Asparagus needs a bit more attention when planting and a fair amount of patience before you start enjoying eight weeks of tasty spears every spring. Even home gardeners in the South and West, where winters are considered to be too warm for developing asparagus, can plant the new asparagus varieties.
Don’t plant until the ground is at least 50 degrees or more. When the time is good for planting, dig a pit roughly 6 inches deep and 10 to 20 inches wide. Space rows 4 to 5 feet apart. Spread around 1 lb. of phosphate per 50 feet of row in the base of each pit. Space the crowns bud side up in the trench about 1½ feet apart, dispersing the roots out throughout the pit.
The health benefits in growing asparagus are definitely important. It is high in saponins (glycosides) and so will have many of the same strengths as Ginseng. The key is not to over-cook it. Stop cooking as soon as the spears go a vivid emerald green – if they turn a flat olive color, that’s too much. Actually many asparagus breeders even save the water the spears were cooked in and drink it as an organic tea. Obviously, the best thing is to eat asparagus raw in salads, and so on.
When to harvest? Do not harvest any spears from the plants in the first year. They may be harvested lightly, for about 2-4 weeks, in the second year.