HAME GARDEN asparagus, cooked soon after harvest, has a high quality flavor, much superior to stor-bought asparagus. When planted and taken care of properly, it may provide food for 15 or 20 years and even longer. otherwise, it can be a disappointment.

A serving of four spears (60 grams) contains just 10calories, one gram of protein, two grams of carbohydrates and only traces of fat, the nutririonists say.

Planted as early as possible in the spring, a fewspears can be harvested the following spring. Cutting too much soon after planting, or extending the cutting season too late into summer, limits the amount of food reserves that can be accumulated in the roots, reducing the following year's crop.

Most asparagus strains grown in the United States are seedling populations selected from the Martha Washington variety.Either seed or roots can be purchased and planted. Roots are by far the best. They cost very little and you get a crop two years sooner.

The underground asparagus root system consists of an extensive network of fleshy roots with small feeder roots that absorb water and nutrients.

Through photosynthesis, the mature plant produces carbohydrates and synthesizes other essential nutrients that are transported to the roots for storage. The stored reserves supply the energy required to produce the spears during the following growing season.

For this reason it is important to protect the fern-like foliage from injury and to prevent weeds from competing for moisture and nutrients.

Asparagus should be planted where it will not have to contend with the roots or the shade cast by a tree. One way to get started, if the soil is badly compacted, is to dig it out to a depth of 6 to 18 inches, haul it away and bring in good topsoil.

But unless your soil contains too much rubble, your best bet probably is to work toward improving it. It is fantastic how much poor soil can be improved by working organic matter into it. This animal or vegetable matter is called humus after it becomes partially decomposed and the improved condition remains long after the organic matter has disappeared.

Organic matter includes barnyard manure, peat moss, rotted leaves, compost and similar materials. A three-inch layer of peat with some lime and fertilizer mixed with the top 10 inches of soil will get you off to a good start.

Q. I bought a living hemlock tree for Christmas, intending to plant it outdoors immediately after the holidays. The weather was bad and I still have it in the house. Is it okay to keep it there until spring and then plant it?

A. In the fall, as days get shorter, most trees and shurbs in temperate and frigid areas become dormant in order to survive freezing weather. Before they can resume growth they must experience a period of cold, usually below 45 degrees, for about 1,000 hours or more.

Q. We have a problem with cauliflower every spring. They get magnificient heads but do not bleach. We tried tying the leaves; the heads did bleach but rotted, also.

A. The curds (head) are made up of tight flower bud clusters and when hot weather sets in they just go to seed, failing to develop a usable head.