The Edible Garden / Issue 4 / 'Grow for Taste' by Mark Diacono
Photo Jason Ingram
"Think of asparagus as a mini tree, and an asparagus patch as a small orchard, and you'll overcome any sens of hesitancy at having to wait a little while for your first crop. You can grow asparagus from seed but it's best to get young plants known as crowns. Plant them, and the year after next, you'll be cutting succulent spears and for 20 years or more after too. You may be able to get two-year-old crowns, in which case you need wait only a year to allow the plants to establish before you get to eat.

Asparagus, even more than peas, is the vegetable that highlights the value of good miles. Cut a spear in the morning then another in the afternoon and cook them together, and you can tell them apart. Once you've taste your own, it's impossible to make do with overseas, year-round imports. This is real plot-to-plate pleasure, and that late spring/early summer window, when the green spears break the soil, is up there with any in the growers' calendar. I prefer the flavour of the old varieties like 'Connover's Colossal' to most of the newer F1s that are, admittedly, more productive."   -- Mark Diacono, head gardener at River Cottage

Mark, you're making my mouth water and I'm glad I've decided to grow asparagus this year. I love asparagus and don't know why I've put it off so long. Perhaps I perceived it as a difficult crop because it takes a while to get established and requires shrewd harvesting. More importantly, though, it's a fully hardy perennial. What more could my garden ask for?

I've chosen to grow it from seed so the wait will be even longer. (Gah. To think I'd be harvesting this year had I planned this out sooner). I'll be growing:

'Guelph Millennium' (William Dam)
'Jersey Giant' (Restoration Seeds)
'Jersey Supreme' (Restoration Seeds)
'Mary Washington' (Seedville)

To be continued ...

The University of Illinois Extension has some wonderful information on asparagus.


  1. Good luck with your Asparagus. I wish I had space to grow some....

    1. Hey Dan! I'll probably have to sacrifice some crops for it, but I'm trying to incorporate as many perennials as possible. I'm thinking of growing my curbs in containers this year. If it helps with pests, I may do that from now on. That will free up some space.

      Enjoy your carrots! I've left a couple to overwinter as well but I won't be digging them out anytime soon. Still oodles of snow here