Asparagus isn’t to everyone’s taste, but for those that enjoy the delicate green spears as a part of a balanced diet, you’ll know how expensive it can be to buy at the store.
The good news is that you can grow your own asparagus in the garden or in whatever space you have. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the different types of asparagus plants and how best to grow them at home.
This is the most common type of asparagus you’ll find on supermarket shelves. Grown widely across most continents, it has the distinct green color that we expect from asparagus. Many varieties are green with purple or rosy tips.
Purple asparagus is similar in taste and texture to green asparagus, but it contains more antioxidants and more sugar, so it can taste sweeter than other types.
This is a delicacy in many parts of the world, mainly because of the expense of the thing. It is white because it is grown in the dark, so it doesn’t develop pigment in the same way as asparagus grown in sunlight.
What You Need To Know To Grow Asparagus At Home:
Within these categories, there are hybrid types which may be both green and purple, for example. Most white varieties are green or purple varieties, that are grown in the dark to prevent pigment growing.
They taste more or less the same as those that are grown in usual conditions. Most of the popular types of asparagus for growing at home are green with darker colored tips.
Some types of asparagus need a year of growth to establish, and then they’ll produce harvestable spears in the second year.
If you’re not the most patient gardener, you can usually purchase asparagus crowns from garden stores.
These are one-year-old dormant asparagus plants that will start to sprout in early spring or whenever they are due to grow.
You should get a small crop in the first year if you grow asparagus from a crown, as long as the growing conditions are good for the plant.
However, the advice is to resist harvesting the asparagus for the first two years after planting to allow the plant to be properly established.
When you do decide to harvest your asparagus, you can do this from April for 6-8 weeks.
Generally, asparagus isn’t a fussy plant, and some varieties will even tolerate frost or drought. The main thing to remember is that wherever you choose to plant your asparagus, make sure the soil is not heavy and is well-drained.
Asparagus usually likes full or partial sun and will thrive in less acidic soil. While asparagus can be grown in troughs or even pots, it’s not usual, because it’s a long-term planting investment.
Due to the time it takes for asparagus to produce a reliable crop, it’s more usual to plant it in a dedicated bed. For a lot of the year, the plant may not be too visible, so it can be tempting to plant other things around it, but this won’t help your asparagus crop.
Try and keep the soil clear of weeds and other vegetation wherever you choose to plant it and if that’s not in a bed, just ensure whatever you use to grow your asparagus in is well-drained, as asparagus isn’t too keen on boggy soil.
Six Varieties Of Asparagus You Can Grow
This variety is an early bloomer and reliably produces large crops. The stalks are usually medium to large in diameter that are dark green.
It’s typically happy in warm or cool climates, so wherever you live, this is a popular and sturdy variety that should thrive.
This is an increasingly popular type that was developed by a university in Canada. It is becoming widely grown in Canada and the United States, so it should suit your climate well.
The stems are bright green with soft lavender-colored tips, which make a lovely colorful addition to your spring dishes.
The Greeks must have loved asparagus as much as we do because several varieties are named after them. This one is aptly named after the Titan who is famed for being strong enough to keep the heavens and earth apart for eternity.
Well, the asparagus tips themselves probably couldn’t actually hold up a globe, let alone the earth, but this variety is particularly able to endure harsher conditions than other types.
It can tolerate frost up to a point and is known to be drought-tolerant. As long as it gets a good six hours of sunlight a day, it should thrive. It is particularly good in hot climates, so is a good, resilient choice if you live in the south.
There are three popular types of Jersey asparagus: the Jersey Giant, the Jersey Knight, and the Jersey Supreme. The Jersey Giant produces very thick stems of asparagus, so are great if you like a meaty spear.
The Jersey Knight is ready to fight off the most common asparagus diseases, as well as endure cold climates. This variety is especially high in vitamins A, B6, and C and is known to be a sturdy and resilient variety.
The Jersey Supreme matures slightly earlier than the other two Jersey varieties and grows well in sandy soil.
