Delectable Perennials: Asparagus

asparagus-cropped

 

Asparagus, a delicious symbol of early summer, is a wondrous thing to have fresh from your own garden. A perennial vegetable, it’s one of the components of a permaculture garden, and once planted, you could be harvesting spears for many, many years, a true heirloom vegetable. Of course, one of the main benefits of growing any of your own vegetables is that can ensure that they’re organic. Larry Hodgson in Canadian Gardening writes on asparagus:

Many home gardeners keep theirs going for 40 years or more. That means you have to be especially picky about where you plant it — usually not in the middle of the vegetable patch.  If you’re only growing a few plants — two or three asparagus plants are probably sufficient for a family.

 

Anyone wanting to cultivate asparagus must exercise patience, as asparagus grown from seed will take several years to bear fruit. The reason being is that the first couple years of growth must be left, and not eaten, to allow the plants to mature. If you are the patient type, go for it. After the wait, all the hard work is done, and you never need to replant. That’s the joy of a perennial crop. Plus, you’ll be able to brag forever you grew your asparagus from seed.

However, the quickest way to get asparagus to the point where you can harvest is to start with already grown roots, or ‘crowns’. Many asparagus growers and seed companies sell them. Raised beds are ideal.

Dig individual planting holes or, if planting an asparagus bed, a trench. Plant with the tip of the crown set about 15 centimetres below the ground, then cover with three to five centimetres of soil, gradually filling in the hole or trench as the shoots become taller. Space plants about 30 to 45 centimetres apart, with the same distance between rows.

With no vegetable patch at hand, you could even add a few asparagus plants to the perennial border, the tall, flowery heads are very decorative.

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