ASPARAGUS, a member of the lily family of plants, is a vegetable. About 150 species of asparagus are grown in the temperate parts of the world, but just one (Asparagus officinalis) is usually eaten.
Asparagus grows best in loose, rich, sandy soil. In gardens the seeds are sown early in the spring, though the plants may be started at any time of the year in greenhouses. Asparagus plants must be from two to four years old before they are ready for cutting. Asparagus is a hardy perennial of the lily family, with tuberous roots. The plants are started from seeds and transplanted to a permanent bed in the spring of the second year. They are ready for cutting after they have grown two years in the permanent bed. They continue to produce for 20 years or more. A delicate vinelike variety—wrongly called “smi-lax” by florists—is grown in greenhouses.