Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
Gerald L. Klingaman
Asparagus is one of the few truly perennial vegetables. It is also one of the rare veggies in the lily family. This tough herbaceous plant originates from the coastal regions of Europe, Asia and North Africa. Over time its clumps slowly spread via rhizomes.
Fully unfurled asparagus has a delicate ferny appearance. The much sought after luscious, asparagus spears are immature, unexpanded stems that are plucked from the ground when they first appear spring. Asparagus is dioecious, which means that some plants produce female flowers and some male flowers. This is pertinent because the male plants produce more spears than female.
It takes around three years before a plant is fully harvest-worthy. Young plants produce very thin shoots, while mature plants produce the substantial spears that we buy at the market. Asparagus should be at least the width of a finger before harvesting. In Europe it is common to raise white asparagus, which is produced by burming soil over the crowns and harvesting emerging stems before they are exposed to light. This cultural practice is called blanching and results in tender white spears.
Choose your planting site well for asparagus as it is a permanent installation. Full sun is a must and rich, friable, fertile soil with some sand is best. Mix in some organic matter and plant one-year old crowns for earlier spear production. Asparagus does require a dormant period, so it does not fare well in the south. Control weeds with straw or mulch, supply adequate moisture and be sure to leave spears to develop into mother ferns to nourish the plants for next year’s harvest.
8 - 1
3 - 8
A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m
2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m
Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer
Southern Europe, Mediterranean
Spring, Summer, Fall
Yellow Green, Orange Red
Purple, Light Green, Dark Green
Edible, Herb / Vegetable
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