Patience is the game to play when you are attempting to plant asparagus seeds. After around two years, the bed will be installed, and the plants will reseed themselves yearly for a nearly endless supply of crisp and tender asparagus. The tender shoots can be cooked, can be eaten raw, pickled, or even frozen. Many enthusiastic home gardeners place a fence around the bed to keep rabbits and deers away. The first tender shoots to be cut from a new bed are called sprue.
Formerly, asparagus seeds were harvested in the Asian and Eastern Mediterranean regions, starting from around 3000 B.C.E. Records depicts cultivations for centuries, as they are covered extensively in an ancient Egyptian frieze. The oldest cookbook that has been identified includes preparation guidance for asparagus as well as other herbs. They were dried and frozen by ancient populations of Romans and Greeks. History offers a glimpse into the prevalence of asparagus through the eyes of Emperor Augustus. He built an Asparagus Fleet to celebrate bounties of this happiness back to the royal table.
The plant soon expanded throughout Northern Europe and over the ocean to the whole New World. It was deemed to contain medicinal properties as well as being an aphrodisiac. Poems and songs were written in its honor, praising its flavor and properties.
Heirloom asparagus seeds provide a nutrient-rich vegetable that is beneficial to anyone who enjoys the delicious flavor and low-calorie it presents. It is rich in antioxidants but also includes potassium, folate, and vitamin C. When picked, the stalks carry mostly water. If the plants become too dry while developing, they will be bitter and woody.
Raising asparagus seeds demands planning and soil preparation in an area left uninterrupted for several years. It is deemed an easy to grow plant that grows in coastal regions where salt exists in the soil. Asparagus gardeners have used the mixing of salt as a week killer; however, testing a small area before implementing it to the entire bed is suggested.
How to Plant Asparagus Seeds?
Prepare after selecting your asparagus bed properly — this crop will occupy the same place for at least two decades. It can stand some shade, but full sun presents more healthy plants and helps reduce disease. Asparagus does best in clearer soils, drain well, and warm up quickly in spring; standing water will instantly rot the roots.
Asparagus plants are monoecious, which means each asparagus plant is either female or male. Some asparagus varities, such as Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight, produce all-male or essentially male plants, so they’re more productive — male plants yield more potent shoots because they don’t have to invest energy in composing seeds. Stick to an all-male asparagus variety if the high yield is your primary goal.
With an all-male variety, 20 plants are usually enough for a household of four; double that number for standard types.
To plant asparagus crowns:
- Dig trenches 15 inches wide and 8 inches deep down the prepared bed center.
- Soak the crowns in compost tea for 30 minutes before planting.
- Place the crowns in the trenches 1.5 to 2.5 feet apart; top them with 2.5 to 3.5 inches of soil.
- Three weeks later, add additional two inches of soil.
- Keep adding soil periodically until it is slightly elevated above the surface level to allow for settling.
- Water regularly during the first two years after planting.
To Harvest asparagus crowns:
- Please do not harvest any asparagus stems during the first couple of years that plants are in the permanent bed because they need to put energy into building deep roots.
- During the third season, pick the stems over a month, and by the fourth year, increase your harvest to eight weeks.
- In early spring, harvest spears every 72 hours; as the weather warms up, you might have to pick your asparagus a couple of times daily to keep up with production.
- To harvest, carefully cut asparagus spears with a garden knife or snap off the spears at, or right below, ground level with your three fingers.