Growing Great Asparagus

Cheryl Long
May/June 2006
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Asparagus is one of the easiest (and earliest) garden crops to grow ? you only need to plant it once, then it will produce sweet, tender spears every spring for decades. To start a new bed, buy bareroot asparagus crowns at garden centers in the spring. Then try this harvesting tip to extend your fresh asparagus season by at least two weeks:

Instead of the traditional harvesting method ? cutting all the spears when they are 6 to 8 inches long ? allow two or three sturdy spears to grow uncut. Research at Cornell University found that as they leaf out, these 'mother spears' will send solar energy down to the roots and stimulate the plants to produce more spears than traditionally harvested ones.

Here are three more asparagus growing tips to try:

1. If you have a dry spring, keep your asparagus bed well-watered.

2. When you have more asparagus than you can eat while it's still fresh, just blanch the spears briefly in boiling water and pop them in the freezer.

3. Stop harvesting your asparagus once all the emerging spears are thinner than a pencil. This leaves the roots enough energy to produce foliage that will capture solar energy through the summer and replenish the roots for the next season's crop.

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