Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jersey Knight Asparagus (Crowns)

This all-male variety yields the highest quality spears of the Jersey hybrids. Developed on the East Coast, Jersey Knight performs well all across the US. Jersey Knight is highly resistant to rust, Fusarium, root rot, crown rot and Cercospora. It is also hardy in cold winter climates where the soil freezes solid. Will overwinter to zone 3. HV

Asparagus officinalis: This Mediterranean native is one of the first vegetables harvested in the spring. Asparagus is easy to start from seed, but you'll get an earlier harvest from 1 year old crowns. Enjoy steamed, served with butter or lightly drizzled with hollandaise sauce.

CULTURE: Direct seeding is not recommended. Start transplants 60-90 days before your last frost. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in sterile seedling mix kept at 65-80°F. Germination can take up to 21 days. Fertilize transplants with an all purpose liquid fertilizer.
PREPARING THE BED: The key to good production is a well-prepared, deeply dug bed with lots of added organic matter. Prior to transplanting, work in 1-2 cups of our complete fertilizer per 10 row feet. After the danger of frost has passed, plant seedlings 10-15 inches apart in a 4 inch deep trench. Fill in the trench as the asparagus grows.
Asparagus Root Crowns: Plant the crowns shortly after you receive them in mid-April. Complete instructions are included with your order.
MAINTAINING THE BED: Fertilize an established bed early in the spring and after harvest with 1-2 cups of our complete fertilizer per 10 row feet. Keep beds moist with about 1 inch of water per week. Stop harvesting when the stalks reduce in size to the diameter of a pencil. Let the smaller remaining spears grow. They may reach 5-7 feet tall and will become bushy. Cut off ferny growth to the ground after it turns yellow. Mulch with 2-3 inches of compost or well rotted manure in the fall.
DISEASE: The main diseases of asparagus are rust, Fusarium wilt, and Fusarium stem and crown rot. Control by starting seeds in sterile soil and maintaining good plant vigor.
INSECTS: Control asparagus beetles with an application of 5% Rotenone. Slugs may also be troublesome in the early spring, so use traps or bait to keep their munching to a minimum.
HARVEST: A moderate 2-3 week harvest can be expected from crowns in 2-3 years. Harvest spears when they are 6-10 inches tall, breaking or cutting them off at ground level. With each successive year, your harvest window will lengthen to a maximum of 6-8 weeks. Harvested spears can be held for 10 days at 34°F and 100% relative humidity.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 75%. Usual seed life: 3 years."

DAYS TO MATURITY: Harvest begins three years after planting (seed).
WHEN TO PLANT: Seed may be started indoors but are most commonly sown in the garden, often in a special nursery row, either in the fall or in the spring, about the time apple blossom petals begin to fall.
HOW TO PLANT: Soak the seeds in water overnight before planting, to soften the tough seed coats. The tiny, feathery seedlings look delicate, but they transplant well. Sow seeds 1" - 2" apart in a nursery bed. Transplant the plants out of the nursery row no later then the second year because older plants grow deep roots which must be sacrificed in digging up. Transplant them about 15" apart, in rows 3' - 4' apart. We know now that the heroic measures formerly used to plant asparagus on soil mounds in 18" deep trenches are not necessary. Roots planted 2"-8" deep do just as well. You can even set the crowns on the soil surface and mound 3" ridges of soil above them, according to some researchers, who say that although the effect of this method on asparagus yields has not been studied, crown survival was excellent.
GROWING CONDITIONS: The permanent asparagus bed can be well prepared while the seedlings are growing. Dig in plenty of limestone and well rotted manure and make certain the ground is well drained and well aerated. Plants that produce male flowers are somewhat more productive than the berry producing females so some growers cull out berried asparagus plants. mulch the bed and wait until the second year to take your first two to three week harvest. After five years you can pick for ten weeks.

PURCHASED: 25 1 year old crowns from Territorial Seed Co. Jan '09. Will ship mid April direct from grower. $29.95

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