One of my favorite crops to grow and eat is Asparagus. Asparagus will be one of the first crops you will enjoy for your gardening season. It is easy to maintain and grows until the summer heat sets in. A good crop can feed the whole family with this high nutrient food. Low is calories and high in nutrients you can’t go wrong with this awesome crop. Loaded with vitamin K, C, E, A, B1, B2, B6, folate, copper, selenium, iron, and calcium and many more. If you need anti-inflammatory asparagus is your food because it provides a truly unique combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients. This crop boast protein and fiber and taste oh so good. You can steam it, roast it, or put it on the BBQ. Asparagus is a crop that needs at least one year to take root and will be a major producer the next year. So, pick a spot to grow this wonderful crop.
Garden Spot (Preparing your spot for growing)
It is important to pick a spot and do not move your crop after planting if possible. This allows it to take root and grow larger and larger spears every year. Asparagus will come back for 20 years for your eating enjoyment. To prepare your spot for growing, early spring Asparagus can be started from one-year old crowns. Clear all weeds from the area. Before planting I like to till in aged chicken manure 4 to 6 inches deep. Make trenches about 6 inches wide and at least 12” inches deep, row spacing 6 to 8” apart. I put a small shovel full of compost mound about 6” apart and place a crown on top of each. Place the crown over the mound and spread the roots out. Cover you crown with 4” of dirt and wait till the asparagus comes up. When you see the spear come up, cover it with more dirt and compost until level with the ground. I cover my crop with a thick layer of straw to keep out the weeds out all summer long. Hint: easy crop to grow!
First Year of Planting
In the first year of planting it is best to just let the crop go to fern. If you do this, you will have larger asparagus to eat the next year. If you can’t wait, try not to pick more the 50% of the crop, letting the rest go to fern. Pick your crop in the cool early morning is best. I store them in a cup of water in the refrigerator until ready to eat. This keeps them crisp until eaten. Or eat them raw; the sweet taste and crisp crunch of fresh asparagus straight out of the garden is sure to please. Go ahead and try it!
Water, Light, and Dirt….
Regular water- keep soil evenly moist, but not wet. I use a drip system in my garden. I water early in the morning giving the soil time to dry out before night. That is important with asparagus not to leave it wet, so rust does not set into the garden patch. Asparagus prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade. I have mine in full sun and it loves it.
It’s time to get your asparagus ready for Spring crop. Cut down winter ferns. I use a tree trimmer and cut at the base of the asparagus meets the dirt. Some like to twist the fern off. If using this method make sure not to harm the crown of the asparagus. Asparagus loves phosphorus. I use composted chicken manure, bone meal and rock phosphorus to amend the soil and keep the levels high in these nutrients. I do this once in the early spring and again in mid-summer on a cool early morning day and water heavy. It is important to water heavy so that the fertilizer goes down deep to the roots of the Asparagus plant.
The Winter's End
At the end of summer let the asparagus go to fern. This is a good thing because it indicates that photosynthesis is being promoted therefore nutrition production and absorption increases. During the ferning process most of the energy produced is stored in the roots to give new growth the next year. Female spears produce green berries that eventually turn red. These berries are seeds. I have had them produce new plants. Most don’t have this happen, but it can happen like it has in my garden. Of course, these baby plants will not be ready to eat for a couple of years. But it has been a joy to watch them grow.
Preparing for Asparagus Cooking
The end of the spear can be woody. To avoid eating it I hold my asparagus in the middle of the spear and at the end and snap the end of the spear off. It will snap off where the woody part meets the tender area of the spear, leaving you with the tender part to enjoy.
If you have questions regarding growing asparagus leave me a comment and I will answer it as soon as I can. If room allows for you to grow this crop give it a try, you are sure to enjoy it year after year like my family and I do. Good luck and happy gardening!!