Growing asparagus

by Pippa Greenwood

A couple of years ago I finally took the plunge and planted an asparagus bed. Its a crop I'd never appreciated until a few years ago, but now I love it.

Asparagus spearsA couple of years ago I finally took the plunge and planted an asparagus bed. Its a crop I'd never appreciated until a few years ago, but now I love it (especially lightly steamed, with a little salty butter). Now I'm all of a flutter, because the time to eat my asparagus is getting closer.

For best results, you should grow asparagus in a nutrient-rich bed with good drainage. I made a raised bed, packed it with a mixture of soil, well rotted manure plus a little sand  to ensure good drainage, and planted the asparagus crowns. It's also advised to avoid harvesting asparagus for three years after planting, as this is the time the plants are getting established. Each year I’ve had to watch those succulent looking spears appear and resist the temptation to harvest them.

I've just come in from cutting back the delicate frondy asparagus foliage. It has turned completely yellow, indicating that the nutrients in the foliage had been returned to the crowns. This year the foliage turned yellow several weeks later than last year, and the crowns have been growing well and have produced masses of foliage, so I'm hoping for a decent first crop. I'm now wondering whether I shouldn't go and get myself a few more crowns, as the whole family now loves asparagus and I need to ensure there's enough to go round! Perhaps I'll try one of the purple varieties, such as 'Purple Passsion'.

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Gardeners' World Web User 21/10/2010 at 13:50

I have just this year created an asparagus bed myself. I have always loved the taste of the luxurious vegetable but have in the past been put off by how long you have to wait for the "pay off". But they are in now and the wispy fronds are still green at the moment. I suppose 3 years will fly by in no time! I have recently heard that an alternative method of cultivation is to sow seeds on a four-year cycle - 1st year sowing the seed, thinning or planting out. 2nd year no harvest(but keep bed weed free); 3rd year you may take a few shoots; 4th year cut shoots. Another one for the patient gardener but it might be worth a try.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/10/2010 at 07:53

I planted an asparagsu bed 3 years ago (crowns) in a raised bed, this year we had our first tips to eat - delicious! Lots of further growth since, still very green so not yet cut back. I sometimes also use the fronds in with flowers from the garden to add a different texture to display.

Gardeners' World Web User 24/10/2010 at 15:26

I too love asparagus. A word of warning though, after you've eaten some your wee may smell odd, don't call a doctor, it's the asparagus that causes it!

Gardeners' World Web User 13/04/2011 at 16:21

i am growing asparagus from seed which is now 4 to 6 inches tall could do with some good advice on how to look after and when to put out into a bed

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:41

I planted asparagus for the first time last year and all six plants are doing well. The instructions were to pick no more than two spears from each plant next year so I am looking forward to that. I agree with Angie W the delicate fronds look so good with sturdy summer flowers - and a little piece behind a pink makes a perfect buttonhole. I believe now is the time to give the bed a mulch of well-rotted manure. I had asparagus in a restaurant the other day and, being out of season it was tough so, like all veg. better to eat it in season, in April, May.