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Environment
Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Asparagus

Asparagus shoots begin to rise from the ground.
Sigfrid Lundberg
/
Creative Commons
Asparagus shoots begin to rise from the ground.

Asparagus is one of the few perennial vegetables we can grow and, if cared for well, can produce for decades. Asparagus is not only tasty, it's talented.

A woman in England tosses asparagus into the air and can predict the future by how the spears fall on the ground. She's known as the asparamancer and has made predictions about the royal family, weather, and politics. I'd rather just eat these tasty morsels.

The big revolution in asparagus breeding was the creation of all male Jersey varieties. These plants produce few flowers and seed and more spears. New improved, all-male varieties include Millennium, a Canadian variety adapted to clay soils, and Pacific Purple has purple spears that turn green when cooked.

Yellow asparagus are green varieties that have been blanched by covering the small spears with a black pot or plastic. They are tender with a mild flavor.

Site a new asparagus bed in full sun on well-drained soil. Dig a 1-foot-deep trench, amend the soil with compost so the trench is 6 inches deep. Make small soil mounds 1 foot apart at the bottom of the trench and lay the spider-like asparagus roots over the mounds so the crowns are about 3 inches deep. Backfill with more soil and keep well-watered.

For established beds, keep them well-weeded. Add compost each spring and fertilize, if your spears are a small diameter, with a balanced organic product. Harvest for about 6 to 8 weeks starting the third year. Then let the whole patch grow into ferns. Cut them to the ground in fall.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about new flower containers. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

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