Asparagus Seed UC 157 F2
- Asparagus officinalis "UC 157" Early production, uniform size and color.
- Heavy yields of dark green spears with multi-spear initiation. Higher yields than other commercial varieties. Asparagus UC 157 F2 is a perennial, heat tolerant variety that grows in cold regions as well as warmer climates, Zones 3 to 9.
- Asparagus UC 157 F2, released by UC Davis is the second generation of UC157 developed by Frank Takatori and Frank Southers at the University of California at Riverside in 1978.
- Choose your site carefully, as asparagus will continue to produce a crop for up to 30 year loose soil.
History: A member of the lily family, it is native to Western Europe where it is found growing on the shorelines and river banks and on the steppes of Russia. Both the Greeks and Romans enjoyed asparagus and added it to their cultivated gardens. The early American colonists enjoyed this succulent vegetable as well.
Planting: Asparagus prefers to grow in rich, well drained, sandy soils but it can be grown in clay soil with some amendments added well in advance of planting. Grows best with 8 hours or more of full sun but can survive with 4 to 8 hours of sun per day. Clay Soil: Amend the soil in fall so the amendments have ample time to decompose, improving the drainage and soil fertility. If you have acid soil such as found in Western Washington and Oregon, add 1 pound of lime every ten feet of planting area and add generous amount of phosphorous, or use Bone Meal.
Sandy Loam Soil: If you have sandy loam or well drained soil the bed preparation is much easier. Simply add lime and phosphorous (0-20-0 or 0-40-0) at a rate of 4 lbs. per 100 square feet or bone meal at the rate of 4 ounces per square yard and spade into the soil. Planting: Start seeds indoors 8 weeks before last frost. Soil temperature for germination 77° . Transplant after all danger of frost is past and soil is 60-70 ° . Space plants 15” to 18” apart so the roots do not touch each other. Water sparingly; too much water will rot the roots. The new asparagus crowns grow on top of last year’s crowns so the crowns have a tendency to rise as they mature. In fall the asparagus bed should have 3 to 5 inches of soil
over the crowns. If the crowns are too shallow the spears are spindly and if planted too deep the crowns grow to the surface too rapidly sacrificing the yield of your early crop.
Harvest: Be patient and do not harvest the first year; do leave a few fronds growing for photosynthesis. In the second season you can harvest for two to three weeks until the spears develop ferny stalks. This encourages the roots to store food for the next year’s growth. Leave some fronds on the plant until fall when they will brown out. At that time you will cut them off and clean the asparagus bed. In the third year and thereafter, harvest can last 8 to 12 weeks. Harvest by snapping the spears off at or near ground level. If the spears bend but do not snap off, cut with a sharp knife.
Maintenance: Once asparagus is established it is fairly easy to maintain. It is extremely deep rooted so water and additional nutrients are not as crucial as with other vegetables. You can grow asparagus with minimal irrigation and fertilization. Fertilize after harvest in the spring when the plants begin to fern out. Aged manure is excellent or use a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 at the rate of 8 to 10 pounds per 100 feet. Supplemental watering should be done during the fern season but not during harvest time. In fall when the fern growth browns cut off all the fern growth and dispose of them. Keeping the asparagus bed clean will prevent disease and discourage insects as well. In fall be sure the roots or new crowns are covered with 3 to 5 inches of soil.