I love to try new things in the yard. In fact that is how I came up with one of the most fun edible delicacies in my yard. Asparagus.
So a few years ago a friend of mine called me and said that she had about 100 extra asparagus roots I was game. It was also time to figure out just how to grow it. Often the way that I learn what something looks like growing is that I plant the seeds or in this case the root and see what happens.
As I alluded above asparagus is a root, one that is a perennial (comes back each year) and produces for many years. So what to do with 100 plants? I visited the local gardening expert Jim Baker who owns Baker Nursery. He shared this with me on how to plant them.
1. Dig a trench one foot deep.
2. Add a good organic fertilizer to the bottom of the hole and work it in.
3. Per the spacing instructions lay the asparagus roots in the bottom of the trench.
4. As asparagus likes organic rich soil add organic material into the trench along with the dirt that was dug.
5. Let the asparagus grow for a year.
6. In year after the asparagus has grown out finish filling the trench with a good organic mix.
7. Eat asparagus
Well I have to tell you it works. Smile. For more specifics on exactly what it takes to grow asparagus see http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/vegetable/asparagus.html
One of my favorite things about asparagus is that it comes back year after year. I just plant it once and each spring I get to reap the bounty of nature. The way that it grows out is also interesting. Along about March 15th (in Phoenix – it will be later in colder climates) asparagus shoots just like you see in the store stick their heads up through last years layer of mulch. THESE are the ones you want to eat – don’t let them get too tall as they get tough. I find that they will produce edible shoots for about a month. Then tall wispy stalks shoot up – strangely looking just like asparagus fern. These will grow through till it gets cold in the fall AND play an important role in the long-term success of your plants. They are collecting sunlight to photosynthesize and build the roots to they are strong for the next years crop. Then in the fall I cut down the asparagus tops and lay them on the ground and add a little organic fertilizer as next years mulch.
My fertilizing regime consists of the fall fertilizing and adding a nice layer of mulch every year. Watering is easy I give them a nice deep watering every two weeks and in the summer I watch them to make sure they don’t dry out more often. All in all asparagus is one of the easier plants that I grow and one of the more rewarding.