Asparagus is extremely nutritious and has many health benefits! The ‘Jersey Knight’ asparagus is an all-male variety and produces up to three times as much asparagus as older, open-pollinated male/female varieties, such as Martha Washington. ‘Jersey Knight’ asparagus produces thick, flavorful spears with purple tips & despite being so thick they are tender and sweet. The plant is highly resistant to rust and tolerates most climates. Asparagus takes three years to become well-established, but the savory, succulent spears are worth the wait. Though it takes up space in the garden and time for establishment, no other vegetable gives you as much in return as asparagus. The tall, feathery fronds blend nicely with other perennials and if well established, a bed can produce for up to 15 years. When picking a spot for your bed, find a sunny spot that is well drained that will not be disturbed for years to come.
Do not pick ‘Jersey Knight’ asparagus the first year. You’ll see tender spears emerging, but resist the urge to harvest them. The spears will grow into lacy ferns, which store energy and food for the growing plants. You’ll have greater yields and healthier plants in subsequent years if they develop strong roots the first year or two. If the ferns grow shoulder high the first year, you can pick the spears for two weeks during the second year. By the third year, you can harvest a full crop of asparagus, picking all the spears that emerge for six to eight weeks. Don’t pick any spears that are smaller than your finger and stop picking when the spears become spindly and smaller than a pencil.
Asparagus gets top dollar at the supermarket, but commercially grown spears never measure up to the delicate sweet flavor of homegrown. Asparagus is a hardy perennial and is a highly productive vegetable. Grown for the stems or spears, a well tended planting yields 8 to 10 pounds or more per 100 square feet of bed or 24 to 30 pounds per 100 feet of row. For most home gardeners, one row is adequate. An asparagus planting lasts 15 to 25 years without replanting if it is well cared for and the climate is suitable.