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How to Plant and Grow Wild Asparagus

Updated on February 20, 2017
Joined: 5 years agoFollowers: 532Articles: 77
Wild asparagus shoot.
Wild asparagus shoot. | Source
'Asparagaie'
'Asparagaie' | Source
Asparagus plant
Asparagus plant | Source

Searching for Asparagus in the Countryside

Here, you'll find everything you need to know about how to plant wild asparagus, how to forage for it, and more, including...

  • How to identify it (since it is really camouflaged among the grasses)
  • Where and when to find it
  • How to dig it out (with the crown or root)
  • How to plant (from the crown or from seed)
  • How fun it is to pick
  • How to prepare a wild asparagus pasta dish!

How to Identify Wild Asparagus Plants

The wild asparagus plant, produced without any assistance or manipulation, Nature's gift, is a fine bush of green angel's hair, ghostly fine and fuzzy-looking. Country people here in Tuscany call the areas where the plant grows wild asparagiaia. The asparagus shoots grows independently from the plant, straight up, sticking from the ground like miniature fleshy Chrysler buildings. The wild kind is slimmer than its cultivated brother and unlike him, the stems are not pale but a camouflage-green. (It can be almost brown in color if it is in a shady area. It will be pale green if it stands in the sunlight all day long.) People who are good at spotting wild asparagus would also be good at spotting octopus in coral. It takes a well trained eye, but once you spot it, like kissing, you will never forget it.

The shoots grow within a three feet radius of the plant.
The shoots grow within a three feet radius of the plant. | Source

Where to Forage for Asparagus Crowns

You will find wild asparagus thriving today in North America and Western Europe in gritty, grassy areas along walls, ditches, field borders, park fences, reservoir banks, wooded areas, rural roadsides, prairies, and inaccessible sea slopes—if you can spot it!

Look for it where it thrives—at the edges of undergrowth, where the sun shines. There the fine pale-green, ghostly bushes quietly hide among the stronger undergrowth of leaves and twigs. The green asparagus shoot will be standing in front of your eyes, slightly to the side of the plant, sometimes as far away as three feet. Independent and proud as it is, at first you just can't see it, till, there it is! You recognize it. And another one. And more.

It loves lots of space underground and produces more asparagus shoots as the spring season progresses. It needs to be wild. (Some farmers plant it alongside ditches to stop erosion because of its extensive root formation.)

A word of warning: Trespassing on private property is unlawful, since it is considered theft to dig plants from land you do not own. Either you'll need to procure the landowner's permission. Perhaps offer his wife a box of chocolates, promise to close the gates behind you, and not litter. Try all sincere ploys. You could even offer the farmer some of your asparagus. Why not?

What You Will Need for Your Search for the Wild Plants

For this asparagus (crown) hunt, you will need:

  • a garden trowel
  • a basket of some sort, or a bucket or sack to put the crowns in
  • a walking stick (to move back prickly plants—make sure there are no snakes)
  • long pants
  • hiking boots or sturdy shoes or even Wellington boots if it is raining.

New asparagus plant.
New asparagus plant. | Source

Did You Know?

  • The wild asparagus we have growing in our hedgerows in Tuscany is the same as the kind found growing in Ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Egyptians cultivated it from wild 2,000 years ago.
  • It comes from the Persian word "asparg" which means shoot.
  • It stimulates erotic desires. An Arabian love manual provides an aphrodisiac recipe since it contains plenty of vitamin A and C and taken over three consecutive days will have a most powerful effect!

Dig a hole.
Dig a hole. | Source
Plant the wild asparagus.
Plant the wild asparagus. | Source

How to Take Out the Plants

  1. First, find the asparagus plants. Here in Tuscany, they will be in the asparagaie.
  2. With your trowel, dig round the plant—ideally after a rain when the ground is moist. The bigger the plant, the bigger the area you'll dig round the base. The bigger the plant, the more asparagus it will yield.
  3. For larger plants, dig proportionately wider (say 12" wide on a large plant) and deep (about 12- 20" depending on the size of the plant) in order to avoid damaging the crowns.
  4. Take the crowns carefully out of the soil.

When to Plant Asparagus

They are hardy and will survive with little attention...

  • as long as the soil is well-drained and moist,
  • if they have about 6 feet of space around them in all directions for their roots to do their thing,
  • if they're planted in a sunny location, and
  • with plenty of water for the first few weeks.

If you follow these steps in the spring, you may leave them through the summer.

Smaller plants, taken out of the ground at the end of spring, need to be planted straight away before the roots dry.

If you dig up your wild asparagus crowns at the end of summer, however, you can keep them in a dry place through the winter (such as your garden shed, barn, or garage).

Plant them in early spring (after threat of frost).

