THE ONLY POST YOU’LL EVER NEED ON HOW TO GROW ASPARAGUS. BOOOYA!

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Yeah, that’s right.  THIS is the only information you’ll ever need on how to grow asparagus.  GOOYA!  Oh wow.  I hit the wrong letter on the keyboard.

That should read BOOYA!  My mistake.  GOOYA,  as we all know, is the sound a baby makes when they score a touchdown. It has nothing to do with the excitement of FINALLY growing asparagus.

I say finally growing asparagus because asparagus is one of those things that everyone (me) seems to put off planting because they (me) hate the fact that they have to wait 15 (actually 2) years to harvest it.

 

asparagus-crowns

Asparagus is a bigger miracle than a toothless baby quarterbacking in the NFL let me assure you.  It’s a perennial vegetable that will stay strong and grow bigger and bigger for decades, feeding your family for generations.

Unless you come from a family of asparagus haters in which case it’ll be more of a decorative statement.

Asparagus you see, turns into 4-6′ tall ferny plants once it’s done producing asparagus in the spring.

asparagus-crowns-2

 

Basically asparagus is fantastic all around.  But you can’t harvest it for the first 2 years.  Which is where asparagus loses a lot of people.

The actual job of planting asparagus is easy. It’s the waiting that’s hard.

You buy the asparagus crowns either at a local nursery or through mail order and then you put them in the ground.  Easy.

You just have to get over the idea that you won’t be able to eat any of it until you’re frail and elderly.  It’s 2 years.  You will not be frail and elderly.  You probably won’t even have cleaned behind your couch by then.  You will have asparagus before your next behind-the-couch cleaning.  That’s not too long to wait is it?  No it is not. 2 years isn’t a big deal.

Now.  Don’t you wish when you first thought of planting asparagus that you’d actually done it because you could be picking and eating that asparagus this spring?

Yes. Of course you do, because you’re not an idiot.  You’re just weird about planting asparagus.

asparagus-on-crown

Great crowns like this will cost you anywhere from $0.75 – $1.50 per crown.   I ordered my crowns from a wholesaler that grows the asparagus crowns themselves and got 50 of them for $37.50.  Which is cheap. If you’re buying them from someone other than a wholesaler expect to pay twice as much.

HOW MANY ASPARAGUS CROWNS DO YOU NEED?

Expect to plant around 10 crowns per family member that loves asparagus.

50 plants for a family of 4.

Plant MORE if you want to blanch and freeze asparagus for the winter.

asparagus-bed

 

To plant asparagus, dig a trench that’s 8 inches deep.   Make a little hill to form the asparagus roots over.  Unlike strawberries, you want the crown of the asparagus to be under the soil by about 2″.

 

planting-asparagus

 

As the asparagus grows throughout the spring, mound more soil up around the growing spears and then mulch with straw.  But you don’t have to mulch with straw.  It’s the “gardeney” thing to do, but whatever.  So is peeing on your compost so …

HOW TO GROW ASPARAGUS

asparagus-tipsheet

Do that and you’ll be eating asparagus in no time.

Well … in 2 years actually.  Which will seem like 15.

Gooya.

59 Comments

  1. Susan Esch says:

    Very nicely done. When I start craving asparagus, I can read and reread your post. Surely it will help time fly! Gooya.

  2. Cred says:

    Yay! Already did it. I planted them in 2014 and thus my first harvest. So excited! And they’re delicious!

  3. Paula says:

    Where did you buy it? Everywhere that I have looked has been sold out for this year.

    • Karen says:

      I bought it in November Paula. :/ You do have to order early for any crops like strawberries, asparagus or other perennial types. I got it from http://www.lareault.com. ~ karen!

      • Paula says:

        I got my asparagus to plant this year. I have two questions that are related to our climate because it is difficult to find info specifically for Ontario (sometimes). How much sun do they need? and what are their water requirements?
        Thanks!

        • Karen says:

          Hi Paula. I’m pretty “fend for yourself” when it comes to vegetables. I’ve been known to water in the very, very hot spells of summer, but it isn’t something I do often. And other than lettuces in the heat of summer I plant everything and anything in full sun (8 hours per day min.). Sorry, I’m sure this answer isn’t much help to you! ~ karen

  4. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    2 years…I did not know this thing….

