This was the year when I finally got around to adding asparagus to the garden. And I went about this in a slightly unusual way – I decided to grow it from seed instead of crowns. Although cost was not my main consideration, it certainly doesn't hurt that growing asparagus from seed is quite a bit cheaper than using crowns, with a packet of seeds costing $7.95 vs. $25 for the same quantity of crowns.
Perhaps had I grown asparagus before, its development would not have been so exciting, but since I really had no idea what to expect, every milestone was a bit of a thrill.
Seedlings emerging in late February
I sowed the seed back in February – 26 seeds in 26 cells – and expected it to be a fairly lengthy wait before I saw anything. But within 11 days, all but 2 had germinated. In the end, I had 100% germination.
I watched intently as those fragile little seedlings grew and, by March 30th, we had a few cells with 2nd spears emerging – it never occurred to me that this would happen at such an early stage…so exciting!
|Second spears in early April|
|Seedlings in mid-April|
|Lots of ferny foliage by mid-August|
|I count 7 spears in this clump|
|Ferns in mid-November|
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
The asparagus was one of the few things that I paid a LOT of attention to this past year – I simply couldn’t walk past that bed without examining what was happening…checking for new shoots, picking out weeds, making sure it was moist enough...you get the picture.
The one drawback of starting asparagus from seed is, of course, that you have to wait one year longer to harvest, which means no asparagus for me this spring and only a spear or two next year (am I EVER looking forward to that!). But going this route should also give me stronger, healthier plants in the long run which, considering asparagus has a 25+ year life span, is well worth that extra bit of patience in the beginning.
I think that now is the most nerve wracking time for me as I wonder how the asparagus will fair over the winter. All of these up and down temperatures can really do a number on perennials, especially those that are not well established. Fingers crossed that the thick covering of straw will keep the plants safe and sound until the “real” spring arrives.