Planting by the side of the house.
Planting by the side of the house. | Source

Where to Plant the Asparagus Crowns

We plant our asparagus plants along the side of the house where there is a gritty soil and a lot of sun. Each year, another asparagus plant waves bushy, frizzy-green against the stone walls; nearby, a tender shoot springs up. Interestingly, many other market garden plants (such as peppers and eggplant) do not do as well as our wild asparagus in that area. We think it is because the soil isn't rich enough for them there.

Asparagus crowns, with (or without) their little tuft of green shoots, can be planted in rows in a market garden like other proud vegetables; in tilled, well watered, mulched earth, high soil pH values (around 7.0). leaving about five feet between each crown for root growth.

I think they do very well planted at a distance from each other all along garden fences, or at the back of a garden where they can spread out and multiply randomly, which they like. It's a good idea to plant them along driveways to keep the banks in place. It would be like a homecoming for them and they would trumpet their happiness.

You can harvest asparagus to eat all through the spring season (from late February till May when the grass is too high to pick them and they have begun to dry in the hotter sun, and turn weedy to look at, almost flowery). Each shoot can grow six or seven inches in one day after a rainfall.

At the end of spring, the unpicked asparagus stems grow in a wild way, bending this way and that, getting fine and becoming the plants of the next year.

Asparagus Seeds

When you plant from seed, it takes twice as long to get to eat the asparagus because it takes 10 weeks for them to germinate before you see any green growth. Then, you'll wait for two more years until the roots promulgate and the plant grows and produces for a decent production (instead of one lonely asparagus at a time, in two years you could have five or six).

Seeds come from the red pods which grow on the female asparagus plant. Pick the pods off the plant in late summer.

  • Plant them, one by one, in containers and keep them watered. Don't forget them while all the other plants come out and do their thing. Asparagus shoots are slow performers!
  • Water daily.
  • After ten weeks, prepare the soil outside. Till it and add grit or sand if it is claylike. Humus will lighten it, too.
  • Replant the roots 6" deep in the soil in the spring (approximately a foot apart and with 6 feet between rows because the root extends for many feet around).
  • Mulch (they would love dried seaweed) to keep weeds at bay.
  • A good idea is to plant garlic around the area to keep unwanted parasites away.
  • Harvest (lots of times) after two years.

Source

Wild Asparagus is Free

Wild asparagus emerges as winter begins to bore us and before spring actually takes its first leap. It's an ante-spring thing, a pre-delizia. It is the epitome of the promise of what is to come. Wild asparagus is a freak— it tastes crazy and is much better than the cultivated variety from greenhouses. It's the real thing. It's the difference between a nap in the sun with your lover and an eight hour rest on a Permaflex.

  • It doesn't cost anything.
  • So easy to plant and grow and it continues to produce asparagus shoots for 15 years.
  • It tastes delicious!

Recipe idea from a Tuscany farmhouse: Taste it finely chopped and tossed in a small pan with olive oil, chopped garlic, and cilli pepper, poured over spaghetti (al dente), grated pecorino cheese on the top, and eat it just as soon as you get your boots off.

Source

© 2012 Penelope Hart

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    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

      Great hub - packed with information. I don't even like asparagus but I want to go out and find some! Love the video, well done.

      Voted up etc

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Wish you could come and find some round our house! Maybe you will one day!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for an enjoyable and informative hub, GoodLady, and for making the video. Wild asparagus sounds like a very interesting plant!

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I really want to find some wild asparagus now. I live around a lot of farms, I may have to ask some of my neighbors if I can "hunt" for wild asparagus on their property. In exchange they can hunt for deer and turkey on mine!

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thanks AliciaC - it's a very exciting plant!

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Sounds like a deal chrissieklinger! Thanks for reading and comment. Hope you find loads of it.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 4 years ago

      Interesting! I may not find any them here where I live. But it sure was an interesting hub. Have a good day.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      sofs, hi! Not sure if they are an Australian plant, I'll have to look that up. They are hardy though!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Asparagus is my favourite vegetable but I don't think I've ever had wild asparagus before. I will definitely be on the look out for some now.

      Very educational hub!

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Hope you find it near you. It's actually too late to look for it now because the grass is too high and the plants will have flowered, but next year. It's great.

      Thanks for your comments Just Ask Susan!

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 4 years ago

      I didn't know asparagus grew in the wild! Interesting, informative hub, Good Lady. I love asparagus. Not sure they overwinter here, though.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      The pictures and video are very helpful on this topic, I guess because the asparagus hides so well. Great info!

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Hi Janis. Thanks, they only grow through the spring, so maybe next year you can find them.

      Brainy Bunny, really glad you found the video and pics helpful. Thanks for supportive comment.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Hi Goodlady, when I saw this I almost flipped. It grows wild here and people are always on the lookout for it at this time of year (Spring). Thanks to your Hub, now I know how to cultivate my own. Great Hub - lots of great photos! Up and awesome!!

    • seh1101 profile image

      Sean Hemmer 4 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Great hub! I've been deeply considering tilling up another small garden and dedicating it to asparagus and other wild veggies. I have been foraging for asparagus and morel mushrooms for the past month due to the warm spring. I cannot believe I'm enjoying fresh pickings already (in Wisconsin). Cheers, and grow on!

