How to Grow Asparagus

Asparagus is a vegetable that belongs to the allium family, which also comprises leeks, onions, chives and shallots. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas, but has since been cultivated in most countries around the world. Contrary to many people’s conception, asparagus is a hardy plant and adaptable to most climate conditions, and indeed, as a perennial that overwinters in the ground, they thrive in places that have winter ground freezes. Asparagus is also a very healthy vegetable, providing good levels of a wide range of nutrients. These include potassium, B vitamins and calcium. And with no fat and virtually no calories, asparagus delivers all these positive benefits without any downside.

Position
Choose a position where your asparagus can stay permanently. They are a perennial plant and, given the right conditions and maintenance, can provide you with crops for years, even decades. Indeed, you won’t be harvesting them until at least the third year after planting, as the root system takes some time to grow strong enough to withstand harvest. Ideally you want to give the asparagus a position in full sunlight. They will tolerate partial shade, but full sunlight produces the most vigorous growth and the healthiest plant. The location also needs to drain well, as standing water will rot the roots.

Soil
Asparagus plants like a soil that is well drained and rich in organic matter. They develop very deep roots, so you want to try and make sure the soil is loosely structured for quite a way down the soil profile, enabling the roots to grow well and for moisture to percolate and aeration to occur. The best way to prepare the soil for asparagus plants is to dig a trench of around 75 centimeters and then add lots of organic material to it. This can include compost, manure, worm castings, leaf litter and so on. You can then layer soil over the top. The lower layer of organic matter will draw down the roots of the asparagus plants, making them stringer and more resilient. It will also help keep the pH of the soil balanced. Asparagus prefer a soil of between 6.5 and 7 in pH, so if your soil is acidic consider adding some organic lime along with the organic material.

Planting
Asparagus is typically planted either as seeds or seedlings. In either case, ensure you have organic specimens. Plant approximately 40 centimeters apart. This may seem like a lot but it is to prevent the extensive root systems from competing with each other for nutrients. Water the newly planted specimens well, ideally with harvested rainwater. You can also plant asparagus as ‘crowns’. These are nodules with roots already growing and are typically about a year old. Plant in trenches around six inches deep and well composted. Place each crown on a small mound and spread the roots out in different directions to ensure robust growth. Planting crowns will mean you should be able to harvest in the second year after planting rather than the third. However, make sure you source crowns from an organic supplier, and do not use any that are more than a year old, as the shock of transplantation is more severe with older crowns. In all cases, mulch around the plants to help preserve moisture and protect the plants during the winter.

Companions
A common companion plant for asparagus is tomato. The tomato repels the asparagus beetle that feeds on the roots, while the asparagus is thought to repel certain nematodes in the soil, which may damage the tomatoes. You should avoid planting asparagus in close proximity to other alliums as, given the similar genetic profile, they will be competing for the same nutrients and inhibit one another’s growth.

Water
Water regularly, as the soil should be well drained. The asparagus plants need more water in their first two years of growth to establish themselves. You may want to consider installing a drip irrigation system.

Maintenance
Compost around the plants each spring to help support growth. The extensive roots of the asparagus plants typically out-compete weeds for nutrients, so they shouldn’t be a problem after the first year or two. After the first frost in winter, or when the foliage of the plants turns yellow or brown, cut the asparagus back to ground level. This will help stimulate growth in the spring. When you cut back the foliage try to avoid letting the berries fall to the ground as they can germinate and your garden bed will have too many plants to be support.

Harvest
In the third year after planting, you can harvest the spears over a four-week period, while by the fourth the harvesting period can be grow asparagusextended to 8 weeks. Looks for spears with tightly formed tips and thin, strong stalks. As the weather warms up over the harvesting season, more and more spears will appear and you can harvest every other day or so, depending on the number of plants you have. Snap the spears off at ground level.

