This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There is a future for asparagus as sure of reward to our effort as by its food supply. That lies in the search for better kinds. The Cono-ver's is the first well defined heralded advance from the old sorts. To be sure the nurserymen always advertised giant asparagus. But this did not tell of a new kind; it only meant possible stature and stoutness by right feeding. In fact till the Conover's, those who taught us, like the Monthly, the bottom creed in horticulture, often laid it down that there was but one kind, that the giant came by high culture; they were pretty near the truth, but not quite. I have been for years, before the Conover, sure that there were two kinds, of quite unlike traits and looks. The old blue nose, blue top and stalk, and another variety with pea green heads and stems. This latter I always thought more thrifty, more succulent and tender and of higher flavor.
I had the kind seeding itself at random for years before the Conover gained its place and name. I think the Conover an offspring of that variety. But why stop at Conover? Why not follow up the well proved laws of development in search for still better kinds, kinds more thrifty, higher flavored and tenderer? The way thereto is through seeding and choice and trial. If Conover's one lucky chance plant put its boasted lift so high above the old sorts, we have a right to look for higher promise and fulfilment through many generations of its seed. No matter how rounded in all its points of excellence a growing thing may be, its goodness is no warrant for its saying " after me the deluge." Careful trial may yet reach a race of colossals, who in the ascent from like to likeliest will swell the asparagus to equal the bigness and stature of a banana. Why not if we accept the creed of evolution? What thoughtful and patient trial has done for fruits and vegetables it may perhaps do for the asparagus. We all remember how year by year the old love apple tomato, about as bereft of meat and flesh and pulpy tenderness as a pepper, has grown through its generations into the smooth, tender, full, solid-fleshed, high-flavored fruit that to-day delights us.
There is like hope and high promise for all that grows in the garden from like effort. Then, too, if not millions, there is money in it to all whose thoughtful trial brings a fine fruit to the orchard or a fine vegetable to our garden. But of late a pest has attacked the asparagus hereabouts. It is a small greenish worm that changes into a fly or beetle of the same tint. This comes on about the season of its latter growth and holds along well toward midsummer, ruining the plant. I think too in some way it attacks and eats out the pith and substance of the root. What is the remedy?