Sweeter and more tender than green varieties, and a colorful option for raw eating in salads. Spears turn green when cooked, but retain their excellent flavor. Tighter spacing (6–8″) is recommended for best market size. One-year-old, hardy crowns. Perennial. (1 Crown = 1 Unit).
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Asparagus officinalis
CULTURE: Asparagus is a long-lived perennial vegetable crop. With proper site selection, preparation, and care, it can thrive for 15 years or more. Asparagus prefers well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 7.0 in full sun or part shade. Soil testing and bed preparation should be completed in the season prior to planting. May not perform well in warmer areas such as TX, MS, GA, LA, AL, or FL, as it may not become dormant, which is needed to prevent frost/freeze damage to crowns in winter months.
GROWING FROM SEEDS: Sow seeds indoors 12-14 weeks before desired transplant date. Sow 1 seed per 2″ cell, ½-¾” deep. Germinate at 75-80°F (23-27°C) day, 65°F (18°C) night. Fertilize moderately as needed. After last frost, plant seedlings similarly to crowns, but use W-shaped furrow. Plant the seedlings in the middle of the W to ensure better drainage. Gradually fill in furrow as plants grow, being careful not to bury any small ferns.
PLANTING CROWNS: Crowns can be planted about 3-4 weeks prior to last average frost date. In a furrow 5-8″ deep (shallower for heavy soils), 12″ wide, place crowns with buds up and roots spread out, 8-14″ apart in-row for green varieties and 6 – 8″ apart in-row for purple varieties (closer spacing creates more slender spears). Allow 3-6′ between rows. Cover crowns with 2-3″ of soil at planting. As spears grow, gradually fill in furrow. Use caution when cultivating to avoid damaging crowns. Keep bed free of weeds (straw or leaf mulch works well) and irrigate regularly during establishment. Allow “ferns” to grow — do not cut until they senesce in the fall. Add compost or aged manure to the beds each fall or early spring.
HARVEST: One year after planting, beds can be harvested in spring for 7-10 days; 2 years after planting for 2-3 weeks, and up to 6 weeks in the third year. Marketable spears are approximately 7″ in length and pencil-size or larger in diameter. Harvest by bending spears over until they snap, or cut just below soil surface. Cease harvesting when spears are less than pencil-size. Store harvested spears upright at 36°F (2°C) and 95-100% relative humidity for up to 2 weeks.
PACKET: 30 seeds,