Kitchen
Like most vegetables, asparagus are best used as soon after harvest as possible. This is when they are at their fresher and so replete with the maximum amount of nutrients and flavor. However, uncooked asparagus spears will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator and still be tasty. However, the spears should really be kept damp, so either wrap in a damp tea towel or, alternatively, place the base of the stems in a jar with about an inch of water in the bottom then cover the tops loosely with a plastic bag. Asparagus can be used raw in salads, but that method means the stalks remain somewhat fibrous and only the tips are generally used. To use all of the spears they should be quickly boiled or steamed, for two or three minutes at most. This softens the stem to make it more appealing but also retains most of the nutrients. The key is to retain the bright green color of the stems – if they start to leach color they are leaching nutrients and flavor. A good tip is that once you have finished boiling or steaming, plunge the spears into ice water to preserve the color and flavor.

151 comments
Rita

No, asparagus isn’t an allium. It is not in the onion family. It has it’s own family, Asparagaceae. My source says it was introduced from Europe, although it frequently escapes cultivation. It’s funny, I always thought it was native to the US.

marian.crudge

Thanks Rita . I just had to check: Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial plant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae. Asparagus officinalis is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, and is widely cultivated as a vegetable crop.

And it’s delicious!

Giving mine away in the spring. I have enjoyed asparagus all my life until recent but now it seems to make me feel ill after eating it. So it is out of here.

** Delicious ** 🙂

I hear they are pretty hearty, too. 😉 <3

THATS WHAT I NEED, SOMETHING EASY TO GROW.

Started crowns last spring.

carroll

love asparagus. I got an email stating that asparagus was good for skin cancer. by eating the asparagus twice a day either fresh, canned, or frozen. It works. It takes time though. Not only did it help with my leasions it physically gave me more energy it just made me feel better. I found that in my area asparagus is very expensive and sometimes hard to get. I also perfered fresh so if

I found it at a good price I would buy it in bulk usually in the spring, and freeze my own. This way you know that there is not any unwanted chemicals added. I also found that fresh or frozen worked better.

Jackie

Wish I’d known this years ago..love asparagus!

we tried to grow in Tennessee but never got much return on this crop…

Will it productively grow in Central Florida (zone 9)?

And can be dangerous to people with kidney problems.

And in many areas it is an escaped plant that is now effectively a weed … and grows in hedgerows. I have a patch of escaped asparagus out in the back field which is nice, the patch in the yard sort of got eaten by the sheep. Oops =)

easy to grow?? my ass…

I have 5 10’rows that are 2 years old. I barely do anything to it and this year I will have several nice cuttings.

I live in Southeast Arizona and I don’t think it gets cold enough in the winter here.

Very informative, will definitely put this info towards my future garden.

Yep, in my garden for about 4 years now. This spring will be the year I can start harvesting. Woohoo!

We tried really hard, to no avail years ago. We tried shade, sun, fertilizers, whatever. Would not grow.

Eventually we noticed it grew wild in every ditch within 10 miles and just let it grow where it wanted.

One of my first experiences with permaculture.

Asparagus makes my pee smell 30 minutes later after I eat it!

When our county road by our farm was rebuilt about 10 years ago we took the tractor/loader and scooped out a hole next to my rhubarb, then scooped up the big ancient clump of asparagus that was growing in the ditch, destined to die with the roadwork project, and plopped it into the hole we’d prepared. We watered and fertilized it well and have been enjoying asparagus with spears up to an inch thick for years now. I let it go to seed naturally and it’s really spread in that area. I fertilize with horse manure, just dump on a few inches and let the rain soak it in to the roots.

We do have asparagus in our garden. Love it.

Carol

I Transplanted several ‘Crowns” of Wild Asparagus two years ago, I hope to get enough for a meal now and then through the summer!

Transplanted several Crowns of Wild Asparagus 2 years ago, I hope it will spread and fill-in this year!

I loved picking it in Cloudcroft where it grew wild near the apple orchard. No need to cook it, so tender & sweet. the old thicker ones needed steaming. Little butter, salt & pepper and or hollandaise.

Yummy!!!!!

I’ve got two, hundred crown rows. I can’t wait til they are in full production. Enough for me and enough to sell a bit!

our problem is, after planting 16 roots, the rabbits discovered them!

tried to grow, but failed.

The roots spread under surface several feet. They might need some edge to spread. They have a dormant period and look to be dieing.

You ladies took the words out of my mouth. Yummmy.

Love asparagus.

I love it that is what I know. I wish I could grow it!!!

My family loves asparagus!

Don’t care for it but keep trying so I can develop the taste for it.

