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Planting Potatoes and Asparagus

The Martha Stewart Show, April 2009

When the ground has thawed and the fear of frost is over, you can plant items such as potatoes or asparagus directly into the ground.

Potatoes are grown from the sprouted eyes of other potatoes. You'll have the best results if you buy certified disease-free seed potatoes. You cut the potatoes into pieces, making sure there is one eye in each piece. To prevent rot after they have been cut, let the pieces sit in a cool dry place for a few days to harden -- then, it's time to plant.

To plant potatoes, begin by digging a trench about 6 inches deep. Place potatoes in trench about 1 foot apart, and cover with about 4 inches of soil so a shallow trench remains. Green foliage will appear in a few weeks, and when it's 4 to 6 inches tall, start adding soil, hoeing it from each side of the row onto the plants, almost to the top of the leaves. Keep hoeing every week or so until the plants are at least a foot tall and flowers start to appear.

When planting asparagus, be sure to choose a space that is in full sun. Pick your spot wisely, as these plants can grow as tall as 6 feet, and you want to make sure they won't shade the rest of your vegetables. Plant the crowns in furrows that are 6 to 8 inches deep and 3 to 5 feet apart. Then, set crowns upright with the roots spread evenly, and cover with 2 inches of soil. As spears grow through the soil, gradually fill in with more soil.

During the first season, let your asparagus plants grow into ferns. During the second season, you can pick a moderate harvest for the first two weeks. Not until the third season will you have a bountiful harvest of asparagus, enough to harvest for a full six to eight weeks. Asparagus plants will keep producing spears for 15 years.

Martha demonstrated how to plant potatoes and asparagus in a raised bed, made with wood approximately 3 feet wide by 7 feet long and 8 inches deep and filled with a fertile mix of soil and compost. Raised beds provide a means of successful gardening in an area that does not drain well or have healthy soil.

Resources
Read more about Martha's potato planting on the Martha Blog. Special thanks to Johnny's Selected Seeds for providing the red gold potatoes and asparagus used on the show. For more helpful gardening information, check out our vegetable garden center. Plus, show off your prized vegetable or vegetable garden by entering a photo in our vegetable garden contest.