The taste of fresh asparagus in May is worth waiting for. A perennial crop, established asparagus plants will provide an annual crop of tasty spears for up to 20 years.
Choose the spot you will grow your asparagus carefully. Asparagus needs lots of space to grow and thrives in sheltered, sunny sites with well-drained soil. Avoid growing asparagus in shady spots, heavy clay soil or containers.
You Will Need
- Asparagus crowns (normally one year old)
- Fork or spade
- Fertiliser granules
- Organic matter (e.g. well-rotted manure)
Dig a trench, 30cm wide by 20cm deep, and part fill with soil down its length to make a mound 10cm high. Take the asparagus crowns and sit them 30cm apart on top of the mound, spreading the roots on either side. Cover the crowns with 5cm of soil. As the plants grow, cover them with more soil, aiming to eventually fill the trench.
Keep newly planted crowns well watered until established and ensure the area is kept weed free to prevent competition for light and nutrients. Avoid harvesting asparagus spears for two years after planting, as this will weaken the plants and lead to smaller harvests in the long term. Instead, let the crowns develop ferny foliage, enabling them to photosynthesise and grow into healthy, strong plants.
Asparagus is ready to harvest two years after planting one-year-old crowns. Harvest spears when they reach 12cm in length, cutting them off the crowns beneath the soil with a serrated knife. Stop harvesting in mid-June to allow the plant to build up energy for the following year.
Asparagus varieties to grow
- ‘Pacific 2000’: a vigorous, heavy cropper with delicious flavour
- ‘Ariane’: large yields of tasty, purple-tipped spears
- ‘Connover’s Colossal’: a reliable heritage variety with exceptionally large yields
- ‘Crimson Pacific’: a newer, purple-speared variety with sweet flavour
- ‘Jersey Knight’: very heavy cropper with good disease resistance