A is for Aspargus
Jan 15, 2021
A is for Asparagus. That's right. We are going through the alphabet folks!
A member of the Liliaceae family, asparagus is one of the very few vegetable perennials that exists! Fun fact. You can plant one time, and harvest spring spears for 20-30 years. Rare indeed.
Although, it only has a 4-6 week harvest window, asparagus is nice because it grows early in the spring when other vegetables aren't quite ready - making it very marketable, if you are growing for profits.
I like to plant mine along a perimeter because after spring, it "ferns out" to be 6ft tall and bushy!
Growing info: you can grow from seed or from the crown. I prefer the crown because they come from a 1 year old plant and produce faster than from seed. I ordered mine from Johnny's Seeds online and planted 300 ft in 2011!
When crowns arrive follow planting instructions. They like room to spread out, so its recommended to create a trench for the established root system prior to planting. Submerge roots in water then plant every 18 inches or so. Cover with soil and that's it, really! You can water them in, but chances are spring will take care of that for you!
Be sure not to harvest your asparagus in the first year, and only once the second year. They need time to develop a stronger root system and must use their young shoots to convert the sun's energy into root growth (photosynthesis? lol). Either way if you over-pick, you will stunt its vigor.
When its harvest time, simply snap the asparagus shoots at the base of the stalk when they are of desirable size. They need refrigeration and like to breath so don't restrict them in plastic bags where air and moisture can't circulate.
If growing for markets, bundle a handful with a rubber band and cut the ends for uniformity. Most people prefer a tidy presentation, and most businesses require industry specifications. Asparagus doesn't have a long shelf life so eat/sell it quickly!
After the spring craze, allow spears to "fern out" and grow tall. The feathery foliage is rather surprising to someone who hasn't seen them at this stage. Allow to grow thru the fall and cut them with a lawn mower when the ground is still frozen to prevent root damage.
See fertilization recommendations online for continued care. Pests can be problem for asparagus too so always kill eggs, larva, and beetles if they appear.
Do you have any questions?