF-75ºF (21.1ºC to 23.8ºC) during the day and 60ºF to 65ºF (15.5ºC to 18.3ºC) at night.
When seedlings are between 12 to 14 weeks old after germinating, they are ready for transplanting into the garden, as long as outdoor temperatures are above 50ºF (10ºC).
In the asparagus bed, dig trenches approximately 16 inches (40.6cm) wide and 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20cm) deep and long enough to space the transplants approximately 10 to 18 inches (25.4 to 45.7cm) apart. At the bottom of the trench, form a mound of soil running the length of the trench to keep seedlings slightly elevated above the bottom.
Gently place the seedling on top of the mound, and fill in soil around them until it is slightly higher than the depth to which the seedling was previously planted. Water thoroughly and tend the growing plants as needed.
Transplanting Asparagus Crowns from Mature Plants
Asparagus is a slow growing plant which takes four years to produce harvestable shoots when grown from seed. However, you can also start asparagus from one year old crowns or transplant mature roots from one garden to another or from a wild asparagus source.
To transplant mature asparagus crowns:
- Dig up the roots in early spring when the plants are still dormant and the soil is moist.
- Use a garden fork for loosening the root mass, and carefully separate and trim individual crowns.
- Prepare the new asparagus bed in advance, then place the crowns on a mound of compost at the bottom of the trench, taking care to spread the roots out in all directions and cover with soil.
- Be sure the pointed bud end of the crown is facing upward when planting.
Let most of the shoots grow into ferns the first year, lightly harvesting spears for eating until the plants are established in their new home.
Jersey Knight Asparagus flowers
Jersey Knight Asparagus flowers
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Jersey Knight Asparagus flowers
Jersey Knight Asparagus flowers
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Height: 4 feet
Spread: 30 inches
Hardiness Zone: 2a
Feathery blue-green foliage, large succulent spears, a high producing variety; let foliage stand over winter to insulate crowns and manufacture food for a better crop, cut back in spring; fusarium resistant, enrich soil with compost
Jersey Knight Asparagus is a perennial vegetable plant that is typically grown for its edible qualities. The stems are usually harvested from mid to late spring. The stems have a pleasant taste.
The stems are most often used in the following ways:
Planting & Growing
Jersey Knight Asparagus will grow to be about 4 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 inches. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 15 years.
This plant is typically grown in a designated vegetable garden. It does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This particular variety is an interspecific hybrid.
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Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, which makes it good for growing on plots where it will not be disturbed. However, it does take a long time to grow to maturity, so make sure you are planning to stay a while to see the fruits of your labour.
For a decent crop, asparagus needs to be given lots of space and is ideal for a large garden or allotment. It thrives in sun and well-drained soil, but needs some protection from the wind. Alternatively, grow in a raised bed. Asparagus is not suitable for containers, and will sulk if planted in heavy clay soils or in a shady spot.
What to do
- Asparagus plants can remain productive for up to 20 years, so it’s worthwhile spending time on preparing the bed to give them a flying start in life.
- If you can, start in autumn by digging over thoroughly, mixing in plenty of well-rotted farmyard manure, and removing all perennial weeds.
- A week or so before planting, scatter some general fertiliser granules over the area (about 90g/sq m is ideal) and fork in, before raking the ground level.
How to plant
- You will need about an hour to plant 10 crowns. Make a straight trench, 30cm wide by 20cm deep, and then pour soil down the length of the trench to make a 10cm high mound.
- Next, carefully take your asparagus crowns and sit them on top of the mound, spreading the roots out either sides – plant crowns 30cm apart and then cover with about 5cm of soil, which has been sifted through a riddle or sieve.
- Cover the plants with more sifted soil as the stems grow, aiming to completely fill the trench by autumn. Subsequent rows should be spaced 30cm apart.
- Water newly planted crowns thoroughly and keep damp during dry weather. Succulent spears may appear soon after planting, but avoid the temptation to harvest them or you’ll weaken the crowns.
- During their first two years of growth, plants should be left to form lots of ferny foliage – cut down the stems in autumn, leaving 5cm stumps above the ground.
- To prevent competition, keep beds free of weeds.
- Most plants are ready to be picked two years after planting, although several modern varieties have been bred for earlier cropping.
