Asparagus is one of the few vegetables which is best to buy as "crowns"
i.e. plants which are ready for planting. Although you can sow seeds, it
takes a certain degree of skill and a lot of patience, so we recommend
buying the ready grown crowns. These are sold as 1 year old, 2 year old
and 3 year old plants and are usually delivered "bare rooted".
You can buy 1 year olds if you have the patience to wait 2 years before
harvesting. We recommend buying 2 year olds as not only should you
be harvesting the year after planting, but these are more likely
to take more easily than 3 year old crowns which can be temperamental.
Well looked after plants will continue to produce asparagus for
up to 20 years.
Height - Up to 30cm/ 36" - Spread allow +30cm/1ft
Yield per plant
Up to 25 spears once established
Time between planting and harvesting
1 year old crowns - 2-3 years
2 year old crowns - 1-2 years
3 year old crowns - 1 year
Late March - April - temperature +18C/64F
Where to Sow
In well prepared ground. Site must have good drainage and be
in a relatively sunny position. Dig the ground thoroughly in
the autumn, incorporating a good layer of manure or compost
then leave until the spring when ready to plant and fork
over to break up the clods.
How to Plant
Dig a hole about 20cm/8" deep and 30cm/12" sq. If planting
several plants, it will be easier to dig a trench.
Make the centre a little higher than the sides thus creating
a mound of earth then spread the roots on the crown out
evenly over the mound and immediately cover with about
5cm.2" of soil, leaving the rest of the hole/trench empty.
The shoots will start to appear very soon, at which point
you should start filling the hole gradually as the shoots
grow taller, until the soil is level with the surrounding
If growing in containers, only use very large containers -
at least 45cm/18" in diameter and 45cm/18" deep - and only
plant 1 crown in each container as above.
Growing on - 1st year
It is very important that you don't harvest any
spears in the first year. The spears must be left
to develop into bushy fern-like stems. Pick off any
berries and allow the ferns to die back and turn yellow,
then cut down to ground level in October. If you have
planted 1 year old crowns, then you should repeat this
process for another year (2 years in all).
This may seem a long time, however bear in mind a properly
prepared and well looked after asparagus plant will provide
asparagus for between 10 and 20 years.
Growing on 2nd and subsequent years
Before the spears start appearing, lightly rake in a
little general fertilizer such as Growmore in early spring.
Keep the area free from weeds - this is best done by hand to
avoid damaging any spears which have be underground. You can
also apply a layer of compost to the surface.
Patience! The first year you harvest, only pick a few spears
from each plant allowing the rest to mature into feathered
ferns to build up the plant's strength.
From the 2nd year of harvesting, you can pick as many as you
like - and in fact, they grow so quickly, you may have to
cut spears every day.
Cut the spears once they have reached about 12cm/5" high.
Use a sharp kitchen knife and cut the stems about 7.5cm/3"
below the soil level. Stop harvesting by mid June
to allow the ferns to develop as above in
order to re-build the plant's reserves for next year.
Both the adult beetle adult and larvae chew spears during
the spring and can also defoliate the plant in the summer.
1. Hand pick the adults from plants
2. Remove the dark brown eggs from the spears.. Chemical
3. Spray with pyrethrum
1.After harvesting clear debris and turn the soil over
around plants to disturb beetles.
2. Early inspection of plants for tell tale signs
3. Harvest spears as early as possible.
Violet Root Rot
Leaves yellow and die and roots covered with purple mould
Organic None. Dig up and destroy affected plants. In severe
cases, destroy all the plants in the bed and replant new
asparagus elsewhere. Chemical None
Tomato, Parsley, Basil
Create a bio-diverse environment by planting flowers
nearby to attract bees, ladybirds and other "friendlies". To learn more about companion planting click
In the Kitchen
Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Excess amounts can be frozen. Prepare as
below then blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, drain well and allow
to cool before freezing
Cut off the woody ends of the stalk or pare with a peeler. Rinse well in
20 minutes - Drizzle liberally with oil and seasonings
7 - 10
5 - 8
5 - 8
For more preparation and cooking information about asparagus plus lots
of recipes visit our sister site