​Asparagus is one of the first vegetables available in the spring in the New York.

​Asparagus is one of the first vegetables available in the spring in the New York.

Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the first vegetables available in the spring in the New York. Local asparagus sells at a premium because the fresher it is eaten, the better it tastes. As one of the few high value spring vegetables, asparagus is a great crop for vegetable growers.

Asparagus is a perennial plant, so it only need to be planted once. Asparagus is usually planted as one-year old crowns. They can also be planted as 12-week old transplants, but survival is typically lower using this method. You should not take any harvest from your Asparagus plants for the first two seasons of growth. In the third season after planting you can get a limited harvest. Once an asparagus bed is established, if it is well cared for, it can last for over 20 years.

Rutgers University in New Jersey has had a very active asparagus breeding program and has developed a number of varieties well adapted to northeastern growing conditions. These varieties are resistant to some of the common asparagus diseases of the northeast. They are also more productive than the older varieties. Some of these varieties also produce all-male plants, which can be more vigorous and do not produce asparagus seedlings, which can be a weed in commercial asparagus plantings. Many of these varieties have Jersey in the name, such as Jersey Giant and Jersey Centennial.

Asparagus does best in well-drained sites with few rocks. You should also avoid sites where asparagus has been grown previously and sites susceptible to soil erosion or early spring frosts.

The most common pest of asparagus is the Asparagus beetle. The adult beetles, which overwinter under plant refuse and debris along field borders, begin to move to asparagus as the spears first emerge in the spring. These beetles feed on the spears and lay eggs singly in vertical rows, usually near the tip of the spear. The main diseases of asparagus are Fusarium stem and crown rot, Fusarium wilt and root rot and asparagus rust. Both types of Fusarium enter the plant through young feeder roots, spread throughout the root and crown regions, and eventually weaken and kill the plant. Fusarium root rot causes reddish-brown discoloration and decay of the roots. Fusarium stem and crown rot cause discoloration or lesions in stems and crowns. The first symptoms of Asparagus rust appear as small orange patches on spears and on fern branches.

Any cultivar of asparagus can be used to make white asparagus, which is thought to be more tender and have a milder flavor. White asparagus is made by piling up dirt around the asparagus stalks as they grow- depriving the asparagus spears of light keeps the chlorophyll from developing- and keeps the asparagus from turning green.

Asparagus is a popular local spring vegetable in the New York in May and June. There is even a Finger Lakes Asparagus Festival- called Asparaganza at the Good Life Farm in Interlaken at the end of May (typically, it’s on the Saturday before Memorial Day). This festival features asparagus races, asparagus canning classes and the ever popular asparagus ice cream.

Cornell’s asparagus growing guide:

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scenee3ed.html

Another Cornell asparagus growing guide:

https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.cornell.edu/dist/2/2070/files/2013/04/growing_guide_asparagus-1m8wpe0.pdf

An asparagus growing guide from University of Minnesota Extension: https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/growing-asparagus-in-minnesota-home-gardens/

Here’s a guide to cooking asparagus from the New York Times:

https://cooking.nytimes.com/guides/22-how-to-cook-asparagus

For more information about Asparaganza go to:

http://www.thegoodlifefarm.org/asparaganza/

Last updated April 25, 2018