I found asparagus growing wild in NE Oklahoma along with onions & garlic. Left over from the prairie days. The garlic was very mild.

I thought they grow in ditches and fields . I see people picking them all in the open fields.

Love the idea but 3 years before you can.harvest. . . . Idk if I want to wait that long

Been growing it for years. Every year the patch gets better!

We grow it commercially. If you want plants go to Nourse farms website. They are great people

Causes Gout attacks.

And it’s a lovely airy plant later in the season . I have it my front yard .

Denise Walker Charles in case you are interested…

I have a patch that’s about 7 years old. Yummy, tender spears every year. Definitely worth the 2 year wait.

Planted a patch last year with two-year old roots and it is doing well. Looking forward to picking some this year. It’s delicious right off the plant.

Yummy enough to share on Garden Gossip… <3

The heck with growing I love to eat them !

Talitha Suryan power read this please..

have tried didn’t work out to well

I really want to grow asparagus!! It’s not a cheap veg but YUMMY

We didn’t do very good with this

Perennial and wild in colorado 🙂

Going on 4th year. My understanding: 1st year no harvest. 2nd year 1 week harvest. 3rd year 2 weeks. 4th year 1 month harvest. 5th year unlimited harvest.

Limited harvest 2nd year.

Thank you for keeping me in mind Cherri. That is great info.

Ginny Baker

I need this

Love the spring wild harvest

It’s in mah fridge!

It’s hearty, too! A patch my great-grandmother planted in 1905 is STILL thriving in Whitelaw, NY!

Good, yes. But easy to grow . . . No. TJ is right. Limited harvest the first few years.

Nigga who the fuck wants to know how to grow fuckin asparagus

I have found in my area, the best way to grow Asparagus is away from your garden, maybe to better control the Ph and, it takes a couple years for a patch to fully mature to its full potential, Asparagus is not like growing most vegatables, Shoot, I have couple yards that have there patches on the edge of their lawns, that grow with thier grass better than most, but they were well astablished patches also. blah blah blah

I have been trying to grow this for a decade. No luck at all.

After 8 years I finally got a decent crop; wiped out by Sandy. Will get store bought from now on.

One of my favorite veggies.

This is the first time I’ve seen tomatoes mentioned as a companion. Does anyone here have companions in their asparagus bed?

I LOVE IT!!!!

Christy: It’s funny, though, when it comes to perennial plants it seems that the more work and prep time it takes, the longer it will pay off. The only things I know of where you can count on a harvest the first year are strawberries and a few of the hardier herbs, but those have a relatively short life span. It takes 5-10 years for a nut or fruit tree to bear a good harvest, but then it should produce for the next century. So three years for asparagus doesn’t seem so long in comparison, when the established bed should last 20-30 years. Barring disasters like hurricanes & twisters, of course. 🙂

Sarah, I am just getting started, planted my first asparagus crowns in a raised bed last year. But I included perennial beans, sea kale, and sylvetta in the same bed, with strawberries as a ground cover. The sea kale didn’t make it, but everything else seems OK… so far, so good.

That is nice to know. I’m still planning out where to put everything in the new yard.

Its my favorite vegetable

I love it,too!

But the gas…OH! smelly!

i like it but takes 3 yr to get a full harvest i say that yr after yr i should just plant it and quit bitching lol

my favorite vegetable. Mmmm….

My favorite….

Beth: if asparagus gives you gas, try eating it along with a carminative (anti-flatulent) herb. Use a seasoning or sauce that contains garlic, dill, fennel, cumin, ginger or parsley. Or drink a chamomile or mint tea with your meal. That should help.

thank you!

my favorite veggies

Yes! just planted them this past summer.

It takes a long time to establish and be productive, but once it produces, it’s good for a long time. Yummy yummy asparagus…

my favourite veg!! 🙂

Love them raw!

my favourite vegetable

Don Wagner Eilis Wagner Byrnes

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I am a member of Permaculture.

Yup! Growing them for the past 25 years. 🙂

Plant two year roots, then the first year you can eat some but from then on it’s good picking. I’ve had mine for twenty years and don’t know what I would do without them. Oh yea, don’t forget the manure (fertilizer). I use rabbit manure and I let my chickens range through late in the summer after picking is done. Just do it, you won’t regret it!

