Asparagus demands little more than a bit of planning before you plant and a dash of patience before you start enjoying eight weeks of delicious spears every spring. Even gardeners in the South and West, where winters are thought to be too warm for growing asparagus, can plant the new asparagus varieties.
1. Plant it once, harvest it for 20 years.
2. Organic, fresh and homegrown vs. soaked in chemicals and trucked in from California (or flown in from Chile).
3. Fancy finger food!
4. Have you checked out the price of asparagus in the supermarket?
5. And the best reason to grow asparagus: Hollandaise sauce!
Go with crowns. You can start asparagus by sowing seed, but most gardeners start with crowns (the dormant roots). Crowns will yield the first harvest a year sooner than seed (two years rather than three). And seeds produce female as well as male plants. Female plants produce less than males for they use much of their energy to set seeds and grow foliage, while male plants put all their energy into making spears. (Red berries after flowering means a female plant.) Experts recommend identifying the female plants early on and removing them. With crowns, you can get male plants only.
Start with a dozen. Crowns look a bit like tangled spaghetti. Buy only crowns that look healthy—avoid those that look rotted or dried-out, brown or shriveled. About one dozen crowns will produce enough to feed one adult in a season; plant as many as 20 crowns per adult if you plan to freeze or can spears.