At MEEP this week we set up our asparagus bed. Asparagus is a perennial crop, its long green fingers coming up year after year. An asparagus plant may grow for 20 years or more. A sunny, well-drained part of the garden will yield the best crop. We planted 20 one-year crowns and 20 two-year crowns. They’re in a bed in the back of the garden. We must NOT harvest the asparagus during this first planting year. Spears will be produced from expanded buds on the crown. As the spears elongate and reach a height of about 8 to 9 inches, the tips will open. If not harvested, the spear will become woody to support the small branches that become ferns. Fern formation is critical to the next year’s growth. The asparagus will keep growing throughout the summer. But, we must stop harvesting at some point so some of the spears can go to fern, the stage when the tips turn feathery. Ferns should not be removed from asparagus plants until after several killing freezes.The ferns produce food for the plant and then move it down to the crown for next year’s spear production. In the winter the ferns will turn yellow, at which point we’ll cut them down in preps for over wintering. Next year we shall be able to harvest asparagus for about two weeks, but then for the rest of the harvesting season, we’ll allow the rest to grow ferns in order to allow the plants to get even stronger. Asparagus can be harvested for about six weeks each year starting at year three in their permanent location.