Producing White Asparagus
White asparagus is commonly grown beneath black plastic, in a heavy mulch of sawdust or among eight-inch mounds of soil.
However, black plastic prevents water movement, builds up excessive heat and is susceptible to deer and wind damage. Large applications of sawdust can deplete soils of nitrogen, and Ohio soil cannot be easily mounded.
Objective: To produce white asparagus in 25% of 4,000 crowns using mushroom compost, which has a similar texture to sawdust without the negative effects.
The producer applied the compost in the fall only in between the asparagus rows. In the late winter and early spring, he covered the asparagus crowns with the mushroom compost and then again in early summer after the compost further decomposed.
Results: The mushroom compost required that the producer harvest asparagus spears two to three times daily, compared to once daily with common mulching methods. The spear lengths were also shorter with mushroom compost.
The producer plans to increase the height of the compost to hopefully lengthen the harvested spears.