Asparagus is a perennial bulb and stem vegetable that produces beautiful spears that shoot up out of the soil each spring. It may take 2 or 3 years to really get going, so patience is needed! The first year, the spears will be teeny-tiny. Each year they will thicken & will continue to produce for up to 20 years!! Talk about the gift that keeps on giving;)
Benefits of eating asparagus-
It can help fight cancer:
Asparagus, along with avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts is a rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals.
Asparagus is packed with antioxidants:
It’s the champion of fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals
Asparagus is a brain booster:
Another anti-aging property of this delicious spring veggie is that it may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like dark leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12—found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy—to help prevent cognitive impairment.
It’s a natural diuretic:
It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts.
Asparagus can be used so many ways; roasted, grilled, steamed, sautéed, in stir fry, soup, stews, casseroles, & the list goes on & on! Not only can you eat it fresh, but it freezes like a champ & can be canned as well! Waterless methods like roasting, grilling, & stir-frying will preserve the fabulous nutritional content and antioxidant power of your asparagus.
Asparagus likes cooler weather & is a hardy plant. We even have some wild asparagus that grows around here in our irrigation ditches! We planted our asparagus from crowns (1 year old plants) & they immediately started creeping up out of the ground! Once they are steadily producing, you may have to harvest them a couple times a day! Yes, they are fast growers & a lot of fun to snap them off to eat. My husband has been caught many times in the asparagus patch snacking on raw spears. I have always cooked it first before eating, but when I tried it raw I was completely surprised….it was amazing!! I’ll definitley be including it in some salads this year;)
•Asparagus is planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. The plant is grown from “crowns” (1-year-old plants).
•Make sure all weeds have been removed from your bed, digging it over and working in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost, manure or soil mix.
•Dig trenches of about 6 inches wide and 6 to 12 inches deep.
•Asparagus does not like to have its feet “wet,” so be sure your bed has good drainage. For that reason, raised beds can be a good place to plant asparagus & that is how we grow ours.
•Create a mound in the trench and plant the crowns 15 to 18 inches apart, spreading the roots over the ridge.
•Cover the roots and crowns with soil 2 inches deep and water thoroughly.
•As the stems grow, fill in the rest of the trench with soil, leaving 3 to 4 inches of the stem exposed.
• When the trench is filled, add a 4 to 8 inch layer of mulch and water regularly.
How to care & harvest your plants:
•Do not harvest the spears in the first year as they will pretty thin, but let them completely fern out. To “fern out” means that you have let your plants go into a vegetative state to give the crown a chance to get well established. Next spring, remove the old fern growth from the previous year, and keep an eye open for the new spears to begin emerging. After the growing season, cut down dead foliage in late fall and dress with compost & a layer of mulch for winter.
During the second year, keep the bed thickly mulched, side-dress in spring and early fall, and cut down dead foliage in late fall. You may be able to start harvesting your asparagus this year. Just make sure that you harvest spears that are thicker than a pencil & leave the smaller ones to fern out;)
The asparagus can be harvested for a period of about two to three weeks once the spears start to show. Keep a close eye on your asparagus so that you don’t miss the harvest! After harvest, allow the ferns to grow; this replenishes the nutrients for next year’s spear production.
Don’t have room for a raised bed or garden? You can easily grow them in containers on your balcony or porch as well!!!
With proper care, you will have asparagus for years to come! You will not be disappointed if you choose to raise your own as they are great producers & easy to care for. Not many veggies that you can plant once & continue to reap the rewards for years! One of the best things that you can do for you & your family is to take an interest in where your food actually comes from. There is something incredibly satisfying about eating something that you have grown yourself & knowing that it is free from all those nasty chemicals.
And finally, to address the question: why does eating asparagus cause a strong urinary odor? Asparagus contains a unique compound that, when metabolized, gives off a distinctive smell in the urine. Young asparagus contains higher concentrations of the compound so the odor is stronger after eating these tender shoots. There are, however, no harmful effects, either from the sulfuric compounds or the odor!
So, now that you are armed with all of this asparagus knowledge, get out there and get your hands in the soil!! Life really is a garden…DIG IT!!
Don’t know where to get asparagus crown for planting? I always recommend checking your local suppliers as I am a huge supporter of buying local, but if you can’t find them or they are sold out, you can order them here >> GURNEYS
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