If you enjoy store-bought asparagus, then you’ll love asparagus that has been freshly harvested directly from your home garden. The crispness, flavor, and color of homegrown asparagus are beyond compare. Very tasty, indeed! And growing and enjoying asparagus is so easy!
And not only is asparagus tasty, but a half-cup serving of these long, elegant spears has only 20 calories and is packed with nutrition and health benefits for you.
Asparagus plants are what I call “prolific perennials”—once established, your asparagus garden can yield bountiful crops for up to 30 years! A little work up front will yield spears and spears of this crop—that King Louis XIV of France declared “the king of vegetables”—for years to come.
Here are five key tips for growing and enjoying asparagus:
1. Do have patience when it comes to getting started with growing asparagus.
Getting an asparagus garden started requires a bit of initial work. There’s figuring out where to plant your asparagus (they need plenty of space). And what to plant near your asparagus (basil, parsley, and dill work!) and what to keep away from your asparagus, because these plants can stunt the growth of your asparagus (potatoes, onions, and garlic). Then, you have to prepare your soil and ensure a well-drained area. Finally, after planting, you have to be patient. You won’t have a meaningful harvest for several years … and even longer if you start from seeds. Asparagus is slow-growing, but once you have a producing asparagus garden, it can go on for decades. The wait is totally worth it.
2. Don’t harvest your asparagus too soon.
Asparagus takes a long time to get going, particularly if you start it from seed. We recommend not harvesting the yield from the first couple of years, to ensure the plants establish a strong root system and energy reserves for bountiful crops in the years to come. Once your asparagus bed is established, break off the stalks at ground level when they are 5 to 7 inches tall and before the tips begin to loosen. If you harvest more asparagus than you can eat, cut off woody ends, blanch the spears, and chop and freeze them for later use in soups and other dishes throughout the winter.
3. Do water and weed your asparagus garden on a regular basis.
Asparagus watering frequency depends on how hot it is and how often they receive water naturally from the rain. Most of the time, an inch of water per week is plenty—and that includes natural rainwater. In drought conditions, a deep soaking every 10 to 14 days is recommended. If you stick your finger into the soil and it’s not moist a couple of inches down, it’s probably time to water. Once your asparagus plants have started growing, the space in between plants will fill in—and that will smother most weeds. However, asparagus plants need moisture and lots of nutrition to get established, so it’s vital you nip weeds—and grasses—in the bud. When it comes to weeding asparagus, early and often is best. If you’ve used weed-free soil and well-rotted organic matter, and laid down mulch, you shouldn’t have a big weed problem.
4. Don’t peel asparagus when getting ready to cook it.
When getting ready to cook asparagus, don’t peel the stalks. It’s tedious, wastes time, and can compromise how much of the stalk is available to eat. Rather, if you bend the stalks at the woody end, they will naturally snap at the best point for optimal edibility. Some cooks argue about which method is best—snapping or peeling—but we recommend that if it’s good enough for Julia Child, it’s good enough for you! Plus, peeling off the outer skin can remove essential nutrients.
5. Do peel asparagus when adding it to a salad.
When using asparagus raw, it’s delightful to peel it with a wide-area vegetable peeler and get thin and curly pieces to spruce up a salad. Just be sure to thoroughly wash and dry your asparagus stalks before using them raw. And you can even chop the tips raw and add them to your salads.
Do you want to start growing and enjoying asparagus? Believe me, it’s easy and tremendously beneficial! Check out our gardening guide Asparagus—King of the Garden to learn everything you need to know about growing and enjoying asparagus for years to come! And this asparagus gardening guide has lots of easy-to-make and tasty recipes for you—check it out now!
What else would you like to know about growing and enjoying asparagus? Have a tip or recipe to share? Please leave your questions and comments below.