Asparagus /Asparagus Officinalis/
Asparagus is a perennial herb with feathery foliage that grows to 1.5m. Long-lived plant up to 25 years.
Spears can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed or stir-fried.
Temperate to subtropical.
Asparagus is a perennial. The plant dies back in Winter and the rhizomes become dormant. They reshoot and resume growth with the first rain after the soil warms up in Spring.
Plant in full sun on mounded trenches enriched with compost. Asparagus needs a moist fertile well-mulched soil and does not tolerate waterlogging.
Grows next to streams and the ocean so enjoys being mulched with seaweed for the extra minerals and salt.
When the plant becomes dormant in Winter cut the dead stems off at ground level, cover with compost and mulch.
Don’t harvest in the first 2 or 3 years to allow the crowns to expand.
Divide the crowns of plants that are at least three years old in early Spring, when the plants are still dormant and there is no visible growth.
Carefully lift the crown and roots from the soil and divide into separate crowns. Trim the roots to about 15cm.
Plant in trenches about 20cm deep onto a small mound in the centre of the trench at about 50cm spacing’s. Fill the trench with your best compost.
Can be grown from seed but seed grown plants take an extra year to mature.
New emerging shoots, called spears, are eaten as a vegetable.
Male plants produce earlier in the season, while female plants are thicker and a more tender texture.
Risks and weed potential
Female plants produce small red seeds and can be weedy in the home garden but it is not a problem weed in the subtropics.
Harvesting & Processing
Harvest shoots each Spring, once the plants are established for 2-3 years.
Harvest all spears thicker than your pinkie-finger for 3 months.
Harvest shoots when they are 15-20cm tall with a knife, being careful not to damage emerging spears. After 3 months allow the spears to grow to maturity into ferny tops. This allows the plant’s crown under the ground to regain strength and vigour for the next season.