It has come to our attention that many home gardeners and small growers are planting their asparagus roots dry and their rhubarb crowns too deep. Soak asparagus roots for several hours or overnight in water prior to planting. Spears will appear in a matter of weeks after spring planting. Plant asparagus roots about a foot apart, being sure the crowns are not touching one another in the planting trench. Begin by planting the crown about 2 inches deep and plan to add top soil over the crowns as the bed matures. Shallow crowns produce spindly asparagus spears and deep crowns grow shallower with each year of growth.

Rhubarb crowns have to be planted shallow. At least 1/4 to 1/3 of the crown surface should be above ground level when properly planted. If the bud itself is below the soil line it may rot off and fail to grow. We have seen fall planted crowns frost heave and roll around on the soil surface and still grow. This is not an ideal situation, but it makes the point that a shallow crown will often grow and a crown planted below the surface almost certainly will not.

Organic gardeners should be aware that patience is a virtue. A seedbed freshly installed with lots of organic matter needs to age much like a fine wine. A bed prepared in the fall of the year and allowed to over winter, so it has time to compost and form humus, will produce far better results than a bed that is thrown together and immediately planted into. A fresh bed is a hot bed of microbial activity and those so called beneficial compost organisms are likely to compost your rhubarb crown on asparagus root right along with the apple core you left in there. On the other hand, after your rhubarb or asparagus planting is well established, the addition of compost will be beneficial and will not harm the established rhubarb, asparagus, or other crop.

Asparagus can be picked for about 6 weeks in the spring. In our area harvest begins in early April and goes through about mid-May. There are only a finite number of buds on the asparagus crown and if one keeps picking until all the buds have been harvested, the crown will die. Asparagus and rhubarb are very early corps and should be allowed to grow the first season without attempting to harvest until the next spring. Having your own home grown rhubarb and asparagus is a terrific way to kick off the spring season.

Bark & Garden Center