- To harvest spears, wait until they’re about 12cm long and remove them with a serrated knife, cutting them off 7cm beneath the soil.
- Stop harvesting in mid-June to allow the plant to build up its energy for next year, and give plants an extra boost by feeding with a general fertiliser.
Watch Toby Buckland plant asparagus.
Five to try
- Gijnlim – heavy crops one year after planting
- Jersey Giant – dark green spears with a purple head
- Jersey Knight Improved – thick, but tender spears
- Purple asparagus of Alberga – Italian heritage variety with purple spears
- Backlim – thick, green spears
When I first left home, my mother would send bundles of asparagus and six carefully wrapped, freshly laid eggs in the post throughout the brief season. (Only rarely did they break. She is the queen of mail.) She had rescued two overgrown and much neglected asparagus beds when we moved and poured in so much love in the form of muck, weeding and asparagus-beetle-squishing that we all gorged ourselves silly on the stuff. For years, I willed a package to appear every April, but those beds belong to someone else now and I have my own.
There are many lessons from this, but the first is it is entirely possible to revitalise a tired patch with a mulch of good compost and some weeding. Asparagus truly likes only its own company and wants its roots in cool, deep, well-drained soil. This is best done by adding as much organic matter as you can every year in the form of mulch. Repeat this in autumn and again after harvesting in early summer.
Weeding should be done by hand and not a hoe, as you can easily disturb the emerging crowns in spring. Once you pick your first spikes they will continue to grow back: harvest them for up to eight weeks, after which they become too tough. It’s wise to offer some support for rapidly growing top growth. If this rocks about in the wind it will damage the crowns and next year’s harvest.
The second lesson is that an asparagus bed is a wonderful inheritance. Yes, it takes several years to establish and another lot again to get truly prolific, but isn’t that a good gesture to pay forward? An asparagus bed can easily last over 20 years or more if cared for. The cheapest way is with seed: Connover’s Colossal is the standard and can be sown now, direct into the ground. It’s easier than you may imagine, but you are at least five years away from any sort of harvest. Still, sow thick and you can replant the thinnings for cut flowers, leaving the strongest and healthiest to mature for future suppers. Male plants produce more spears; any that produce berries are female and can be weeded out.
The other option is to buy ready-to-plant crowns that are sent out this month till mid-May from all the major seed catalogues. Crowns should be planted in rich, organic soil. Usually this is done by making a trench 30cm wide, 20cm deep, filling it with compost and planting on a ridge, 10cm high, down the middle. Place the crown on the ridge with the spidery roots either side. They should be 30-45cm apart with 45cm between rows. Cover the crowns with compost and water in well. Do not harvest the spears for the first two years.
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One of the most nutritious, ornamental and anticipated early spring vegetables is asparagus (Asparagus officinalis). This Mediterranean native has just 20 calories a serving, with high doses of vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorus and iron. Nothing tastes as fresh and sweet, even when eaten right out of the garden, as do these beautiful green stems.
The Romans were responsible for taking wild asparagus and cultivating it into an edible form 2,000 years ago. Asparagus traveled through Europe during the Renaissance, and as early as 1670, “forced asparagus” (harvested earlier than usual) was sold in London markets. Its appearance has changed over the years from skinny, tall, narrow stems (much like the wild type) to the fatter, thicker stems that were popular in the eighteenth century.
Asparagus is a sun-loving, hardy, long-lived perennial with creeping rhizomes and upright stems that appear in early spring as fleshy shoots (the part we eat). Chicago weather is ideal for growing asparagus. Since well-drained, fertile soil is a must, hard clay soils should be amended in fall with compost, or asparagus can be planted in raised beds.
It takes five years for a planting to become mature. Since asparagus plants can live for more than 20 years, site them where they can grow undisturbed, such as at the end or border of a vegetable garden. Plants can be male or female, with male plants bearing the best and most flavorful crops. New gardeners might want to choose crowns (or plants) of one of the newer male hybrids. These hybrids can be lightly harvested one year earlier than heirloom varieties or those grown from seed (wait three years before cutting those).
