Plant asparagus by selecting a site where you'll be happy for them to grow for 20 years or more. This perennial is one of the first goodies to appear in your garden, so take care in site selection and preparation. Asparagus does need to be grown in an area that gets frost.

Asparagus crowns are found at many garden centers in the spring. Light and well draining soil is preferred, as standing water will rot the roots. Soak the roots for a few minutes prior to planting. Dig a 12" deep trench and plant the crowns about 2' apart. Cover with 2-3" of soil now, then add another inch or 2 of soil every 2 weeks until the crowns have been covered to the level of the surrounding soil. Mulch well to minimize weed growth.

Now comes the hard part. DON'T HARVEST ANY SPEARS FOR THE FIRST 2 YEARS as this inhibits their ability to put down strong roots. When you are ready to harvest, simply break off the spears when they're 6" to 8" tall at ground level. Don't wait too long after the spears emerge because they grow so quickly that a 3 day old spear can be too tough to eat. Female shoots produce fernlike foliage that you can leave in place. After frost they will turn brown and dry; it's ok to leave these on the plants to winter over, but remove the dead stalks before spring.

A good source of B vitamins, vitamin C, iron and calcium.

After cutting, store them standing up with the cut end down in a glass of water in the fridge where they'll keep well for a week.

Oh asparagus, how I do love thee!

*Grill or roast asparagus by rubbing a bit of oil and garlic on them first

*Serve raw with dip

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