Asparagus officinalis

Care and Planting Instructions

Since your asparagus will occupy the same space for 10-20 years, select and prepare your bed with care. Choose a spot that will get full sun as this will produce more vigorous plants and minimize disease. Remove all weeds and dig in plenty of aged manure or compost. Lighter soils that drain well work best.

Following a twice a year feeding program – once in the spring before growth appears and another feeding as soon as harvest is completed will help encourage production and thick spears. Although, asparagus does not tolerate wet soil, don’t skimp on watering when you see the tops developing.

To harvest: cut or snap off the spears when they are 6-8 inches tall. ‘Snapping’ or bending the spear over sharply until it breaks helps to avoid injury to other shoots that are still below the ground. Don’t start taking cuttings until after the 2nd year. This will help establish the root stock below the ground.

Asparagus
asparagus officinalis

Mary Washington Asparagus
A perennial, vigorous heirloom. This classic variety
produces thick, long spears in May and June.
Grows 36-48” tall. Harvest – light cuttings can
begin after the 2nd year.

Asparagus culture –

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable grown for its delicious young shoots. Rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, asparagus is one of the first crops of spring harvest. Fresh-picked spears are more tender and tasty than store-bought ones and should be harvested before the shoots start to ‘fern out’. Once the spears start to open the stems quickly turn woody making it inedible. Plants grow from 36”-48” tall with branched feathery foliage.

Asparagus can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled or used as an ingredient in soups, stews or salads. Once harvested, the shoots can be prepared a number of ways, typically as an appetizer, vegetable side dish, or stir-fried. They are often served with Hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil, Parmesan cheese or mayonnaise. It can even be grilled! Asparagus can also be pickled and stored for several years.

As asparagus originated in maritime habitats, it thrives in soils that are too saline for normal weeds to grow. Use a dusting of rock salt, yearly, to help suppress weeds in your asparagus bed; this has the disadvantage that the soil cannot be used for anything else, but since asparagus plants keep producing crops for 10-20 years, weeds will be kept to a minimum.