Asparagus ‘Mary Washington’
One of the unique culinary pleasures of spring is eating freshly harvested Asparagus. Whether you buy it from your local Grocery store, a Farmer’s Market, have it delivered in your weekly CSA box, or pick it right out of your kitchen garden, fresh Asparagus is a true delight. Originally named for the Greek word (asparagos), meaning “sprout” or “shoot”, this perennial vegetable has been grown for thousands of years. In ancient Rome it was highly sought after and nicknamed “the food of Kings” by King Louise XIV of France.
It is a member of the Lily Family and is closely related to Leeks, Garlic and Onions. This highly nutritious vegetable is low in calories, high in fiber, low in fat, a good source of Iron, Vitamins C, A, K, & E, and an excellent source of Folate. The tender spears can be eaten fresh or cooked. They are especially delicious when lightly roasted with Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt and a squeeze of Lemon.
The variety ‘Mary Washington’ has been the most popular Asparagus grown by home gardeners for over 100 years. They are easy to grow, but require some patience and a long-term commitment. Asparagus plants do not produce spears the first year, but your perseverance will pay off the second year and for many years to come. Plant in a garden bed, along a fence line or in a specifically designated area so that it has room to spread. Make sure to till around the plants so you don’t disturb the rhizomes. Allow about 4-5 feet for each plant. Plant in soil that is rich in organic matter and very well drained. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. (Asparagus doesn’t like wet feet). Under-watering will result in tough and woody spears.
For more detailed information on how to plant and care for your Asparagus plants, consult the Sunset Western Garden Book. We are currently growing 2nd year Asparagus ‘Mary Washington’ in 1 gallon containers – 3 plants per container. Later in the spring, we will also have them available in 6 pack flats. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @clearwatercolornursery to see photos of our daily life at Clearwater Color Nursery.