Asparagus and Chinese Asparagus
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Gerry Whiteley
Posted on: April 13, 1999

Asparagus: What is the difference between regular asparagus we buy in the store and the Chinese advertised in your herb catalogue? If there is a difference, do you carry the regular either in seed or plant form? How many plants should we have per person,how much space is required per plant and when should we expect our first crop if planted now?

The two varieties are different species in the genus Asparagus. The common asparagus (offered as rootstocks in our gourmet vegetable section under #S8022) is hardy in zones 5 to 9, and the part we eat are the young shoots emerging in early spring. A mature 3 year old plant will yield about 5 or more shoots. They are harvested until the replacement stalks are thinner than a finger. Waiting until the plant is three years old ensures that the plant is strong and does not lose strength too quickly when it is harvested in the spring.

The Chinese asparagus is a medicinal herb, is hardy in zones 7 to the tropics and gets to be 1.5 meters tall by 1 meter wide. The plant looks a bit like the asparagus fern that is used for flower arrangements or in hanging baskets. The roots are the part eaten or used as an antibiotic or anti inflammatory. Harvest the roots in the fall.

Garlic: we would like to plant elephant garlic.Is it too late for this year? Does it have to be planted yearly or is it a perennial?

Elephant garlic is winter hardy in zones 5 to 9. It will even survive most winters in zone 4 if it has plenty of winter protection and is planted in a sheltered spot. This plant does not need as long a growing season as ordinary garlic and can therefore be planted in April or May and still mature properly by fall. Since the bulb is pulled for harvesting it has to be replanted yearly. In colder parts of the country it would be best to overwinter it in the root cellar and plant in early spring.

We live in the Orillia area. The garden gets about 6-7 hrs of direct sun, is sandy soil and drains well.

It sounds ideal for most herbs. Do water when there has not been any rain for about a week.

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