I have not yet been out to the garden today, but I am heading over there a little later to check on the plants (especially after that heavy rain yesterday). I will probably do some weeding around the carrot bed and maybe transplanting some of the nasturtiums from the sunflower bed. I am also planning to take lots of pictures today, so I can publish them here, on the blog. When I write about the garden, you should be able to see what I’m talking about. I think pictures will also help us track the growth of our tasty food!
When I was out at the garden on Monday, I noticed the asparagus plants are growing rapidly. They don’t look like typical asparagus, but tall, very thin asparagus. they are probably at least 3 feet tall, but only the girth of a pencil. I wasn’t too sure about how asparagus grow, so I did some research.
If you want to grow a vegetable garden and need some information, I strongly suggest this website. It is written specifically for northern Illinois (zone 5E), and is very detailed. Give it a look if you’re curious.
Asparagus is an exceptional perennial. It is the most common vegetable to grow in the wild (in the US), mostly along roadsides. Due to the fact that asparagus plants do not produce immediately after being planted, but can last for decades, they should be planted out of the way (where they won’t be disturbed by annual gardening activities). Asparagus is one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in early spring, and it is often seen first at the Farmers’ Market. It is native to the Mediterranean area, and it was eaten by ancient civilizations.
The asparagus plant is either male or female (dioecious); the female plant produces seeds, drawing energy from spear production, and sometimes causing overcrowding in the bed. The female plant does produce more spears, but they are smaller. Male plants can produce thicker, larger spears because they do not divert energy to seed production. A well-kept asparagus bed can last 15-20 years, so do your research before choosing which asparagus variety you want!
Most gardeners plant both male and female plants (1:1). After the first year, small red berries should form on the female plants in late summer. These then fall to the ground, sprouting plants that essentially become perennial weeds in the asparagus bed.
According to the University of Illinois Extension “As asparagus plants grow, they produce a mat of roots that spreads horizontally rather than vertically. In the first year, the top growth is spindly. As the plants become older, the stems become larger in diameter.”
Asparagus does take a long time to establish. It can be harvested the third year after planting crowns, but for no more than one month the first season, if spears are removed too often, it will weaken the root system.
“It was once cultivated for medicinal purposes as a natural remedy for blood cleansing and diuretic properties. During the Renaissance, asparagus was also promoted as an aphrodisiac and banned from the tables of most nunneries.”
Cool! Happy Gardening!