Everyone knows that asparagus is tasty and makes your pee smell funny but did you know that it really isn’t too hard to grow your own? If you’ve never grown asparagus in your vegetable garden, let me give you the highlights.
First off, pick a sunny spot in your garden where you’re going to want to grow the asparagus. Choose wisely because if your plants do well, they’re going to be there for the next 15 years or so. Asparagus is a perennial and if harvested properly will come back for many years.
Plant your crowns in an area that you’ve amended with compost or composted manure and space them at least a foot apart. These plants will grow into a really cool fern like bush so give them some room. You may want to soak the crowns in water for 20 minutes before you plant them.
Now you’re going to need some patience. The first year, when these tiny little mini asparagus come up, you can’t pick them. Let them grow into a big fern looking plant. It’s developing a strong root system at this point and if you pick them, that’ll be the end of your future asparagus. You can occasionally top dress the plants with an inch or two of compost. The second year you really shouldn’t pick anything either. Maybe take a stalk or two just to try them out. But once the third year comes it’s time for harvest.
You’ll be able to pick asparagus for about 4 weeks in the spring. But after that, let them grow into those familiar ferns again. To harvest you just snap the stalks with your fingers or cut them right at ground level.
If you want white asparagus, mound up the soil to cover the aspargus shoots or cover them with a paper bag as they emerge. The lack of sunlight will keep them white.
When you get to the 4th year, you can extend your harvest to about 6-8 weeks.
So I guess the most important things to remember about growing asparagus are compost and patience. But trust me, fresh asparagus from the garden is worth the wait. During those first couple of years, if you want funny smelling pee, then you’ll need to buy your asparagus at the farmer’s market.