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Mary Washington Asparagus

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Asparagus officinalis
Mary Washington Asparagus Seeds

Asparagus is a member of the lily family and is one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in the spring.  It originated near the Mediterranean Sea and was considered a delicacy by the ancient Greeks.

Mary Washington is a very strong growing and productive strain producing long, thick spears in May and June depending on your season. A rust resistant variety.

Fresh or suitable for freezing.

Sow outdoors in mid spring in a rich, loose seed bed. It is recommend that you soak the seeds for 48 hours in warm water before sowing 2in deep, 3in apart in rows 12in apart. Germination is slow so be patient. Seeds can also be started in the greenhouse or kitchen.

Really think about where your asparagus will go because most beds can last from 20 to 30 years. For this reason, asparagus should be planted at the side or end of the garden, where it will not be disturbed by normal year to year cultivation.   It is also wise to really prepare this bed well because you will want to leave it undisturbed for a few seasons till it establishes. 

Starting Asparagus from seed can be tricky.  How to prepare the bed can be a challenge.  Learning to successfully cultivate your asparagus can be daunting.  I highly recommend this $3.99 booklet to help you get started!

1929 Steele Briggs Seed Co. says...
"A Rust-resisting Asparagus. Marvelously productive. The most vigorous of all existing kinds. Yields a crop two years ahead of all other varieties; rust-resistant; largest, sweetest, most tender, and succulent shoots. We strongly recommend this variety for planting in the home-garden or on the farm."

Asparagus has been grown in American gardens since the earliest settlements were established. However, it was not until after 1850-1860 that asparagus was planted commercially.

"My urine smells funny after eating asparagus"!  Asparagus is filled with sulfur-containing amino acids that break down during digestion into six sulfur-containing compounds. These can impart a unique smell to urine as they are excreted. "It's the same sulfur group that makes skunks smell," said Barbara Hodges, a dietitian with Boston University's nutrition clinic, the Evans Nutrition Group.


Recommended by the Following State Universities or Ag Extension Offices as a variety that performs well for their region.  CA, IL, NC, ND, OH, OR, WV, TX

Seed Planting Depth

Seeds per gram

Germination Temperature

Days to Germination

Row Spacing

Plant Spacing

100' Row Yield


1" 24-40 68 21-25 24" 18" 12 lb. Full

Planting Tips:

Direct sow in mid spring in a rich, loose seed bed. Plan the site well, as most beds can last from 20 to 30 years. Germination is slow, so be patient. The first two years will be for root growth – you shouldn’t cut the shoots until the third year, so again, be patient. Allow your asparagus bed to establish itself first.  Normally, it takes 2-3 years. 

In the fall, cut back all dead growth and cover with a composted leaf mulch.

In the spring, top dress asparagus with well composted manure and seaweed for an amazing harvest.

Heirloom seeds are hardy but always take care with your garden seeds to give them the appropriate amount of moisture - don't let the vegetable seeds dry out prematurely, and don't overwater and possibly have them rot.


Lemony Seared Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese


  • 1 lb large asparagus (halved)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup water (may need more for steaming)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler


Whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Set aside. Heat a large pan or skillet over high heat. Once the pan has heated up (about 2 minutes) add remaining oil, followed by asparagus, garlic and shallots. Season well with salt and pepper.

Allow the asparagus to begin to brown (about 3-4 minutes) and add water to pan carefully.  Cover the pan with a small space for steam to escape.  Cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until asparagus is just tender, adding more water if needed.

Add lemon mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with parmesan cheese and serve immediatly.


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