This year one of my goals is to set up an asparagus patch. My original plan was to purchase crowns. I had, however, heard (somewhere?) that growing asparagus from seed was possibly a better alternative. When I mentioned that I was hoping to start some asparagus on Bek’s blog, she also re-iterated that I should consider going the seed route instead of using crowns.
Why? Because seed grown asparagus can result in better, stronger plants in the long run since they didn’t go through the shock of being ripped from the ground, packaged and then allowed to sit there for who knows how long waiting to be purchased.
This, coupled with complaints from other bloggers about the dubious quality of the crowns they purchased (with some crowns not even surviving into their 2nd year), prompted me to give seeds a try. The fact that asparagus seeds are also about 1/3 the cost of crowns doesn’t hurt either.
The one big drawback to growing asparagus from seed, of course, is that your first harvest will be delayed by one year. But since asparagus is such a long lived vegetable, often producing for over twenty years, I don’t mind the extra wait if that means my plants will be stronger & give me a better harvest in the long run.
This past weekend I got down to business and sowed my asparagus seed. There were a total of 26 seeds in the packet and I decided to sow them all. I'm still debating on the size of the bed, but I know that I will need at least 18-20 plants, so hopefully I get a good rate of germination.
To give the seeds a bit of a jump start, I soaked them in water for 2 hours before sowing:
|Guelph Millennium (F1) Asparagus Seeds|
Enjoying a soak before sowing
I then plopped a seed into each hole, ran my hand over the soil to cover the seed & topped each cell with vermiculite. I had BIG issues with damping off back in 2013 & found that topping the soil with vermiculite helped stave off the disease.
|Cell Packs after Seeding|
As I learned last year, insulating the heat mat from the cold floor or shelf by placing a folded terry towel underneath makes a world of difference when it comes to the amount of heat generated.
|Condensation builds up on the interior of the lid|
from the toasty conditions inside the tray
Having never grown asparagus from seed before, I’m not sure if this will be a challenge or easy peasy. The good news is, if I do end up having issues, I can always revert to crowns. The same variety I purchased as seed is also available at William Dam as crowns in the early spring.
Speaking of variety, I chose an all-male hybrid – Guelph Millennium - developed by the University of Guelph, right here in Ontario. It is supposed to be a heavy producer and won “Seed of the Year” back in 2005. Let’s hope it lives up to expectations – I guess I’ll know in about 3 years’ time!
Till next time...