Asparagus 'Mary Washington'
This traditional open-pollinated variety was introduced in the USA in 1919 and made its way to Australia in 1929, where it is still a garden favourite today. An improved form of 'Martha Washington', 'Mary Washington' was considered the most popular asparagus in America for almost a century. Available as both male and female plants, the female plants will set seed if allowed to flower, while male plants usually set more spears throughout the season.
Whilst asparagus is available as crowns, you can also grow your own easily from seed. Asparagus seed should be soaked for a couple of hours prior to sowing. Sow in punnets with individual cells, placing around 3 seeds per cell at a depth of 1cm. Seed should germinate in a moist soil in 15-20 days, although this can take up to 40 days. Once seedlings emerge, and set a little foliage on top and roots emerge from the base of the punnet, plants can be transplanted into a larger pot filled with good quality potting mix. Do not separate the plants, instead allow them to grow as they have in the punnet. Water regularly. Plants can be transplanted out into the garden once they are around 12 weeks old, but wait until all likelihood of frost has passed. Ideally, it is best to sow 12-14 weeks before planting out. A long term crop (asparagus can keep producing for 20+ years), plant in a permanent position in a soil enriched with organic matter.