One of the first lessons in gardening is that of patience. There are many plants make you wait year after year until you can enjoy their blooms and fruits. A few in my yard that come to mind include our climbing hydrangea (7 year wait for blooms), peonies (3 years to bloom) and asparagus (3 years until first harvest).
Last year Susan from Itzy Bitzy Farm came by and helped me plant some of her three year old Jersey Giant asparagus in one of my raised beds. Who doesn’t love a variety of asparagus that shares a name with a chicken breed?! I learned a great deal from her and was so thankful that in this case, we would have some immediate garden gratification.
Asparagus will send up its edible stalks in cool weather. Typically in spring the spears emerge from the ground followed by fern-like foliage. Edible stalks usually take the summer off and return in the fall for a second crop. When planting bare asparagus crowns, be sure to spread out their roots like an octopus and make sure that their crown sits just below the soil. They also like their space. In our 6′ x 3′ raised garden bed we planted five crowns.
Asparagus also does not mind being planted next to tomatoes in fact they have a beneficial relationship with basil, parley, strawberries, cilantro and dill. It is also a heavy feeder and enjoys regular deep watering. Try regularly feeding your asparagus bone meal and fish emulsion fertilizer.
In the fall, leave the wispy fern-like asparagus leaves and let them die off. Trim them back early the following spring. This ensures that the nutrients from the leaves are reabsorbed back into the plants. The asparagus beetle is their biggest pest and they can be treated organically with neem oil. Asparagus crowns if properly cared for can live for years in the garden.
If you are interested growing asparagus, check out Itzy Bitzy Farm’s mail order asparagus.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest