Asparagus have been cultivated as a vegetable for over 2,000 years. The shoots that emerge in spring, which are called “spears”, can be eaten raw, although most are cooked. These spears initially have small, scale-like leaves that give way to fern-like fronds as summer continues.
Asparagus officinalis (Garden Asparagus)
Hardiness Zones: 3-10
Height: 1.0-1.2 meters (3-4 feet) tall
Diameter: 45-60 centimeters (18-24 inches) tall (spears to 0.4 inches in diameter for cultivar ‘Jersey Knight’)
Growth Rate: rapid in late spring,6-12-12 NPK fertilizers before and after growing improve overall health
Root System: develops a crown after a year of growth
Subspecies: ‘Jersey Knight’ (mostly male cultivar) and ‘Jersey Gian’ and ‘Jersey Gem’ and ‘UC 157’ (all produce high yields) ‘Purple Passion’ (large spears), ‘Martha Washington’, ‘Mary Washington’,
Tolerates: heavy/clay soils
Problems (major): Unwanted plants (weeds) and Bacterial soft rots significantly harm growth and health.
Problems (minor): fusarium, root rot, crown rot, asparagus, japanese beetles
Poisonous: may cause minor, short-lasting dermatitis and low amounts of toxicity upon ingestion
Soil requirements: prefers medium/loamy, fairly mpost, nurtient-rich, well-drained soil with a pH 6.0-6.5, tolerates light/sandy and medium/loamy and heavy/clay soils
Air requirements: not sufficiently researched
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: full sun
Stem structure: initially spears that give way to fern-like foliage
Leaf shape: scale-like, alternate, spiny
Leaf size: small
Flower structure: 1 or 2 pendant flowers, axillary, drooping, imperfect, simple, yellow-green
Flowering frequency: August, seeds ripen by October
Fruits: globose, red berries with 2-4 seeds each
Monoecious/dioecious: Dioecious, males do not produce seeds and frequently have better crop yields by about 25%.
Harvesting: Snap spears once they are about 25 centimeters (10 inches) tall, but be careful to avoid damaging the primary crown. Do not harvest during th first year of growth, and slowly increase the amount harvested every year.
In early spring, these send up “spears” (edible shoots) freuqnelty harvested into May. Aspargus should be planted in Febuary or March about 10 centimeters (4 inches) into the soil.
These are commonly grown as a vegetable, eaten either raw or cooked.
Fern-like foliage (uploaded by Aceera BV on 6 September 2011)
Emerging spears (uploaded by C. T. Johansson on 17 May 2014)
I do not own the rights of these images; all credit goes to its original creator(s).