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Asparagus, Mary Washington

Short Description

HEIRLOOM. Light cuttings in 2 years; regular cuttings thereafter.

Full Description

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable, so you just plant them once and enjoy season after season of succulent spears. Seeds can be started indoors in spring for transplanting out around last frost. Bare roots can be planted as soon as they arrive in spring. Rooted plants are great for fall and should be planted 4-6 weeks before first fall frost. In 2 years, you'll have a light crop and a regular crop thereafter. Long after harvest, the graceful, feathery green foliage is still attractive. Zones 3-8.
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Asparagus, Mary Washington
Asparagus, Mary Washington, , large
Item #: 69394
6 Plants
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Product properties

Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.

730 days

Fruit Size The average size of the fruit produced by this product.

8 inches

Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.

Full Sun, Part Sun

Spread The width of the plant at maturity.

24 inches

Height The typical height of this product at maturity.

36-84 inches

Sow Method This refers to whether the seed should be sown early indoors and the seedlings transplanted outside later, or if the seed should be sown directly in the garden at the recommended planting time.

Direct Sow

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Introduction to Raised Bed Gardening
Introduction to Raised Bed Gardening
If you’ve ever wanted to know just what raised bed gardening is then this is the place to start.
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How To Direct Sow Seeds
How To Direct Sow Seeds
Learn how to direct sow seeds from Burpee's expert horticulturist.
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  • Asparagus

    Start Indoors Start Indoors Starting seeds indoors is called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds indoors in the spring or summer
    Transplant Transplant When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for spring
    Start Outdoors Start Outdoors Starting seeds outdoors is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the spring or summer
    Start Indoors Fall Start Indoors Fall Starting seeds indoors in the fall called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fall
    Transplant Fall Transplant Fall Transplant Fall-When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for fall
    Start Outdoors Fall Start Outdoors Fall Starting seeds outdoors in the fall is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fall
    First Date: Feb-08 - Last Date: Apr-04
    First Date: Mar-28 - Last Date: May-16
    First Date: Sep-01 - Last Date: Oct-15

How to Sow and Plant

Asparagus may be grown from seed sown early indoors and transplanted outside after frost, from seed sown directly in the garden, from transplanted seedlings in fall or from year-old bare roots in spring.

Sowing Seed Indoors:

  • Start asparagus seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before outdoor planting date in spring in peat pots, plastic pots or trays. At least 2 x 2 inch cells works best.
  • Sow seeds ½ inch deep in seed-starting formula.
  • Keep soil moist at 70-75 degrees F
  • Seedlings will emerge in 10-14 days
  • As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow. Incandescent bulbs do not work because they get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
  • Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Seedlings should be 6-10 inches tall with 4-6 stems with several buds coming from the crown when they are ready to transplant outside.
  • Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens cell structure and reduces transplant shock and sun burn.
  • When selecting a site, keep in mind that asparagus is a perennial vegetable and the planting bed should not be disturbed. Early soil preparation is essential in order to establish a healthy asparagus bed. Asparagus prefers full sun and a good organic well drained soil.
  • Space transplants 12 inches apart in a single or double row. Double rows should be 12-14 inches apart. Transplant before temperatures are 90 degrees F.

Sowing Directly in the Garden:

  • Direct sow seeds in spring when the soil is at least 60 degrees F.
  • When selecting a site, keep in mind that asparagus is a perennial vegetable and the planting bed should not be disturbed. Early soil preparation is essential in order to establish a healthy asparagus bed. Asparagus prefers full sun and a good organic well drained soil.
  • Prepare the soil by removing weeds and working organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth.
  • Sow seeds evenly and thinly 2 inches apart, ¾ -1 inch deep
  • Firm soil lightly with your hand, water and keep evenly moist.
  • Seedlings will emerge in 10-14 days at 75 degrees F, a little longer if the soil is cooler.
  • Thin seedlings to about 12 inches apart when seedlings have at least two sets of leaves.

Planting Bare Roots in the Garden:

  • When selecting a site, keep in mind that asparagus is a perennial vegetable and the planting bed should not be disturbed. Early soil preparation is essential in order to establish a healthy asparagus bed. Asparagus prefers full sun and a good organic well drained soil.
  • Dig trenches 6-8 inches deep and 12-15 inches wide. Space rows 2 ½ - 4 feet apart.
  • Set roots in the bottom of the trench, spacing crowns (centers) 18 inches apart in the row. Spread roots out as far as possible for best root establishment.
  • Cover roots with 2 inches of fine soil and water well.
  • Plants may take 6-8 weeks to emerge.
  • Continue adding soil as the tops grow up, about every three weeks, until the trench is full, which should be about midsummer when planted in early spring.

Planting Seedling Plants in the Garden:

  • When selecting a site, keep in mind that asparagus is a perennial vegetable and the planting bed should not be disturbed. Early soil preparation is essential in order to establish a healthy asparagus bed. Asparagus prefers full sun and a good organic well drained soil.
  • Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
  • Set plants in the bottom, spacing centers 18 inches apart in the row. Space rows 2 ½ - 4 feet apart.
  • Place the top of the root ball approximately ½ inch below the level of the surrounding soil.
  • Fill with soil to the top of the root ball.
  • Press soil down firmly and water.

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
  • Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. Put down a layer of newspaper 5-10 sheets thick between the rows (soak the papers in water first, so they won't blow away) and then cover the newspaper with dry grass clippings, aged bark mulch, weed-free straw, etc.  Always keep mulches off of plants’ stems to prevent possible rot.
  • Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • Do NOT cut plants back after harvest, allow them to fern and grow as long as they can before frost. They will become quite large. They need the green foliage to make food for themselves to make strong plants next year.
  • Have your soil tested for fertilizer recommendations. Fertilize after harvest and in late summer.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
  • In late fall cut tops to ground level when they have turned brown. In cooler climates mulch the ground with evergreen branches or straw after the ground freezes for extra protection. Remove this winter mulch in early spring.

Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Do NOT harvest asparagus the first year. Allow the plants to grow and make food to store in the roots for stronger plants the following year. When plants are two years old you can harvest them for a short period. In the third year you can harvest for four weeks.
  • Harvest when new spears emerge in spring. Harvest when spears are about ½ inch wide. On average spears should be 6-8 inches tall.
  • Using a sharp, clean knife, cut young spears at ground level and set in water with the cut side down until you are ready to store the spears. Some gardeners prefer to snap the stems, but this can cause damaged tissue which can result in disease issues.
  • Harvest frequently before spears start to leaf out.
  • Do not harvest spears less than ¼ inch in diameter.
  • Prepare as soon as possible as fresh asparagus is best.
  • Asparagus also freezes well for later use. Sort the spears by thickness and “blanch” smaller ones 1 ½ minutes, medium for 2 minutes and thickest for 3 minutes. To do this, drop the spears into boiling water for the recommended time, then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking, drain and store in freezer bags or vacuum bags.
Days To Maturity
730 days
Fruit Size
8 inches
Full Sun, Part Sun
24 inches
36-84 inches
Sow Method
Direct Sow
Planting Time
Fall, Spring
Sow Time
2-4 weeks BLF
18 inches
Asparagus, Mary Washington is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 8.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent purchase i made a few years ago. I purchased Mary Washington Asparagus 4years ago, this is the start of my 5th year and I am already cutting roughly 2 pounds a day off of 25 roots. Oh my what a great tasting asparagus!
Date published: 2018-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from can harvest lightly second year a great product must be planted as directed per instructions used roots myself used a post hole digger 3 to 4 times per hole spaced 18 to 24 inches apart in well tilled soil added about 2 to 3 inches of dirt per hole and added more dirt as needed to fill holes per plant growth
Date published: 2018-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from long germination time Just had to comment after reading the last review. DON'T give up after only a week. Asparagus takes a really long time to germinate. Wait at least 4 weeks as a previous reviewer said. You will finally see little grasslike sprouts. It's not at all like other seeds that can sometimes sprout in less than a week. You MUST be patient. It is worth waiting for. We have a giant garden filled with asparagus I grew from seed 3 years ago.
Date published: 2014-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mary Washington Asparagus I had recently bought a home where I can finally have a large raised bed garden. One of the most important vegetables I wanted to grow was Asparagus. I also only wanted to grow Heirloom variety vegetables. I was concerned when I decided to purchase your heirloom Mary Washington asparagus roots because I knew how long it normally takes to get asparagus started and I didn't want to wait another year to try again. I carefully set the roots as directed. I have been so VERY PLEASED with the results,it seemed within days asparagus shoots were popping up! Every plant sprouted! What I didn't know when I planted the roots is that more than one sprout will come up. Each of my roots have at least 5 or more shoots coming up! They are all about 3 foot high ferns right now, with each month that passes more shoots are appearing. I expect in the spring I will be able to have a light harvest, and I know the following years I am going to have an abundance! These plants are very healthy and everyone of them have out done my expectations! THANK YOU for such high quality plants!
Date published: 2013-08-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from So far so good I planted about 20 seeds outside last spring. I watered them every day for quite a long time (3 weeks?) before giving up. The following week, 4 sprouted. I didn't expect such a long germination time, so maybe more than 4 would have sprouted if I had kept the watering up for another week. It's cold in Connecticut in early spring, which might be the reason for the long germination time. At any rate, I dug them up early this spring and set the roots. I wasn't 100% sure I was doing it right, but all four came up after a week or two (with frequent watering - not sure that was necessary). The stalks are all very thin so far and I'm hoping they thicken in future years, but the plants seem to be thriving. I can't wait until I can harvest!
Date published: 2013-07-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Asparagus Roots inconsistant this is the second time that I have planted the Mary Washington asparagus roots. the first planting's sprouting results and production in year 3 and beyond were spectacular. the roots this year were not uniform in size and obvious maturity. after planting 25 roots in 1 row, only 21 sprouted. I marked the row according to root size and most of the scrawny roots have not broken the surface after 6-8 weeks. we won't know about production for some time. quite frankly, I'm a little disappointed that only 84% of the roots sprouted. these results were not typical of my past experiences with Burpee products. perhaps there should be a review of their Quality Control program or product specifications, where the root or crown must be a minimum size in order to be sold to a customer.
Date published: 2013-06-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from seeds did not sprout I feel bad for having to give a negative review, but a week ago I planted 80 asparagus seeds in an indoor tray at proper depth in well watered miracle grow potting soil after pre-soaking them for a full 24 hours as recommended. Everything else I pre-planted sprouted beautifully except the asparagus. Not one single sprout. I just dug up one of the plots to see if there was anything at all below the surface and found nothing. Seeds had 100% failure rate. Sorry.
Date published: 2013-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Purchase Roots- The roots are very easy to grow and will emerge within two weeks. The only reason that it's not great is that it takes two years after planting before it can be harvested. If you are growing asparagus by root than I would recommend Burpee's other asparagus, Jersey Knight. Seeds- The seeds are very easy to grow. I soaked mine in water 24 hours before planting and it helped A LOT! I was very surprised that they sprouted very quickly. Also, these are nice because they are much cheaper than the roots. These are about the only variety that you can use seeds to grow them. The downfall to these is that it takes a long time before they can be harvested.
Date published: 2007-08-14
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