We planted asparagus a few years ago and some of the plants have
survived and prospered. There seem to be two types: one with very thin
spears, and one with very thick spears. I suspect they are female and male.
In any event, we are about to cut some spears from the plant with thick
spears, and I'm wondering whether we should cut all of them, or leave a
few to develop foliage. My wife is walking around, knife in hand,
wanting to cut them all, reasoning that the roots can support
themselves. Do we cut all or a fraction? The plant only has 16 spears.
Harvest all of them and keep cutting them at least every day or two during
your harvest. As far as I know, a plant producing 16 spears should be ready
to harvest. If you let any of the spears grow, the crown will stop producing
more spears. Rule of thumb for 4- or 5-year old plants is to harvest for a 4
to 6 week period, after which you must let some spears grow into ferns, to
photosynthesize for next year's development.
I don't know about skinny vs. thicker spears. (The female plants produce
more spears, but they also produce seeds and can send asparagus volunteers
all over the place.) I thought super-thin spears were a sign of an
underdeveloped crown, from which you should only harvest for a week or two.
All of mine were like that last year (year 3), and I only harvested a tiny
bit. This year - after a sunnier summer because we took down some trees and
that gave them more light - the spears are thicker, and plentiful.
Also, keep them well weeded (no competition) and in bright sunlight.
Stop cutting on 31st May so as to let the crowns build up for next
year. The little shoots, called 'sprue', you can eat too. Yummy.
Nick and Nick
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