Nutritive Value: Asparagus is grown for its soft and tender shoots and are directly used as a vegetable or can be converted to a delicious and nutritive soup. Tender shoots contain 93 percent water, 2.6 percent fibers, 2.0 percent proteins and 0.25 percent fatsand is rich in minerals like sodium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iron and vitamins like B and C.
Soil and Climate: Asparagus is grown best in well grained sandy loam soil with neutral pH in the range of 6.5 to 7.5. It is a temperate region crop grown in the cool climate in hilly areas with very mild climatic conditions.
Important Varieties: Merry Washington and Perfection are important asparagus varieties grown in hilly and cool climatic areas.
Planting and Irrigation: Asparagus can be raised by direct sowing of seeds or by raising seedlings and transplanted in pots or soil beds. Seedlings are planted on ridges prepared at 60 cm apart and spacing between two plants can be kept at 10 cm. Before preparing ridges, the soil should be mixed with a lot of organic manure to maintain sufficient porosity in the soil. Watering should be provided in furrows and direct contact of water with the growing plant should be avoided.
Plant Protection: The asparagus vegetable is comparatively free from pests and diseases. However, in ill drained soil, the crop is infected by fungal diseases causing wilting of the whole plant.
Harvesting: Tender shoots can be harvested after 2 years of growth. Soft and tender shoots, called spears, are cut below the soil surface with the help of a sharp knife. Spears are harvested at a height of 20 to 25 cm before they are converted to vegetative leafy plants.