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      EuroCafeLait thanks! Hope you manage to cultivate your own, happy hunting for the crowns late summer! Let me know.

      seh1101 Asparagus is such an easy plant to grow and multiply, so why not? Nice to know where you live! Thanks for comment. Good luck.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle 4 years ago from United States

      Great job on this article. Great photos too, I wish I could take that nice of photos.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      angela_michelle the Iphone takes a neat picture, thanks for commenting.

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 4 years ago from USA

      I love asparagus, and your hub says it grows in N. America, but I haven't ever seen any plants like those in Kansas when we go on our morel hunts each year. I did know a woman in Missouri who grew them and said they were tough to keep alive. Do you know if they're only in certain areas of the U.S.? I'll be all over that hunt if they're everywhere.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      jellygator my brother has some in Paso Robles. Not sure where else. I'd like to go on a morel hunt! If I find out more where they grow in the States I'll be in touch. Thanks for commenting.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Another stunning hub. I have to find out if wild asparagus grows in the UK.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Not sure, but maybe on the cliffs near the sea. Thanks for reading.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I love asparagus, but it doesn't love me. Bad for kidney stones they say.

      Growing your own food must be nice.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      I didn't know it was bad for kidney stones! What a shame. It's usually food we forage for, like chicory or mushrooms. Thanks for commenting.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      Beautiful hub! I have to wonder if asparagus grows wild here. It'd be great if it did since we love to eat it!

      Well done! Voted up, useful and beautiful. :)

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      I'll have to find out if it grows in USA. Thank you so much for dropping in and voting!

    • Cow Flipper profile image

      Sean Jankowski 4 years ago from Southern Oregon

      Fantastic article! GoodLady I hunt wild asparagus here in Southern Oregon in the orchards! So much fun and very tasty. Many of the migrant families here go on picking sprees in the Spring. Thanks for all the useful information. I'm giving it a UP a Useful, and Interesting.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      A few people USA asked where to find it. Now I can send them all to Southern Oregon. Can I come too? I've always wanted to visit. Anyway, glad you enjoyed this and many thanks for your votes!

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      GoodLady, what an interesting topic. I have two asparagus plants in my raised bed. Voted Up and Interesting.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      So you'll get one nice meal out of those asparagus won't you maybe every week through spring? Thanks for commenting.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      This is an absolutely superb hub and is fascinating to boot. Wild asparagus is beautiful, and you've given us a wealth of information to help us spot it. Thanks for all of your hard work; it is truly an undertaking, and I appreciate the care and love you put into creating this.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Wild asparagus is exciting and wonderful. We agree on that! Glad you liked my Hub and many thanks for your votes and comments. Best wishes.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Oh, how I miss those wild asparagus dearly! My grandma used to make a frittata and it was subliminal. Thanks for bringing back good memories, we used to go looking for them in the country or it was sold in flea markets around town, but I had no luck finding any markets that sell them in the States yet.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      alexandry. wild asparagus, once you've had it, you never forget how great it is. I've heard that it does grow in the States but right now i can't remember where I'm sorry. Northern California i think. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      thaspi 4 years ago

      Dear GoodLady,

      It is a wonderful and useful web page…

      Please inform me, if I can take out a wild asparagus plant right now, in order to transplant it in my garden. Or I have to wait until the end of spring...

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      You could try moving it now if it isn't too cold - though this time of year isn't very good because nature is beginning to die down. Thanks for your comment.

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      I don't know about purple asparagus, sorry. Not sure it's Ok to post links in the comments capsule.

    • profile image

      thaspi 4 years ago

      Yestreday, I gathered some black-colour berries fron wild asparagus plants. Are they seeds???

      Because, I have read that they are red-color....

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Wild asparagus grows from the bulb in the ground. I don't think it ever comes from the seed!

    • profile image

      thaspi 4 years ago

      The above article says that we can create new wild asparagus plants from wild asparagus seeds...

      Is it correct?

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      You get wild asparagus to grow from transplanting wild asparagus bulbs/ roots as you see in the video. Wild asparagus grows wild. Other types may come from seeds but these are not the asparagus we have growing round us in the fields, that my article is about.

      Thanks for your question.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      useful hub, i like the details about planting and the pics, voted up

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 23 months ago from Rome, Italy

      Thanks for vote!

    • profile image

      Agelos 22 months ago

      Very nice hub and the info is just great. I live in town so to find wild asparagus is not possible.

      Where i can find seeds of wild asparagus to buy? Any good site in the net?

      sory for my English. I am from europe

    • GoodLady profile image
      Author

      Penelope Hart 22 months ago from Rome, Italy

      You find wild asparagus right now in the fields very near to towns in Southern Europe.

      I don't think you can buy seeds for wild asparagus. They grow from bulbs.

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