Growing Asparagus – Worth Waiting For

my asparagus plantNothing heralds spring for me more than the first spears of asparagus poking their heads out of the ground.

If you’ve only tasted asparagus out of a tin, then you haven’t lived yet! There’s absolutely no comparison between fresh and tinned asparagus (it’s so irresistible that I’ve even been know to eat it straight from the garden and not tell anyone it’s there yet, but let’s keep that our secret).

Okay, it might take a couple of years to get productive spears, but trust me, it’s worth the wait.

You’re best to buy 2 year old crowns from the nursery so you can get a bit of a head start. Then prepare your ground like you’re cultivating gold! Good preparation at winter planting stage is your key to success. Dig deep troughs (at least 20cm/10 inches) and place the crowns in them with the roots spread out, then backfill with good compost and manure. Make sure to mulch heavily with lucerne and keep it moist. And wait.

The first year you’ll only get whispy fern-like growth that will reach about 5 foot high by the end of summer. Don’t cut or trim this growth because it’s building the crowns that will start to produce the following spring. By autumn/fall your ferny growth will start to turn yellow letting you know that you can then cut it to ground level. Mulch again with a good layer of more compost and lucerne. And wait.

A full year after planting out your crowns, in their second spring in your garden, you’ll start to get spears poking through the ground, but only harvest ones that are at least pencil thick. Each year let a few small spears grow ferny during the summer to keep building the crowns. They’ll keep getting better every year. This photo shows my asparagus in their 3rd spring and they’re as thick as my forefinger and taste delicious. So if you are patient and wait for asparagus like this, your crowns will keep rewarding you with spears for another 20 years!