The Mary Washington Asparagus
Landreth actually sells asparagus seed, but we recommend that you start with two year old roots instead, which we also sell. It takes 5-7 years to get an asparagus crop from seed. It takes 2-3 years when you start with roots. Asparagus is native to Eastern Europe, Russia and the Caucasus. It has been cultivated for at least 2000 years and was a favorite of both the Greeks and Romans. Asparagus arrived in the United States with the early colonists. The earliest varieties were purple tipped. Mary Washington was introduced in 1919 by J. B. Norton, a scientist from the US Department of Agriculture who spent his life working on rust-resistant varieties of asparagus. Like the early asparagus varieties, Mary Washington produces thin spears, not the thick spears we find in the grocery stores. An asparagus bed will last about 30 years and then it loses its productivity dramatically. Only plant an asparagus bed if you are going to be in residence for at least 5 years. A mature asparagus bed containing 7 roots, after approximately 5 years, will produce more than 50 pounds of asparagus in one growing season.
Note: I’ve always wanted to grow asparagus, and this year I am going to get started. My grandmothers both grew it, but neither really ate it. When I was a kid I hated asparagus, but the only example I ever had of it was out of a can, boiled to death twice. When I went to college and started cooking for myself, I gave it another try and totally fell in love with it. But, since most asparagus in the grocery store tastes like cardboard since it’s had to travel halfway around the world to get to me, I don’t buy it often. But now…just you wait. There will be SO MANY asparagus recipes on this blog soon. I’m going to have to get creative with it, since 7 roots will produce 50 pounds of asparagus and I plan on planting a lot more than 7 roots.