Mary Washington Asparagus
Mary Washington Asparagus
After its release in 1919, 'Mary Washington' became the most popular standard asparagus variety grown. Although no longer used in commercial production, 'Mary Washington' is a parent of many of the modern hybrid varieties.
'Mary Washington' asparagus was bred by Dr. J. B. Norton of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was one of his releases in the "Washington line" of asparagus varieties. Other varieties included 'Martha Washington' and 'Waltham Washington' but it was this variety, 'Mary Washington' that offered more uniform size, as well as resistance to asparagus rust. Click Here for planting instructions. Each packet contains one gram, which is approximately 30 seeds.
Planting Instructions: Start the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse 60 to 90 days prior to your last expected frost date. Direct seeding into the garden is not recommended. Soil temperature is important for germination but even under perfect conditions, germination can take quite a while. Soaking seeds in warm water for four to six hours or nicking the seed coats prior to sowing will improve germination times.
Choosing the location to establish your asparagus bed is important. This is a "homesteading" task and one that many pioneers performed. You can still find asparagus beds along the old fence lines of many an old homestead property. The point here is to not only choose a location with the optimal growing conditions, but one that you will be happy with for years to come.
Choose a location that receives full sun. Four to six hours of daily sunlight would be considered a minimum amount. Since the plants like to grow deep roots, well drained, heavily composted soil is required. Asparagus likes to be fed - manure and compost are very important to successful crops. A good, balanced, organic fertilizer with a composition of 10-10-10 applied in the spring is beneficial.
If you live in a location where the winter soil can freeze, trim the plants in the fall and cover the bed with six inches of straw or a foot or so of leaf mulch. In the spring, as the temperatures start to rise, uncover the beds and allow them to gradually warm up. This is also the right time to apply your spring fertilizer feeding. Mulching over winter also helps reduce the weeding task. Maintaining a weed free asparagus bed is also very important.
As previously noted, it is very important to allow your plants to become established and for the root crowns to grow big and strong. By not harvesting for a few years, it allows the plants to grow and store food reserves in the roots that will result in larger spears the following year.
- http://ohioline.ag.ohio-state.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1603.html - Ohio State University Extension Service Fact Sheet, "Growing Asparagus In The Home Garden."
- http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/7234.pdf - Asparagus Production In California, Detailed, Four Pages, Adobe Acrobat Reader Required.
- Easy Gardening...Asparagus - Texas Agriculture Extension Service Asparagus Fact Sheet.
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