How To Grow Asparagus
Asparagus is one of those vegetables that we await with much anticipation each spring.
It has a short but prolific season, and we indulge ourselves with as much asparagus as we wish each day!
One of my favorite things about asparagus (besides the amazing taste!) is that it is a perennial.
It comes back each year, with little to no work on the gardener’s part. No sprouting seeds indoors, or sowing seeds in the garden for asparagus. With just a little love and care it re-appears each spring, bringing gorgeous little green shoots of yum for your spring table.
The only downside of asparagus, is that it does take 2-3 years before you can begin harvesting.
Let me tell you. It’s worth the wait!
So, let’s talk about how to grow asparagus.
In my personal opinion, it is best to start with asparagus crowns rather than seed. They are much easier to handle and plant, plus they will be ready to harvest in two years, rather than three.
It is totally possible to start asparagus from seed, but it is rather laborious and the seedlings are incredibly sensitive.
Most of the time, I am all about sprouting everything myself, but in this instance I choose to start my asparagus from crowns. I also prefer heirloom varieties rather than hybrids.
To grow asparagus you will need:
- Asparagus crowns
- Hardwood ashes
- Compost or well rotted manure
- Water or compost tea
To begin, soak the asparagus crowns in water or compost tea for two hours before planting.
There are two main ways you can plant asparagus.
#1 is the TRENCH METHOD.
Begin by digging a trench 6-8 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Sprinkle a small amount of hardwood ashes and compost or well rotten manure in the bottom of the trench. Place the asparagus crowns 12-18 inches apart in the trench and loosely fill the rest of the trench with soil. Do NOT pack the soil down! If you are doing more than one row, space the rows 3-4 feet apart.
#2 is the RAISED BED METHOD.
This is very similar to the trench method, except that, instead of having to actually DIG a trench, you start with an almost empty raised bed, and simply fill it up with soil after you add the crowns.
This is the method I have chosen to use, simply because of my garden positioning (and the fact that I had two empty raised beds that we had brought from out old house).
Add 2-3 inches of soil mixed with compost or rotted manure to the bottom of your raised bed frame and sprinkle with a bit of hardwood ashes.
Loosely fill the raised bed with 6-8 inches of soil.
With either method, you need to heavily mulch the rows or beds after the asparagus spears have appeared. Straw or chopped leaves both work beautifully as a mulching material here.
Next, you wait. And wait.
Two years after you planted the asparagus crowns, you can harvest the spears for one week. Then let them go to seed. Year three and on, you can harvest the spears for up to 8 weeks every spring!
Caring for your asparagus beds:
The first year, keep the beds well weeded and watered. Once the asparagus is well established, you don’t really need to worry about weeding or watering. Plus, if you are mulching well, very few weeds will be present, and water will be retained easily.
In the late fall, after a couple of hard frosts have hit, and the asparagus fronds have turned brown, set a small fire on top of the asparagus bed to burn back the fronds and any weeds that may have taken hold.
Fertilize with compost or rotted manure mixed with hardwood ashes twice a year. Once in the very early spring before the asparagus spears begin to appear, and again in the early summer after the harvest time has ended.
When the asparagus spears have reached about 8 inches tall, use a sharp knife to cut them off at ground level. Asparagus is best when eaten within 24 hours, but can last several days in the refrigerator.
Once you get your asparagus in the ground, there really is very little work and effort required to get a ton of amazing yummy asparagus every single year.
Did you know that a well tended asparagus patch can last 75 years!!
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