Grown for its edible stalks, Asparagus is usually planted in January or February, as soon as the soil is not frozen and workable. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable with a high yield – 8 to 10 pounds or more per 100 square feet of bed space. The nice thing about planting asparagus is it keeps producing for 15 to 25 years and does not require replanting year after year.
Asparagus is pretty low-maintenance. It is grown from one-year-old plants called “crowns”, and takes about three years from the time the crown is planted to reach full production. Since asparagus plants produce for several years, good seedbed preparation is essential. Soil should be free of trash, insects and weeds, and tilled to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Asparagus grows best in well-draining soil with a high pH level. Before planting asparagus, fertilize seedbeds with 2 to 3 pounds of 10-20-10 fertilizer per 20 feet of row.
Since asparagus will be in the same place for several years, choose just the right spot – a sunny one. Plant rows 4 to 6 feet apart and crowns 12 to 14 inches apart. Crowns should be planted in furrows at least 6 inches deep. Avoid planting crowns too close together because crowded plants produce small spears. Water asparagus plants often and deeply.
Caring for your Asparagus Plants
Asparagus plants require little maintenance after the first two years. The main thing to do is keep beds weed-free and till the soil with fertilizer in early spring before spears begin to grow. After the last harvest in late spring/early summer, cut back all top growth and cover with a 3-inch layer of clean straw. Water thoroughly and allow the plants to grow the rest of the season. They will develop ferny foliage that helps the roots store food and insure a good harvest next season. Once the ferny tops turn brown, and after the first hard frost, cut them off at ground level and mulch with manure.
Here is a simple recipe to make after you’ve harvested your fresh asparagus spears”
10 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Lightly coat asparagus with cooking spray; place on prepared baking sheet. Combine Parmesan cheese and garlic salt in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes; turn asparagus and continue baking until tender, about 6 minutes.
4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese mixture over asparagus.
This recipe from allrecipes.com yields 2 serving and is ready to eat in 20 minutes.