Seed Swaps

Asparagus varieties?

Planning the asparagus bed and need some advice. I’ve got seed for Mary Washington (the only one I’ve grown before) and Argenteuil. Argenteuil is an early variety, and I have no idea about MW.

I’d like to grow a middle and a late to add to the early Argenteuil because the longer the asparagus season, the better!

I’m in the subtropics at elevation, in Australia. Don’t want crowns, I prefer seeds. Any suggestions?

Posted over 6 years ago

This is an older article, but should get you starting point. Didn’t look up your minimum temps, but thinking you are a little warm for standard varieties. Most I am familiar with are for colder growing zones.

Good Luck


Posted over 6 years ago

Hi WoodNPawn. I didn’t see any varieties listed in the link, or the article which proceeded it.

Mary Washington (probably the older one, not the newer ‘improved’) grew well for me here, but I’m trying to extend the harvest as much as I can.

Part shade or at least shade in the afternoon helps them, but truly we do fine here. The spears tend to be thinner but more prolific and the period of dormancy is shorter. Given their habits I suspect they may not live as long as in colder areas, but mine were only in for about 8 years before I had to move. Where I want to grow them in this house will be shaded by the house while they are dormant, so that may help them, but no idea really.

Instead of getting another variety to add to the two I have, varying the positions around the garden would also let me hasten or delay the first spears, but I’d rather keep them all together.

Posted over 6 years ago

The fifth paragraph:

“Five cultivars; Tainan Nos 1 and 3 (Taiwan), UC 157 and Apollo (California, USA) and CAS 15 (New Zealand) gave promising yields of high quality spears.”

Many plants, trees need a chilled dormancy. Like a really good nights sleep. You might try to email the professor and see if they have trialed the newer all male Jersey varieties. I am planting Franchi “Arparagus Precoce d’Argenteuil.” I need early to beat the heat. It goes from cool to hot very rapidly here.

Posted over 6 years ago

Thanks WoodNPawn, I missed that par. somehow. Jersey Giant is grown by a few people here in warmer areas, but I can’t find any info about its timing in relation to the other two. Also it is a hybrid, so I’d have to keep it separate from the other two if I want to save seed to raise.

Did a search on the others mentioned in that par. and all were hybrids and there are few comparisons made between them and Mary Washington or Argenteuil, only other commercial hybrids. I guess old varieties don’t much rate commercially so no need to use them as comparisons.

Your climate in summer may be similar to mine, I think. Yesterday was 33 c with about 45% humidity, and this is Spring! Mary Washington has performed very well here and might be a good second variety for you too. It coped well with the heat and rain of summer, but I did have it in a position that did not get any Western sun. I know little about the modern hybrids, many of which seem to be good. As a long term perennial, I don’t put a lot of faith in the reviews of many newer varieties which haven’t stood the test of time.

I really don’t know how long asparagus will live in the subtropics, but mine hadn’t decreased in production at 8 years, despite short dormancy.

Posted over 6 years ago

The newer hybrids here are said to be all male, so few to no seeds. Said to be higher producing. Where I grew up in the Midwest (USA), asparagus was naturalized, my step-dad knew where it grew and just gathered it. Which was great because that meant we didn’t get enough to freeze it cause as kids it was yucky.

I would think even the crosses would produce viable seed and productive plants. The other plus is it doesn’t self sow and crowd itself. Given a choice i would start with 1 year old plants. Generally 3 years from seed to first reasonable harvest. From discussions with the cooperative extension, 2 year plants seem to set back more and take the same time as 1 year plants, so don’t justify the extra expense.

Posted over 6 years ago

I know they are _said": to be *all *male, but many people report otherwise when growing some of the Jersey’s from seed or crowns. They are mostly male. Discarding the girls is not the problem, I would just rather grow a variety that I can save seed from. I wouldn’t want to take the trouble of growing out seed from a cross where I didn’t even know the parentage. The info on the parentage of most hybrids is usually an industrial secret. I’m not blaming companies for this, a lot of work can go into producing these hybrids that are stable from seed.

If you don’t want to save seed, the hybrids may be good bet. The newer hybrids are very productive, especially for spears of ‘marketable quality’, however I can’t find anyone willing to say that a bed of them is as long lasting as MW or Argenteuil. ‘Marketable quality’ is an issue I don’t need to consider. A variation in the spear size isn’t important for me and I don’t think purple tinged tips detract from their appearance.

Asparagus is just so long to production and I don’t have the space available to grow out something that after several years could turn out to be unsatisfying. Both Argenteuil and MW have long, successful histories and they can be caged to prevent crossing. An F1 is an unknown quantity and seed produced by them would only be worth saving if I had enough room to grow on and rogue out any undesirable offspring. Even doing this, it would be years to know if these plants were as long lived or disease resistant as proven varieties.

That is interesting that one year old plants are advised by your CE agent. I haven’t seen any for sale here, just the two year old crowns. I raised all the MW I had in my last garden from seed, in flats. They were planted out as one year olds. I didn’t want to grow too many females, so discarded (cut and ate them to death!) all but two of them as they revealed themselves. One extra year growing from seed is fine and will give me about 20 males for half the price of one two year old crown.

Argenteuil is not only early in the season, it is precocious. Everything I read on this variety says you can lightly cut spears in the second year from seed, while MW is supposedly best left for three. Rule of thumb works for me, if the spears are thinner than a pencil, I don’t touch them whatever the age. Even on older, producing plants, I used that as my signal to stop cutting. Some of the plants were allowed to grow on after 10 weeks of cutting and they seemed no more productive than those I kept cutting until the ‘pencil point’. All the 8 year old plants were as vigorous as they were in their fifth year, so I’ll keep using that as my cutting guide.

Unless a third, non hybrid variety reveals itself before next Spring, I will try planting half the MW seedlings at 20 cm (the deepest recommended) and see if that makes them start and hopefully continue on later in the season. I can also keep that part of the bed more deeply mulched to keep the soil cooler, while letting the soil get sunned in the part growing the ones I want as a mid season. May work, may not. Might reduce or extend their useful lifespan. There isn’t much info I can find on these manipulations that is more definite than, ‘should’, or ‘may’.

A friend of mine used to cut naturalised asparagus when she went home to an area a little higher and colder than here. The spears were as thin as sprue, and delicious. Just as well children don’t like it, more for the adults!

Posted over 6 years ago

Here is and interesting read.
Hope you enjoy it.

Posted over 6 years ago

Interesting read. How fortunate to have a job you love so much you keep working even though retired from it!

I’ve tried before to follow up the International Asparagus Cultivar Trials but there doesn’t seem to be much information past the first 3-4 year mark. Also, none of the places trialing have a climate remotely like mine and of course no one trials in a home situation. I don’t plant in rows. Because I don’t need to use machinery I can plant in blocks, which is more efficient of space. Interestingly, I found out that one of the OP asparagus, Purple Passion is suggested to have closer planting. Does that mean it is naturally a smaller plant, or is it just less vigorous? Would it cope with 30 C + temps?

I’ve given up looking for another variety and will stick with the two I have. Some of the hybrids available to me here are ones that are now superseded by newer ones, overseas. Maybe in the future I can look at a third variety, but right now there is simply no information about what will do well in my climate.

Posted over 6 years ago

Hi there! You're reading a conversation in the Kitchen Gardens group on Folia.