Perennial vegetables are few and far between, so when you find one that looks good in your garden, tastes great on your plate and is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, you've found yourself a must-have crop.
And you don't have to look any further than asparagus! It's one of the healthiest vegetables you can have in your diet because it's rich in antioxidants and nutrients. The health benefits of asparagus are plenty. It contains properties that: protect against cancer, heart disease, aging, inflammation, fungi, viruses, birth defects, osteoporosis, arthritis, hair loss and depression; detoxify the body; and act as an aphrodisiac.
There are tons of great asparagus recipes out there, but it may just be best on its own with a little butter melted over top of it.
Prepare an 18-inch trench filled with 6 inches of compost followed by 6 inches of rich topsoil. Plant your seeds 12-18 inches apart in spring or fall. Spread the crowns over the soil and cover them with 2 inches of soil. Gradually fill the trench with soil as the plants grow.
If planting in fall, fill the trench in completely. Each spring, apply 3-5 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet. Work the fertilizer into the soil before growth starts. Repeat application after the harvest is complete.
Cut the tops back and mulch in late fall to help prevent deep freezing and sudden changes in soil temperature. Limit the first harvest to one or two cuttings by mid-June of the second year. A full crop can be harvested the third year after planting, when the spears are 6-10 inches tall. (If planting 2-year crowns, you should harvest a good supply the second year.) Harvest for 6-8 weeks only, or until about the first of July in the North. When harvesting, snap off or cut spears at ground level to avoid injuring new growth.