Asparagus is a cool-season crop best planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Dig a trench 8 inches deep and long enough to accommodate a standard order of 12 to 25 crowns. Place one-year-old crowns in a trench 8 inches deep and 15 inches apart, fanning the roots in all directions. Cover with no more than 4 inches of soil. When ferny foliage pokes through, add the remainder of the soil. Leave 40 to 48 inches between rows. At the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, asparagus crowns are spaced 24 inches apart.
Make a very light harvest, lasting only one to two weeks, of newly planted crowns during their second year. Plants that are three years old can be harvested for three weeks, and four-year-old plants can be harvested for six weeks. A five-year-old mature patch can be harvested for 10 weeks, from late April to mid-June. Asparagus harvested after this 10-week window will be bitter and tough.
Harvest when the stems are 8 to 10 inches tall and the tips are tightly closed. Asparagus can be snapped off by hand, cut with a knife or removed with an asparagus fork, all at ground level. A 1-foot row will yield a pound of asparagus.
After harvest, the stems will continue to grow between 4½ to 6 feet tall and the plant will form ferny leaves. The next year’s crop depends on the foliage staying healthy during summer and fall. Mulch and water these plants during dry spells.
Asparagus varieties can be white, green or purple (turns green in cooking). White asparagus results from covering or blanching the plants with either soil or a basket as they grow. By blocking sunlight from reaching the stems, chlorophyll doesn’t form and the stems remain white. These sweet, soft stems are very popular in Europe (and very expensive at the market).
Visit the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden in early to mid-April to see the different stages and varieties of recommended asparagus, including the following cultivars: ‘Mary Washington’, ‘Jersey Knight’, and ‘Purple Passion’.
SERIES 17 | Episode 19
A favourite vegetable is Asparagus officinalis. It’s a perennial, in the lily family and it lives for up to 30 years. You often see it in abandoned farmhouses; and it just keeps growing and producing. There are male and female Asparagus plants. The males have better quality spears and the females produce little red berries in autumn. Collect the berries when they’re ready to produce seed and sow them. They take about two or three years to become strong. Many people have never seen Asparagus growing but it is dead easy.
Asparagus likes deep, friable, rich soil. If you’ve got heavy, clay soil, you’ll need to mound the plants up or dig in plenty of organic matter so that it becomes nice and well drained. They love soil with a pH of about 6.5 to 7. Dig a deep trench, about 75cm, for the long roots – the deeper the better. Then add organic matter. Asparagus is very hungry and needs plenty of organic matter such as cow manure, sheep manure, or old chook poo. Scatter it thickly down the bottom of the trench because they will absolutely lap that up.
An economical way to grow Asparagus is by seed, or with seedlings. If you do grow them that way then after planting leave for about two or three years for a strong root system to develop. Don’t pick any of the crop, just let it grow naturally. Another way to grow them is by using the Asparagus crown, with its long, fleshy roots. The crown of the Asparagus is where the spears will grow.
To plant the crown, make a little mound, like an anthill, at the bottom of the trench. Sit the roots of the crown nicely on top of the mound. Plant about 40cm apart. If the roots are damaged cut them back because they are quite fleshy and will come again easily. Dig one hole and plant an Asparagus into that or plant a couple of Asparagus crowns into a big pot. Water well, once planted, so the air pockets get away from the roots. Then in spring, little shoots will appear. Side and top dress with blood and bone.
Apart from slugs and snails in spring there are few pests and diseases that trouble this plant. When Asparagus is about four years old the fronds will have produced good, thick, strong roots and a good plant. They will then go yellow in autumn and that’s the time to cut them back to ground level. The Asparagus bed will be bare until spring, and then spears of Asparagus will pop up all over the place.
Asparagus is high in potassium, great for fibre, low in salt, and a terrific, healthy vegetable to grow. There is nothing nicer than growing your own crop and taking it fresh to the table.
A Helpful Guide to Transplanting Asparagus
Transplanting asparagus is difficult, but worth it for the best growth from your plants. Transplanting asparagus should be done when the crown is dormant. Use a garden shovel to feel around each asparagus plant for roots. Once you can get under the root system, gently pull up until the plant is free.
