...as you probably know, asparagus is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 100-150 cm tall. What you may not know is that has been used from very early times as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties. Asparagus is low in calories, contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber, and rutin and used ethnomedically to treat urinary tract infections, as well as kidney and bladder stones. Asparagus is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties (this belief is at least partially due to the phallic shape of the shoots).
They need a well drained soil that still holds water and they do not like heavy clay or acidic soils. Asparagus can be grown in partial shade with success but the best results are achieved when they are grown in full sun.
Asparagus can be grown from seed or one year old plants (known as crowns) can be bought from your local garden centre or nursery. Growing from seed is the cheapest method but it is more time-consuming and it will take you an extra year to get a crop.
Prepare the planting area well in advance, autumn is a good time. If planting crowns, they should be planted in mid-April. Place crown on the top of the ridge and drape the roots either side. Cover with crumbly soil so that the crown top is 8cm (3in) below the surface.
Don't harvest asparagus for the first two years after the crowns are planted and harvested when it is about 15cm (6in) tall. This will allow a good root system to develop.
Cut off the shoots with a sharp knife about 2cm (1in) below the soil surface. You'll need to harvest every 3 days or so because asparagus can grow very, very quickly. In warm and moist soil they can grow 15cm (6in) in a day!