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Asparagus   

Asparagus officinalis

Asparagus is part of the Asparagus genus. Its scientific name is Asparagus officinalis. The botanical name epithet for Asparagus (officinalis) means 'used medicinally'.

Asparagus is a vegetable grown for it’s edible stems. This plant is definitely one for gardeners with patient temperaments: it takes 3 years to grow from seed to harvest, or only 2 years if grown from a crown. However, once established Asparagus will crop for around 20 – 25 years, so patience in this case tends to pay off!

Leaves appear approximately as a   Office Green and   Cal Poly green

Asparagus grows as a perennial and is an edible vegetable. Being a perennial plant, it tends to grow best over several years (approx 3 years and greater).

Normally reaching to a mature height of 3.45 feet (1.06 metres). This plant tends to be ready for harvesting by mid spring.

Popular varieties of Asparagus with home gardeners are Mary Washington, Jersey Knight, Jersey Giant, Purple Passion and Purple.

Asparagus needs a moderate amount of maintenance, so some level of previous experience comes in handy when growing this plant. Ensure that you are aware of the soil, sun, ph and water requirements for this plant and keep an eye out for pests.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Asparagus have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Asparagus

  • Partial Sun

Keep them regularly watered and fertilized during the summer period and keep the bed free of weeds, especially perennial weeds which will compete for nutrients.

In the first 2 years, cut back the plumes in mid-summer to encourage new shoots to form 4. After 2 years, in early spring, build up the earth around the crown, to elongate the bud/shoot, and also to blanch it 4.

Plant in a location that enjoys partial sun. Zone 4 to 9 are typically the USDA Hardiness Zones that are appropriate for this plant (although this can vary based on your microclimate). Asparagus needs a sandy and loamy soil with a ph of 6.0 to 6.8 (weakly acidic soil). Keep in mind when planting that Asparagus is thought of as hardy, so this plant will survive close to or on freezing temperatures.

See our list of companion Plants for Asparagus to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Asparagus from seed

Asparagus can be sown indoors and this can be done any time between February and March, about 2 months before last frost. Soak seed for a couple of hours, then plant into individual pots containing moist seed starting mix. Place them in a warm room at approximately 15-18 degrees Celsius then, once germinated, move to to a cool, light area such as a windowsill, but keep them out of direct sunlight. Once the threat of frosts are over they will need to be gradually accustomed to conditions outside – this known as ‘hardening off’ and can take between 2-3 weeks.

Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 1.62 feet (50.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.23 inches (0.6 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 21°C / 70°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Asparagus about 90 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting Asparagus

Once they are ready to be moved out into the asparagus bed proper, they can to be planted fairly deeply into well-run, well-composted, loamy soil. Cover with about 5cm of soil, deeper than the compost in the pots. Choose the asparagus bed carefully, the plants can be productive for up to 20 years. Water well and do not allow to dry out before the buds appear above the surface 4.

You can propagate by division in early spring, after 4 years of growth 4. New pieces should be planted at least 60cm apart and watered well every week until established 4.

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Asparagus is a hardy plant.

Harvesting Asparagus

Harvest asparagus by snapping 7 to 9 inch (15-20 cm) spears with tight tips. There is no need to cut asparagus below the soil with a knife. This may injure other buds on the crown that will send up new spears. The small stub that is left in the soil after snapping, dries up and disintegrates. A new spear does not come up at the same spot, but comes up from another bud that enlarges on another part of the crown.

As the tips of the spears start to loosen (known as “ferning out”), fiber begins to develop at the base of the spears, causing them to become tough. The diameter of the spear has no bearing on its toughness. When harvesting, the asparagus patch should be picked clean, never allowing any spears to fern out, as this gives asparagus beetles an excellent site to lay their eggs.

The year after planting crowns, asparagus can be harvested several times throughout a three-week period, depending on air temperatures. Research shows there is no need to wait two years after planting before harvesting. In fact, harvesting the year after planting will stimulate more bud production on the crown and provide greater yields in future years, as compared with waiting two years before harvesting. If planted from seed, you may have to wait an extra year.

Asparagus spears will start to emerge when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees F. After this, growth of asparagus is dependent on air temperature. Early in the season, 7 to 9 inch spears might be harvested every 2 to 4 days. As air temperatures increase, harvesting frequencies will increase to once or twice per day, harvesting 5 to 7 inch spears before the tips start to fern out and lose quality. The second year after planting, the length of harvest can increase to about 4 to 6 weeks. The third year after planting and thereafter, harvesting can continue for 6 to 8 weeks. Since the length of harvest season will vary from year-to-year depending on air temperature, stop the harvest when the diameter of 3/4 of the spears becomes small (less then 3/8 inch). Experience gained by growing the crop will make it easier for the gardener to know when to discontinue the harvest.

When harvest is finished, snap all the spears off at ground level. Apply fertilizer. Mulch to suppress weeds. New spears will then emerge, fern out, and provide a large canopy to cover the space between the rows. Once a dense fern canopy is formed, weed growth will be shaded out.

Seed Saving Asparagus

Remove plant top when berries are red and head starts to droop. Hang to dry. Soak berries in water then wash off pulp. Air dry seeds. 2

How long does Asparagus take to grow?

These estimates for how long Asparagus takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.

Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

Days to Germination How long does it take Asparagus to germinate?
25 days

Average 25 days | Min 4 days | Max 61 days (36)

Days to Transplant How long until I can plant out Asparagus?
+ 81 days

Average 81 days | Min 53 days | Max 163 days (3)

Days to Maturity How long until Asparagus is ready for harvest / bloom?
+ 720 days

Average 720 days | Min 13 days | Max 744 days (4)

Total Growing Days How long does it take to grow Asparagus?
= 826 days

When should I plant Asparagus?

Our when to plant Asparagus estimates are relative to your last frost date.

Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!

When to sow The number of days to sow Asparagus before or after your last frost date.
90 days before Last Frost Date

Asparagus Etymology

The botanical epithet is from the Latin officinalis meaning “used medicinally”

Asparagus Folklore & Trivia

  • Asparagus was first grown in ancient greece and was primarily used as a medicine rather than an edible plant.
  • Said by some to be good for urinary infections and liver problems. 3
  • Said to be a good general tonic, as well as beneficial to the urinary system (gall-bladder, jaundice, kidney infections), heart disease, rheumatism, flatulence 4
  • The root and berry-like fruits have been used as diuretics 4

Other names for Asparagus

Garden asparagus, Asperge, Argenteuil white asparagus, Argenteuil asparagus

Asparagus officinalis L.

Misspellings: Asparagas

Latest Asparagus Reviews

  • Slower to establish here than the green varieties. Nice flavor-a little nuttier than the green. Spears appear a little more slender than the green. Pretty.

    4 stars

    ElizaK28 about growing Asparagus, Purple Passion
  • Easy to grow, delicious classic asparagus flavor, consistent production, nice once established.

    5 stars

    ElizaK28 about growing Asparagus, Jersey Giant
  • Cleaned out as many stalks as I could (parts were frozen into the snow). I read in Organic Magazine that the asparagus beetle lays its eggs in the stalks, so I’m trying to eliminate as many as possible.

    0 stars

    HollyBee about growing Asparagus

See all Asparagus reviews and experiences »

Footnotes

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants

2 The New Seed-starters Handbook; Published 1988

3 Garden Action – Asparagus

4 :Growing Herbs with Margaret Roberts; First published 1985

Asparagus Forums