asparagus stem thickness and feeding
How thick should the stems or shoots of asparagus planted this spring be at this time? If the stems are less than 1/8 inch in diameter should the plants now be fertilized? I planted 12 asparagus " crowns " this spring and 7 of the plants now have sent up stems or shoots. The stems range in height from about an inch to about 18 inches, but all of the stems are thin --- no more than about 1/8 inch diameter. How thick should they be at this time? Should I sprinkle some 10-10-10 fertilizer around the plants?
The first year of planting the growth sounds normal. The root system needs to develop and store food. Asparagus shoots or spears should not be harvested the first season after crowns are set. Begin harvesting lightly in years 2 (5 to 7 days of harvesting) and 3 (10 to 14 days of harvesting). From year 4 on the bed can be harvested for 8 to 10 weeks.
It would be okay to add about 1/2 to one inch of compost around the base of the plants to keep weeds down and this will slowly add organic matter and nutrients.
See our vegetable profile on asparagus for cultivation tips that include fertilizing and winter care. Keep the bed watered regularly and weeded carefully. http://extension.umd.edu/growit/vegetable-profiles-asparagus