Asparagus, whose scientific name is Asparagus officinalis, is a family of long-living perennial spring vegetables. Like most vegetables, asparagus is an extremely healthy food. Low in calories as well as in cholesterol and sodium, asparagus in an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients such as copper, dietary fiber, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and zinc. Asparagus is also a nutritious ingredient in many delicious recipes. Learn how to grow this wonderful vegetable at home with these simple tips on growing asparagus in your garden.
Although asparagus will grow from seeds in a home garden, most gardeners prefer to transplant one- or two-year-old asparagus crowns because of the extensive time and attention needed to care for asparagus seedlings. However you plan to grow your asparagus, begin by choosing a variety. Some recommended varieties of asparagus include:
- Jersey Giant
- Jersey Knight
- Jersey Prince
- Mary Washington
- Martha Washington
- Syn 53
- Syn 4-364
- UC 157
- Viking KBC
- Waltham Washington
You should also understand that asparagus plants are either male or female. If you want seeds to form, choose female plants. If you want larger asparagus spears without new seeds, choose male plants. If you opt to plant female plants, know that fallen seeds will produce new seedlings.
Because asparagus is a perennial plant, select an area of you garden to which you are willing to devote the next twenty to thirty years to growing asparagus. As a very hardy plant, asparagus can be planted as soon as you can work the soil in your garden, which is from the middle of April to late May in most regions of the United States. To prepare the soil, dig trenches about a foot deep. Spread a layer about six inches deep of phosphorus-rich fertilizer or compost in the bottom of the trench. Space your asparagus crowns approximately every one foot on top of the fertilizer or compost in the trench. Fill in the rest of the trench with loose soil. You should lightly water the transplanted crowns immediately planting; however, asparagus is very tolerant to drought, so supplemental watering throughout the growing season is usually unnecessary and may result in damaged or diseased asparagus plants.
Growing and Harvesting Asparagus
The biggest threats to asparagus are insects and disease. Asparagus beetles chew on the plants resulting in lower yields of the vegetable during the next growing season. Use an insecticide to kill and prevent further infestation. Also remove any visible beetles by hand. Asparagus rust is a fungus that affects plants that receive too much moisture. Plant asparagus in an area of your garden will quick draining soil and remove any growths affected by the fungus.
Asparagus can be harvested beginning during the third growing season. However, during the third year, asparagus should only be harvested during the first month; you can harvest through the season after the fourth year. When the individual asparagus spears reach six to nine inches in length, cut the spears off near the base of the plant with a sharp pair of shears or scissors; some gardeners also prefer to snap the spears off by hand. Do not cut below the surface of the soil because doing so may damage the crown and prevent new spears from growing during the next growing season. At the end of the growing season, remove all remaining spears and cover the plant with fertilizer.
Asparagus is a very hardy vegetable that will continue to grow in your garden year after year for twenty to sometimes thirty years. Adding this delicious and nutritious vegetable to your diet is simple with these easy-to-follow tips on growing asparagus in your garden.
Asparagus | Garden Guides: http://www.gardenguides.com/342-asparagus.html
Growing Asparagus in the Home Garden: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1603.html
Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Asparagus: http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2316/2
What Your Garden Grow – Asparagus: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/asparagus1.html
Asparagus Growing in a Tub: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asparagus_Tip.jpg