The Q&A Archives: Asparagus

Question: I planted asparagus last year from bare roots and fern foliage did well all summer, however, I never did get any asparagus. I have been gardening for 30 years but have never planted asparagus. Will I get any vegetable this year from the plants? How long do asparagus plants last and finally, where exactly does the vegetable grow in relation to the fern leaves?

Answer: The fern leaves ARE the asparagus! They are picked before they leaf out. Just as they emerge from the ground they are in the form of "spears". You pick them before they leaf out. Usually they'll be about a foot tall and look just like the ones you buy in the store...but SO much better!

You did the right thing however. You should not pick them for the first few years. They need to develop a healthy root system. So this year, just watch and figure out when you COULD pick. I would guess the spears are very thin still. Give them another season. Let them grow lots of ferns! In the fall, cut back the dead foliage and mulch heavily with compost. (You could put some good compost on them right now as well. They'd benefit from the extra spring "jolt".)

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