Growing and Saving the Seed Of Asparagus
Latin name Asparagus officinalis is a perennial thought to have originated in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. A good asparagus bed will produce annually for up to 20 years. Asparagus will grow almost anywhere but thrives in northern climates.
In ancient Egypt, asparagus was considered sacred and was used as an offering to the gods. The Romans began cultivating asparagus about 2,000 years ago. After the fall of the western Roman empire, asparagus disappeared from the historical record for most of the medieval period, then reappeared as a medicinal and culinary plant around 1100 A.D.
While asparagus can be grown from crowns (bare roots) for a quicker harvest, starting from seeds is much more economical.
You can harvest asparagus three years after sowing seeds.
Start seeds in a warm, sunny location 2-3 months before the last frost of the spring.
Sow seeds ½ inch deep and 2 inches apart in loose, well-drained soil.
Ideal germination temperature is 65-75 F.
Seeds germinate in 14-21 days.
- Provide a well-drained bed of loose soil in full sun.
Transplant seedlings outdoors 6 inches apart once the threat of frost has passed.
Be sure to keep weeds under control and keep the bed well watered.
Transplant seedlings to their final bed in the early fall or following spring. The final bed should be well worked, amended with plenty of good compost and located in full sun.
Plants should be set 2-3 feet apart and 2-3 inches deep.
Mulch around plants and allow them to grow undisturbed for 2 years in order to let plants become established.
Keep well watered but not soaked.
Avoid the temptation to harvest asparagus until the third year of growth, cutting the shoots with a sharp knife when they are less than 10 inches tall.
- To avoid rot and fungal issues, plant in good quality soil that is well drained.
- Try to orient your row or bed in the direction of the prevailing wind to keep foliage dry.
- When plants go to seed, collect the red berries and squeeze to extract seeds. The seeds are poisonous, so do not eat them!
- Squeeze seeds from berries into a bowl and gently rinse clean with water.
- Air dry and place seeds in the refrigerator for winter to cold stratify them.
- They can be planted indoors in early spring or outdoors after frost has passed.