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Asparagus

Asparagus initially takes a bit of work and patience, but it's well worth it. One of nature's perfect foods, Asparagus could be the foodie icon of spring. Just wait until you've tasted your own freshly harvested spears: unadulterated Asparagus ambrosia, whether you prefer them thin and snapped, or thick and shaved with a vegetable peeler; and raw, steamed, sautéed, roasted or grilled. No other spear will ever come close: once cut, they start to lose their innate sweet succulence. Fresh Asparagus is a guilty pleasure plain, anointed with Hollandaise Sauce, topped with butter and chopped medium-boiled eggs, or incorporated into novel pasta dishes, stir-fries and soups. Fresh Asparagus deserves your finest table setting. It's a celebration of the garden's rebirth. Seed should be sown in a temporary nursery bed, then transplanted to a permanent patch after one season. Once in its permanent spot, it's easy to grow in horticultural zones 4 to 8. It can take up to 4 years to produce spears for harvest without damaging the rootstock for future crops, but you can sneak a few spears for special dinners after 3 years. How could you resist? Deer-resistant.

Average seed life: 3 years.

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Gardening Tips

Asparagus Forever
In spring, Asparagus is the star of the show, its spears popping up like daffodils. But after the spectacular feast, it’s easy to forget that the plants are still growing, with needs just as pressing as those of annual crops. The care you give Asparagus after it bears will insure a good harvest next year.

Removing weeds is paramount, especially rhizomatous grasses that can become entwined with the roots. A thick mulch of spoiled hay will inhibit most weeds, and also help keep the soil moist between waterings. Irrigate the bed in dry weather, and nutrients from the hay will trickle down into the soil and add fertility as well.