Did you know that asparagus is a perennial? And did you know that a healthy asparagus plant can continue growing for 20+ years? I certainly didn’t! In fact, I didn’t know very much at all about asparagus (aside from the obvious yumminess and after effects) until I discovered it growing in our garden.
There’s a round bed in the corner of our garden plot that was still covered in dried leaves as of two weeks ago. When we were cleaning up the garden we pulled the leaves off this bed but didn’t think much about what we would do with it. Now we know we don’t have to do anything at all to this bed. There’s already asparagus planted there!
When I went out to the garden this morning, I was delighted to discover asparagus sticking straight out of the ground. I snapped a photo and texted it to The Mister (“OMG we’re growing asparagus!”) and then immediately ran inside to consult my go-to source for gardening advice, Country Wisdom & Know-How. That’s where I first learned that asparagus is a perennial. As the section entitled Grow the Best Asparagus states, “A well-prepared asparagus bed, in good soil, should produce abundantly for up to twenty-five years. If you can be patient in the beginning you will be rewarded by a wonderful return for your labor.” Woot! Twenty five years of asparagus! Thanks for leaving this behind, previous owners of the house!
The book goes on to say, “It is important to keep the beds weed-free; be especially careful to prevent perennial weeds, such as dock and dandelion, from getting established.” Oops. Did you see all of those dandelions in the first photo? Once I read this, I grabbed my shovel and gloves and headed back out to the garden. I used the shovel to dig the dandelions out of the asparagus bed and to help dig up that grassy weed that was also growing in there.
Side note: I had no idea dandelion roots were so strong and deep! It’s like digging up a damned tree! Geez, no wonder dandelions are so hard to get rid of!
There are a number of stalks of asparagus sticking up out of the ground but from what the books says, I may not want to get greedy about harvesting them. “The first year after planting or transplanting roots,” it reads, “harvest only a few spears or none at all. Those first spears may be hard to resist, so if you do harvest, one or two stalks from each plant should be the limit. The second year you can harvest for two weeks, the third year for four weeks, and in the fourth and following years for eight weeks.”
I can’t be sure how long these asparagus plants have been here. I know that the previous owners were only in the house for two years. That could mean that that the plants are only one-year-old or perhaps two-years-old. To be on the safe side, we’ll probably harvest just a fear spears but leave the others to grow. Apparently “the key to a healthy asparagus plant is a balance between healthy roots and foliage growth.” I don’t want to jeopardize a future full of stinky pee by getting greedy with the asparagus harvesting this year.
If anyone out there has any other asparagus growing tips, feel free to weigh in!