How to Grow Asparagus


This amazing vegetable is famously known for its gourmet taste, delicate flavour and unique texture and it is possible to grow it in your own garden.

You need to have a lot of patience with this vegetable as it takes a considerable amount of time to mature but the good news is that asparagus is a perennial vegetable which means they can stay productive for up to 20 years.

Gardening Direct have produced an easy step by step guide to help you start growing this great vegetable in your garden.

  • Ferny foliage in summer but grown for its young shoots (spears) which appear in the spring
  • Soil type is not important as long as it is well drained and in a sunny, sheltered position
  • Will take two years for the first crop
  • Plant one year old crowns mid March to end April. Spread the crowns out over a 3ins deep mound in an 8ins deep trench about 12ins wide. Cover with 2ins soil and fill the trench gradually
  • Can be grown from seed but takes three years for cropping to begin. Sow mid March to end April
  • Plants will live for 8 to 20 years
  • Cut down stems in autumn
  • Do not remove spears during the first year
  • In the second year, once the spears are 4-5 ins they should be cut about 3 ins below the soil surface. Cut between mid April to mid June
  • Stop cutting mid June to allow the spears to develop for next year
  • Once cut spears will keep in a food bag in the fridge for up to three days but best to eat within an hour of cutting. Can be frozen
  • To cook, wash the spears and peel away the skin below the tips, keep in a bowl of cold water until all spears are prepared. Tie into a bundle with string and trim the ends to level the bundle. Place upright in a pan of boiling, salted water. Cover and boil for 10-15 mins. Drain and serve. Alternatively steam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I plant my Asparagus?

Asparagus requires a lot of space to grow and flourish, so the ideal location would be a sunny, sheltered spot in a large garden or allotment space that is well sheltered from the wind but they can be grown in a raised bed to help provide the best conditions. Do not try to grow asparagus in pots, in clay soil or in shaded places.

When should I plant my Asparagus?

The best time to plant asparagus crowns is early April as long as the soil is not too cold or wet. Seeds should be sown during April.

How do I plant my Asparagus?

Good drainage is essential so dig over the area thoroughly during the autumn incorporating well rotted manure or garden compost. If your soil is on the acid side you may need to add some lime. Remove all weeds, weed roots and stones and leave it over the winter. In spring fork over the area and rake in a general fertiliser.

For the best results buy one year old crowns just before you are ready to plant; never let then dry out whilst you are waiting to plant them. Dig a trench approximately 30 cm wide and 20 cm in depth. Down the centre of the trench create a mound approximately 10cm high and place your Asparagus crowns along the top of the mound, making sure the plants don’t touch. Cover the crowns with 5cm of sifted soil and gradually fill in the trench as the plants grow. By autumn the trench should be level with the surrounding soil.

Keep the site weed free and provide support if needed.

How do I grow Asparagus from seed?

Growing Asparagus from seed is not the best way to raise a crop as it can take three years before harvesting can begin.

Sow seed thinly in 3cm deep drills about 30cm apart; thin seedlings to 15cm when they are about 7cm high. The strongest seedlings can be planted out in their final position the following spring.

When can I harvest Asparagus?

Harvesting Asparagus must not begin until the second year after planting; by this time the spears should have reached a height of 12cm. The ideal time to cut asparagus is during May and don’t cut after Mid June as the spears need time to develop reserves for next year.

Using a sharp, serrated kitchen knife or a special asparagus knife, cut 7cm below the soil surface. Don’t let the spears get too tall before cutting.

Asparagus Troubles
Trouble Symptoms Treatment Prevention
Asparagus Beetle Stems and leaves are eaten.  Spray with liquid Derris None
Frost Crop turns black and dies None Cover the crop with fleece if frost is expected
Rust Reddish-brown sports appear on leaves during the summer. Remove and burn affected shoots as soon as spots appear None
Slugs Spears are eaten. Sprinkle area with slug pellets or add nematodes to your soil Keep area clear of rubbish
Spindly Spears Thin shoots produced instead of the usual thick spears. None Usually caused by cutting too long into the season. Don’t harvest after mid June.
Violet Root Rot Roots covered with purple mould, leaves turn yellow and die. If bad start again in a new site and don’t grow root crops in the same area. If possible isolate healthy plants. None
Wind Rock In exposed sites roots are loosened which can lead to rotting. None Provide support to stems or build windbreaks around the site

 

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