Should I Let My Asparagus Form Seeds?

by Daisy on 10/15/2013

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They’re pretty, but should I strip them off?

I planted male hybrid asparagus but apparently some females crept in somehow and I have seeds.  Some sources say the seeds sap the strength from the plants and should be removed. Actually, they say the entire plant, having proven her femininity by bearing fruit, needs to be removed because females are less productive than males. I needn’t clarify I mean female asparagus plants are less productive, because we all know this characteristic is seldom true of the female of any other species.

Indeed, many report even female asparagus plants produce just fine as well, perhaps not as prolifically as an all-male planting, but good enough.

I’m leaning toward letting them be.

Cue Paul McCartney.

 

 



{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

angela k October 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I let mine be and I have more than enough asparagus for my family of 5. I have no intentions of freezing extra. I just want enough to eat during the season.

I let mine go helter skelter. Haha.

Brent October 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

In rural Wisconsin where I grew up, asparagus continues to grow and seed on farms that have been abandoned for many decades. Asparagus is not a plant that exhausts itself with seed production; typically that sort of behavior belongs to annuals.

Debbie Cowling October 16, 2013 at 5:40 am

We never do anything to our asparagus plants except try to remove weeds and have had lots of asparagus for many years. I live in Ontario, Canada

Lindsay October 16, 2013 at 6:58 am

I figure I will keep at least one, in case there is a huge asparagus apocalypse and crowns are no longer available for purchase. I bought an all-male variety too, but haven’t checked for fruit recently. I just can’t see that it would be that much less, right? Plus, if it seeds, then it will help fill in. Seeds are always useful.

Lara October 16, 2013 at 7:06 am

So I have two questions? 1) how much space do Asparagus need to grow? 2) how difficult is it?

My family loves Asparagus and I’d love to grow some but have always been intimitated by it, partly because I’ve heard it takes 3 years to grow before you can harvest it.

Daisy October 16, 2013 at 7:30 am

Lara–Recommendations for conventional (as opposed to raised-beds) gardens are 18 inches apart in rows 5 feet apart. For raised beds, the common rule of thumb is 1 crown per square foot. The difficulty is generally in the bed preparation; once established they are pretty low-maintenance and problem-free. There are lots of great guides on the net. Here is my post from when I first planted mine: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2011/03/asparagus.html and an update: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2011/03/asparagus-update.html
Do it! You won’t regret it!

Daisy October 16, 2013 at 7:31 am

Lindsay–I like the way you think.

Daisy October 16, 2013 at 7:32 am

Brent–Good. I like that.

Daisy October 16, 2013 at 7:33 am

Debbie Cowling–They must like the cold. Resilient plants.

KimH October 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I’ve had a small asparagus patch for years and it produces seeds which I leave on the fern for my feathered friends.. Some to fall & make it to the ground & it reseeds itself.. Some of it germinates.. and some does not.. Trust me.. a few seeds isnt gonna hurt your asparagus.

Lara.. just set out a few roots.. it’ll just grow tall & doesnt move around too much.. I just planted a new bed this year.. I planted mine about 1 foot apart in the row and left about 2 feet between rows.. Its not a lot…4 packages, but it’ll be enough to eat lots of asparagus one of these days..
And time will still pass by whether you plant them or not.. The sooner they’re planted, the sooner you can start eating them! :)

Jennifer October 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I would not only let them be, but be happy to start seeds from them as well. They may differ some in character from the parent plants since they are from hybrids but they might come up with good characteristics. Unless you really need the space for something more productive, let them be.

Barbara Dyjak October 17, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Our asparagus has been established for several years, but we never seem to harvest the stalks in time. How do you know when they are ready, and when is it too late? The small ones seem to be too skinny, and soon after they are too tough. They never seem to look like the ones in the store.
Thanks.

Daisy October 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Barbara–If your bed is over three years old, I would next ask how fertile your soil is; do you add any compost? Also, do you leave the ferny stalks until they turn brown? They need their foliage to store nutrients for next year. In terms of size for harvesting, the rule of thumb is to harvest stalks that are the dimension of a pencil or greater. Don’t wait for a stalk to thicken up after it emerges; it won’t get any bigger around than it is when it first comes out. Don’t let them get too tall, either. Harvest when they are about six to eight inches high.

Barbara Dyjak October 18, 2013 at 12:29 am

Thanks, Daisy for the sage advice. We definitely made some faux pas this year. I’ll be ready next spring!

robin October 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

I leave mine alone. They are pretty in the fall and the birds like them. I have plenty of asparagus otherwise.

Lisa December 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I have a few female plants, but there is no way I could remove them. The bed was here when I moved in, and may be very old. I won’t dig down into it for fear of damaging the plants. I just let them go and cut them back when they all die. It was just this past week I cut them back this year.

Anita December 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I was wondering, I planted my plants last spring and let them just grow this summer. Now since it is winter I was wondering if I wanted to create a raised bed can I just add soil on top of them when they die back?

Daisy December 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Anita–I think that would be fine. Since blanching asparagus involves covering the entire growing shoots with mulch, I don’t think a few extra inches of soil would have any ill effects on your asparagus bed.

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