Direct seeding is more difficult than
planting crowns or transplants. It has been most successful
in the southern coastal and desert areas. Germination
is slow, requiring a 4 to 5 week germination period
at cooler temperatures. If planting during the summer
months, young seedlings can be protected with 50% shade
cloth or two layers of floating row cover until they
have about six leaves. This helps protect from sunburn
as well as seedling pests. Plant on raised beds made
by adding large amounts of soil amendments so that a
bed is established above the previous level of soil.
Make beds about 24 inches wide with two rows per bed
about 12 inches apart. Dig a furrow 5 to 6 inches deep
and plant the seed in the bottom of the furrow about
0.75 to 1 inch deep and 3 to 6 inches apart. When the
seedlings are tall enough, pull the soil around their
stems and fill in the furrows. This develops deep-rooted
seedlings that will have a longer life span than those
planted shallowly on flat beds.
The best way
to transplant asparagus is from 1-year-old crowns
available from most nurseries in the winter months.
Use only the largest, most healthy crowns. If transplanting
in the summer, shade plants in the middle
of the day for the first week. Seedlings can be transplanted
in the fall. Plant in the bottom of a furrow about
4 to 6 inches deep and 12 inches apart. When planting,
place root-side down and fan them out. Cover the crowns
with 2 to 3 inches of soil and water in. As ferns
develop during the first growing season, begin to fill
in the remaining furrows.