Asparagus ferning


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I'm new to vegetable gardening, so please bare with me. I recently built a raised bed garden in my yard. It is filled with a mix of about 60% compost and 40% top soil and then some random ammendments. The top 3 inches or so is coconut coir. My question is about asparagus. I planted 1 year old asparagus. The asparagus was the kind with the really long roots. All 5 that I planted have started to grow, but only in fern form, no chutes. Is this normal? Can I expect edible asparagus this year or do I have to wait until next year. I am in Central Wisconsin and we had a big snow in late winter so the asparagus did not get planted until early May. Thanks
 
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Welcome to the forum! Your asparagus is acting normally, the ferns are stems and leaves that will gather nutrients and help the roots develop. One year old plants won't send up many spears, and any spears that do come up shouldn't be harvested. Next year when the plants are two years old you can do a very light cutting of the spears. Third year you'll have a nice harvest.
You'll want to mulch the bed--asparagus never saw a weed it didn't love! When the little green spears start to appear next spring, give the bed a light dressing of a balanced fertilizer.
We've grown asparagus for 10 years here on the farm, and have only eaten fresh asparagus for the last seven years. Fresh asparagus is one of springtime's great pleasures!
 
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Thank you, good to know. In the fall, do I cut down the fern or just let it be?
 
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We cut our asparagus ferns down when they turn brown, usually after the first freeze. You can just let them stand or fall over, but it makes tending the plants more difficult. I strongly suggest cutting them down to about 1" above ground (that way you know where your asparagus crowns are) and removing the cuttings.
 

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