When can I transplant my asparagus?

Q.

Hi there. Can I transplant my 4 groups of 2yr old asparagus corms and if so when I should do it please. They have produced a good crop of fern throughout summer so I have just cut them back and they are producing new shoots, some of which for the first time are thick and very white. Is that normal? Many thanks. Brenda

Brenda Gael

A.

Hi Brenda, February early March is too early to cut back asparagus fern, that is why your plants have sent up new spears, although it is common to get a second autumn crop of asparagus. Before asparagus emerge into the light, they are white, when they reach light, they start producing chlorophyll which turns them green. In Germany, they prefer white asparagus and so the plants are covered, usually with a thick mulch, to keep them from the light and the spears are harvested when they are white. In New Zealand, we prefer our asparagus green. The thick shoots are male plants which are what you want, because they are thicker, and produce higher yields than female plants. Female plants send up spindly shoots like the green one in your photo. Female plants can be removed and are easily identified because they have red berries in autumn. Leave the shoots that have emerged to go to fern, cut the fern back when it starts to yellow in winter. The leaves yellow off and die down, this is the food source for the plant next season. Asparagus do not like to be moved and can stay in the same bed for 20 years or more, but if you need to move your plants, the time to do it is in winter (June/July) when you cut down the fern fronds, and the plant is completely dormant. Dig in generous amounts of compost to your new bed, and apply a thick layer of compost over the top of the plants. Feed with a nitrogen rich fertiliser in spring and summer. The Tui Team.

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