Some folks don’t know that asparagus is a subarctic hardy perennial, perfect for most northern growing zones! Hardy all the way down to zone 3 and up to zone 10, it surprises some northern gardeners that they can grow such a culinary delicacy right in their back yard! We’ve had very good survival rates in our zone 3 garden, probably close to 90% survival over their first winter.
Asparagus can be easily grown from seed, typically sowing them around 12 weeks to last frost. Even now would be a fine time for sowing them, though. We are growing the Mary Washington variety, the most common type you will find. There’s also an alternate sowing method using what are called crowns. We’ve found crowns a bit more difficult to acquire, but it does allow sowing directly into your beds around last frost as opposed to starting them from seed so early. From seed is our favorite, though, as they produce an incredible fern like growing stalk and are just an attractive plant all around. (Which also makes them a serious pain to photograph due to their fine leafing structure.)
Asparagus will tend to “migrate” and spread out a bit, so it’s good to select a relatively isolated bed for growing them. You want to offer each plant about a foot of growing space to fully fill out. As with most perennials, it will take several years before you will get harvestable crop. Typically the third year is your first harvestable season, but asparagus will continue to produce for 20 to 30 years after sowing!
We are super excited as this will be our third year growing them and we *might* be able to get a small harvest! Our eleventy billion feet of snow can seriously start melting all ready!