Plant two year roots, pick some the first year but the second is full picking.

I’ll play it safe so the roots are strongly established.

Until you put all the butter and cheese on it. LMAO and salt.

it part of my garden…love it…if you keep it cut back it will produce all season…and I cut it back every fall to spread more ryzomes each fall..

We grow asparagus at the Pickering Museum Village

hard to get it started, but after that it is hard to get rid of it

Yep, being growing it for 10 years so far.

i did try growing asparagus once but my neighbor dug them up and took over my garden space and that was the end of the asparagus. 🙁

I HATE the stuff yukkkkkkkkkk

Delicious but can be expensive.

It says download a free book, but the instructions/details are there for asparagus and other vegetable and fruits.

So did I and they did great their first season. 🙂

Thank you very much for all the great ideas,

yes and it comes up every year

My favourite!

the first batch

i thought took 2 or 3 years

Properly to get things established you should plant it by digging a trench and mounding in the trench and placing the roots about 24″ apart on top of the mounds…cover and wait 3 long years!!!…LOL

just a little over 3 months can’t wait!

Love asparagus

i love aspraagus i buy them

yes, I had plenty to share.also

I pick the wild asparagus in the spring time!

I Love Asparagus.

yes and it grew in spades,,my father had a patch at least 15 ft long and 3 ft deep,,cut all summer long,,hope its kept up as he is gone now,,but would love to see it preserved,,,,,,,,,,

often…loveit!

I love it so much I have 400′ of asparagus growing…It’s one of my favorites!

Growing mine in Texas!

THAT IS ….IF….. YOU CAN STAND THE TASTE !!! YUKKEE !!!

Not a big fan because of the texture.

Love the stuff, steam it.

Roasted, with garlic and oil

I planted an Asparagus crop 27 years ago, and it’s still producing every spring. Ground Hogs and Deer like eating it too, so the bed will need enclosing if those animals are present on your property.

steam fried with lemon juice…

WHY Grow Asparagus ?

It’s also available in many different colors…..plant a bunch and get a pretty awesome color going in your own asparagus patch…..

Jack Burnett

Since this is so easy to grow , why is it $6 a pound at the grocery store.? I guess it is time to start my own asparagus patch !

Most starts will require year to get a crop. I keep procrastinating and still don’t have any planted. Priced probably because it’s a season thing. Freezes real well.

Love it. Tried to grow it but it gets very weedy. High maintenance.

It’s true that you will not get a crop the first year because you need to let it “grow” to buildup the root stock. By the second year you may be able to get a nice dinner serving, depending on how many you planted to begin with. By the third year you will start really enjoying the production of this timeless vegetable. True it is a “seasonal” crop but it is a delicacy with just a little initial work, rewards you year after year. There are asparagus crops producing for more than 25 years. You do need to leave some of the stalks unpicked near the end of the season, as these stalks will “flower” so that they can gather energy stores over the winter to help the crops produce the next spring. Asparagus in an investment in your vegetable garden just like Peonies or lilac bushes are investments in your flower landscape, and are just like a flower perennial.

I. LOVE. ASPARAGUS. Yum. Can’t wait for Spring.

My favorite veggie!

It grows Wild here! Thank You.

Steamed, mit a mayo/lemon/horseradish sauce sprinkled mit dill

I have a large bed several years old. I salt the bed in the spring with WHITE mixing salt from the feed mill just when I see stalks beginning to poke thru. Old timers saying, salt deep enough to track a rabbit. I don’t salt that deep! Kills the weeds and grass and does not hurt the asparagus.

Pam

So why is asparagus on the do not eat list if you have gout??

I can NOT stand asparagus…….

Anonymous

Having to sign up to finish reading an article is a TOTAL Turnoff.

mphillips4387

Does anyone monitor these threads at all? I understand freedom of speech and all, but the comment made back in January with the derogatory and foul language is way over the top in my opinion. You know that person has no interest in permaculture. I will limit my assumptions to that comment……

I DO love asparagus and keep saying every year that this is the year I’m going to dig the trench! maybe it will happen before winter…… 🙂

Ha! Teach how to grow asparagus and no one but crickets! Our priorities are distorted…One Love

Keep stirring the garden Sustainable living and design!!

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