Leave enough room around your crowns if you grow the Jersey Supreme because it produces increasingly abundant crops the older the plant gets. By the fourth year, you are likely to have a pretty large crop.
Jersey Growing Zones:
Jersey Giant – zones 4-6
Jersey Knight – zones 3-10
Jersey Supreme – zones 3-8
5.Purple Passion Asparagus
This type is said to be one of the tastiest varieties, and it’s pretty to look at too. As its name suggests, the tips are a beautiful purple color and the stems are a lighter purple with just a hint of green.
Happy in growing zones 3-8, this is a great variety for salads or for cooking. This is a sweet type of asparagus, with up to 20 percent more sugar than other garden varieties.
With the deep purple color and delicious, slightly nutty taste, this will be the star feature on any dining table. Boring sides, step aside. Purple Passion is coming through.
6.Viking KB3 Asparagus
This is a cultivated asparagus, which combines male and female plants. It dependably produces large crops of tall spears. The asparagus spears can get up to ten inches long.
When the stems are about the width of a pencil, it’s time to stop harvesting and let the plant feed itself for the rest of the season.
It is a cultivated variety of the well-known Mary Washington asparagus, which has been popular in America for more than a hundred years.
The Viking Kb3 has been known to produce thick stems as well as tall spears and is an attractive green variety with light purple tips. It’s known to be a vigorous grower and able to thrive in zones 3-9.
Pests And Problems With Asparagus Growing
Just like any plant you grow in your garden, there are specific pests and problems that you need to look out for and potentially deal with.
Most of the varieties of asparagus we have listed are resistant to rust and fusarium, but it’s good to know what to look out for and how to fix common issues you might encounter when growing asparagus.
Asparagus Plant Falling Over-
This is perfectly normal when the plant reaches maturity. The plant can often grow tall and become top-heavy. This is nature’s way of helping the plant to reproduce and to spread seeds.
When the pant droops over, soon after you might notice red berries on female plants which contain seeds. The drooping ensures that the seeds will be deposited far enough away from the plant to give them a chance to establish in new soil where the mother plant won’t be shadowing them and curtailing their growth.
Not Enough Sunlight-
If the plant is not getting enough sunlight, it is likely to grow taller to reach more. This makes them more likely to fall over and less likely to produce large crops of edible spears because the available energy will be spent on the growth of the plant to get more sun.
This should only affect the spears which will turn black and go droopy as they die off when frost hits. This is nothing to worry about. They will grow again in the spring as long as the main plant is healthy.
This is a fungal disease spread by rain and wind which causes orange or reddish-brown spots to appear on the asparagus foliage.
Once the rust has taken hold, the plant may die as the lesions will weaken the stems. To avoid this happening, you can apply a fungicide to prevent the disease from happening at all.
Root Rot – Boggy or over-watered soil can cause the asparagus stems to rot, but root rot refers to the disease contained in the soil, which can impact the lower stem of the plant.
The plant can become infected if drought conditions are stressing the plant. Spears on the plant will become weak, turn yellow, or brown and eventually die.
Crown and root rot are caused by a species of fungi called Fusarium.
The disease lives in the soil and attacks the roots, or even the lower stem, which will stop the plant from receiving adequate water and nutrients from the soil. Signs of this are wilting combined with reddish-brown lesions on the stems and cortex.
The disease can spread from one plant to another as they die off and can kill whole fields of healthy asparagus plants. Once it has set in, it is almost impossible to stop the spread of the fungus.
The best thing you can do to prevent fusarium is to keep your plants healthy and the soil free of invading weeds. Also, keep the soil watered and fertilized to give the plants a chance to withstand the disease.
While there are some common pests and diseases which can affect the yield and lifespan of your asparagus, it’s still a very satisfying crop to grow and as we said before, it can be very expensive to buy in the market.
When the plants reach about ten years old, you may wish to consider replacing them as older plants are more likely to be susceptible to more rots, fungal diseases, and pest problems.
It might be wise to plant another crown when your first crop is about 6 years old, so you can ensure continuous crops if your first one reaches the end of its natural life.