Gardening Report: Asparagus, a Fairbanks perennial

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Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:18 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A dinner staple in many households, asparagus grows year-round at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

Nestled in the Georgeson Botanical Garden, asparagus is one of the few perennial vegetables grown in Fairbanks. Once described as finicky, asparagus is getting more and more reliable for growing in the Interior.

Heidi Rader, Associate Professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said, “Asparagus does like winters to be a bit warmer, and it does like warm weather, so as our winters get warmer and warmer, I think it’s a little bit more feasible to grow asparagus.”

Being a perennial, asparagus is grown year-round, making Fairbanks an unusual choice of location. “If we get 40, 60 below, that’s going to affect those plants quite a bit,” Rader said. The vegetable can be grown from seeds or from crowns, which involve their root systems. Rader recommends planting asparagus in the fall. “You want to dig a trench and plant those asparagus about 6 to 8 inches deep, covering with a little bit of soil, and as the plants grow, you’re going to want to fill in that trench,” she said.

Harvesting should wait at least 3 years. “And then even when they start producing nice-sized spears, about the size of your finger, you don’t want to harvest all the spears, because that’s going to take away some of the plant’s vigor, so you kind of want to harvest a few spears and wait ‘til they get really nicely established, and you’ll get more and more.” Rader said.

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