Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables to grow, because it is the first thing to come up in the garden in spring. Asparagus is a perennial, which means that once you plant it, you don’t have to replant it.
You purchase the plant as “asparagus crowns” which are little cut off plants with lots and lots of roots. They’re very peculiar to look at the first time you ever see them. If you’ve ever planted strawberry crowns, they’re similar but the roots are a lot thicker.
When you plant the crowns, make sure you pick a good spot because you’re not going to want to move them. Asparagus roots can grow up to ten feet, so keep that in mind when choosing the location of your asparagus bed. They grow fairly tall and fern out, so do not plant them where they will shade your other vegetables. They also prefer soil that drains well.
When the asparagus grows through the earth in early spring (the photo below was taken on March 26th), you cut the spear off just below the dirt level. Make sure to only cut the spears that are as thick or thicker in diameter than a pencil.
The first year you plant asparagus, you can’t harvest it at all. The second year you can harvest it for ~2 weeks, the third year for ~4 weeks, the fourth year for ~6 weeks and after that for ~8 weeks.
One of my biggest complaints about asparagus is that you have so much of it for such a short period of time. But I have discovered a slight trick.
Because asparagus is a perennial, you stop harvesting it after a while so the plants can grow up and put enough energy into the roots. This is what allows the plant to survive the winter. To get a later harvest, I let some of my asparagus bed grow without being cut (don’t mind the weeds):
Then in the summer time, I cut it down and let the asparagus grow again. I harvest this asparagus for a couple of weeks before letting it grow back up for the rest of the season.
This way I get a mini harvest in the summer.
Asparagus can be intimidating if you’ve never grown it before. But don’t let this discourage you. We’ve found it to be a very easy vegetable to grow because it is very hardy and pest resistant. I highly recommend it be added to your vegetable garden.
I never liked asparagus before deciding to grow it. Now I find it tastes so good that I regularly eat it straight out of the garden without even cooking it.