If you love asparagus and want to grow some yourself, waste no time in getting an asparagus bed planted. Even with the best of care, an asparagus bed won’t hit its stride until several years after planting. Once it starts yielding a crop, the same bed will produce an abundant crop of spears spring after spring for at least the next 20 years.
In the old days, gardeners were told to prepare an asparagus bed by digging an 18” deep trench and then backfilling it with a mix of compost and soil. Today we can plant a strain of asparagus hybrids that are not only less work – the root crowns need only be planted 6″ deep – these modern hybrids produce many more asparagus spears per plant. The production increases are due to the fact that the Jersey hybrids are all-male cultivars, so no energy is wasted producing seeds, and there are no weedy baby asparagus plants to compete with the mother plants. So forget about Martha Washington and the old varieties. Most of the new varieties are also resistant to the two common diseases of asparagus, fusarium rot and asparagus rust.
When planting a new asparagus bed, get rid of all the weeds and grasses first – even if this requires a full year of preparation. Asparagus crowns are usually available just once a year in early spring. So plan accordingly. Once the bed is weed-free, dig a trench about 6″ deep and a foot wide. The crowns should be planted at 18″ intervals, so put a shovel of compost and a cup of all-purpose, organic fertilizer in the trench every 18″. Rock phosphate, a natural mineral powder, is another good addition. Phosphorus, which stimulates strong root growth, doesn’t move through the soil as easily as other nutrients. You only get one opportunity to fortify the root zone, so don’t miss your chance!
Mix the compost and fertilizer together with some garden soil and shape it into a little mound. Set the asparagus crown on top and drape the roots down around the sides. Cover the roots with garden soil and water well. As shoots appear, add more soil until the trench has been filled back to ground level.
Even though asparagus can sometimes be spotted growing in a ditch among thick grass, the domesticated varieties do not tolerate weed competition. No grasses, no weeds. So keep your asparagus bed well-mulched with leaves or straw. For the first couple years, weed often and carefully – the roots are near the surface, and can be damaged by weeding tools. Don’t interplant other vegetables in the same bed. Asparagus hates competition of any kind.
Originally asparagus grew in swamps and wet places, so be sure to keep your soil moist. You may wish to use a simpleif you live in a dry region. Watering is a key to success, especially the first few years.
To keep your asparagus bed productive, don’t get greedy: The first year after planting roots just pick for two weeks – a few spears from each plant. Then increase to four weeks the next year, and six weeks after that. Pick too much, and your plants will not be able to develop the strong root system and energy reserves they’ll need to produce an abundant crop of spears the following season.
Asparagus get on well with most vegetables, but their ideal companions are tomato, parsley and basil.
Twenty-five asparagus plants will yield more than enough for a family of four.
Medicinal Properties of Asparagus
Asparagus Nutrition. In Traditional Chinese Medicine Asparagus the food has wonderful healing power…as does Asparagus Root is an herb with considerable healing power!
Thermically (meaning it has a heating or cooling or neutral effect on the body’s temperature): It is slightly warming…meaning it will warm your body from the inside out.
Taste: Bitter and mildly pungent or spicy tasting.
1. Nourishes or increases Kidney Yin. Therefore it reduces menopause symptoms and other signs of Kidney Yin Deficiency. Beneficial therefore in the treatment of Diabetes.
2. Benefits the Lungs: Reduces phlegm and congestion in the lungs. Stops cough and bleeding, including coughing up blood tinged mucus from the lungs. C. Benefits chronic Bronchitis.
3. Benefits fertility and reduces menstrual difficulties.
4. Moistens Intestines and alleviates constipation…promotes bowel movements.
5. Removes fat and plaque from the arteries.
6. Lowers cholesterol.
Asparagus is an alkaline food
Asparagus is rich in protein but low in calories and carbohydrates. Asparagus is a good source of dietary fiber,
It is an excellent source of potassium, folic acid, vitamins A, C and K, and traces of vitamin B complex. Asparagus is also rich in niacin, phosphorus and very low sodium.
Asparagus is one of the few vegetables that actually has calcium and magnesium in the ideal ratio of 2:1. This is very important in keeping these electrolyte minerals in proper balance.
Acidity: Highly Alkaline: The high alkalinity of this wonder vegetable is effective in reducing the acidity of the blood and helps cleanses cells and tissues and muscles of waste.
Arthritis and Rheumatism: A unique phytochemical in asparagus that produces anti-inflammatory effect helps relieve arthritis and rheumatism and its pain.
Blood Pressure Reducing: Lowers blood pressure in many cases.
Constipation: Consume asparagus regularly for its mild laxative effect and dietary fiber that provides for regular bowel movement.
Cancer: Asparagus is a prime source of the anti-oxidant glutathione that can help prevent cancer.
Cataracts: The anti-oxidants and glutathione in asparagus prevents the progression of cataracts and other eye problems.
Cholesterol Lowering…Reducing: Helps cleanse the arteries of Cholesterol and is beneficial in lowering blood pressure and reversing arteriosclerosis.
Diabetes/Hypoglycemia: An important part of the diet for people who are controlling their blood sugar levels. However, it is not to be taken by people with advanced kidney diseases.
Diuretic: Asparagus is a wonderfully diuretic vegetable and its efficacy is more pronounced when it is taken in juice form.
Heart disease: Drink a small amount of asparagus juice mixed with raw honey three times a day daily to strengthen a weak or enlarged heart.
Kidney Stones: The diuretic and alkaline properties of asparagus help prevent or dissolve kidney stones. It helps break up oxalic acid crystals formed in the kidney.
PMS symptoms: The diuretic effect of asparagus juice helps relieve premenstrual swelling and bloating. The magnesium in this wonder juice also help relieve irritability, fatigue, depression, etc.
Pregnancy…effects on Pregnant women: The high content of folic acid, calcium and other minerals in asparagus is important in reducing the risk of birth defects and low birth weight. The diuretic effect of the juice is also a big help in reducing water retention in pregnant women.
When buying asparagus, choose straight, firm stalks with tight tips. Always eat fresh but if you won’t be eating them the same day you buy them, keep them dry and tightly-wrapped in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and they will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.
When cooking asparagus, it is preferable to steam, rather than boiling them in water to cook them since steaming preserves the enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional factors from boiling away.