Untangle roots using your hands or a garden fork, being careful not to cut the roots. Then, you’re ready to plant your asparagus in its new location with loose, well-draining soil, plenty of sun, and adequate space that will keep your plants healthy for two decades of growth.
Reasons for Transplanting Asparagus
If you move into a new home and don’t want to leave your established asparagus plants behind, you might want to transplant your asparagus plants to a garden at your new home.
Photo by Daderot licensed under CC0 1.0.
More importantly, some gardeners choose to transplant asparagus to better locations within their own gardens as their plants become more established and need extra care. The first garden plot you choose may not always be the best one for asparagus, since they need loose soil, plenty of sun, and an area free of any disturbances from other plants or gardening.
Experts advise not transplanting asparagus unless you feel you must, to give them a better location.
When Should You Transplant Asparagus?
Asparagus should not be transplanted at random times through the year. The plant lays dormant until spring. It’s best to transplant your asparagus during its dormant season, before its root system – or crowns – begin to sprout again. This will help you avoid a tangled root system that can make your asparagus even more difficult to transplant.
However, Mother Earth News suggests that you can transplant in the fall if you don’t mind taking on a stronger root system. This tends to yield the most production from your plants, while spring transplanting can delay the process.
How to Transplant Asparagus
More so than many other plants, you will need the right tools to complete the process of transplanting asparagus. Since their root systems are so difficult to break through, heavy duty tools will help you complete the process successfully.
Most gardeners will benefit from using a shovel and a garden fork. You also may want to use a garden hose toward the end of the process to help hose off clumped soil from the roots so you can more easily break them apart.
Make sure that you also have compost available for when you move the asparagus plants to their new location. Your asparagus plants’ new spot should be weed-free and with prepared soil before you transplant.
Finding the Root System
The most difficult part of transplanting asparagus is dealing with the roots. These strong, massive root systems entangle themselves and the soil they’re in, which can prove to be difficult when you try to dig up your asparagus plants for transplanting.
You’ll want to be careful about how you dig into the ground near your plants so you don’t hurt the root system. First, look for the dead foliage from last year’s plants to help you find the location of each crown in the soil.
Make a large circle in the soil with your shovel going around the dead foliage, but without prodding the shovel around too much so that you chance cutting the roots. Continue to shovel until you can get underneath the crown.
Once you are well under the root system, it’s best to use your garden fork to pull up the plant, trying to keep as much of the root system intact as possible. For more extensive root systems, you may need to continue following the roots in the ground and digging around them to avoid harming them.
Break Up the Plant Roots
Since you’ll likely pull up several entangled asparagus plants, you’ll need to break them apart before you transplant them. This will allow each plant to thrive with their newly-separated root systems.
Untangle roots much as you would a string of Christmas lights, with a little extra force for heftier root systems. Try to save as many plants as you can, but it’s likely that some smaller ones won’t survive the untangling process. In that case, work toward saving the healthiest, most established root systems.
To help you see the root systems more clearly, you may want to gently spray the roots with a garden hose to remove clumps of soil. Shaking or scraping off the soil isn’t recommended, as this could damage the crowns or plants.
This video from ehowgarden demonstrates how to gently break apart your asparagus plants’ root systems:
Choose the Best Spot
Asparagus needs excellent, loose soil for its extensive root systems to grow. It also needs sun and a well-draining location, so make sure that your new garden area or bed is adequate to meet the precise needs of your transplanted asparagus.
An important thing to remember is that asparagus can survive for two decades. Make sure your new location is the perfect one to keep your asparagus in for that long, as frequent transplanting can harm your plants.
You’ll need large, wide areas for each of your saved asparagus plants to accommodate their root systems. Make sure you have enough space in your garden area to plant each one at least 18 to 30 inches apart to avoid further root entanglement and competition.
Replanting Your Asparagus Plants
After you’ve dug up your plants and prepared the new location, you’re ready to replant your asparagus. First, add compost to the bottom of each of your dugouts for the new plants and then mound up some soil.
Place an asparagus crown on top of a mound, allowing the roots to fall over the sides of the mound. The roots for each plant should be spread widely for adequate growth, and the pointed end of the asparagus plant should be facing up.
Move the soil back over the crown and roots, packing it down firmly over the roots. Thoroughly water your plants, leaving the soil moist.