  5. Marna says:

    I use to grow asparagus years ago, like about 25, but my husband got tired of looking at the plant. I loved it for both the plant and eating. It was so nice to just go out and pick a few or a bunch just before dinner. My husband dug it up, he wanted the garden smaller. It was pretty large, and it became too much for me to do after having my third son plus I worked full time. Looks like you will have a bunch in the future, yum! 🙂

  6. Carey says:

    We planted last year. My question is, do you cut down all the ferns in the winter? I’m in So Cal where we have a long growing season. Thanks, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carey! I’m not sure about California, but I imagine it would be the same. Once the tops die back you can clip them. But there isn’t any real need to and in fact some people like to leave them until the spring so they can see where their asparagus plants will be sprouting from. 🙂 ~ karen!

  7. Liz says:

    Novice Alert! Just planted asparagus for the first time, but after reading your post, I don’t think I planted enough. So, do they multiply like tulips or do I have to plant more next year, and wait three years for a substantial harvest? Oh dear, I’m afraid I’ll have to wait forever!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz. The plants don’t necessarily multiply like tulips but they do get bigger and bigger every year. Like a hosta. And you can eventually split asparagus plants the same. So you’ll end up with a good amount of asparagus it’ll just take you longer to get there if you didn’t plant a lot. ~ karen!

  8. Keely says:

    Or to be even cheaper you can easily grow them from seed! You can find the seed anywhere (maybe even behind your couch). I live in zone 2a and they do fine in my garden with no protection, although I do not cut them down.

  9. Dee says:

    I love asparagus! I’m planning to plant some crowns next year. What variety did you plant? The only thing I dread is the little beetles the ferny foliage attracted when I had them at my last property, but I think you can just blast those buggers off with a garden hose.

  10. Ann says:

    A couple of quick things to add. It is better to grow an all male variety of asparagus. The females put a lot of their precious plant energy into blooming and setting seed. The all male variety does not. I have asparagus all over my property now because I did not get the all male kind. But luckily the volunteer plants are giving me big fat spears every spring and I pick as much of those as I do the original plants .

    ,Another hint is to make sure you won’t end up with a lot of weed competition. They hate fighting for nutrients with other plants. That is where a good mulching program comes into play

  11. Judith says:

    Gooya! I am actually, at the time of this writing, awaiting a shipment of asparagus crowns to plant in my newly dug bed. The talk I had with myself was pretty much the talk you just had with us – if I’d just gone ahead and done this a couple years ago when it first occurred to me we’d be eating asparagus right now! Great minds think alike!

    p.s. A motion to start peeing on the compost has been submitted at the last two family garden discussions. Oddly, the family member possessing the appendage that would make this the easiest is not at all enthusiastic.

  12. Gail Blain Peterson says:

    Our asparagus bed is 3 years old — so worth the wait!!

  13. Karol says:

    All I have to say is God Bless Farmers! You know how you look at some people and their jobs and say, “I would never do that!” That’s what I think about farming. My father’s family is FULL of farmers, and it’s a tough row to hoe, ironically speaking. But God Bless ’em, and anyone else who dedicates their lives to growing food for the rest of us. And wow! Two years for asparagus! Who knew.

  14. Mary W says:

    I don’t understand the stop picking from mature plants when the tips are pencil sized. I would think that is when I should start picking. I know the larger stalks taste better so are you saying naughty girl – stop picking the pencil ones until they grow larger? or are you saying I should not pick anymore until I divide the plant. I’m not growing any in Florida but inquiring minds, you know.

    • Karen says:

      Hey Mary! Sorry, I should have been clearer. As the plant grows throughout the spring the asparagus spears get weaker and smaller. After around 4 weeks of producing asparagus or so. Once they start to diminish to the size of a pencil, stop picking them for the season. 🙂 ~ karen!

    • Katie Schneider says:

      We’re talking diameter, not length. Early on, they’re thick and get thinner as the season goes. (So dirty!)

  15. Meredith says:

    I weeded my asparagus bed last night. Stupid thistles. I always planted in rows, like every guidebook said. But! The best asparagus bed I ever saw was a raised bed in someone’s yard that was about 8 feet long by 6 feet wide and it was SOLID asparagus. No orderly rows, just coming up everywhere…..no empty spaces. I have to think that was a better way to go about it because there simply wasn’t room for weeds to come in.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Meredith! It could have been that the bed was just old and the asparagus had all filled in. That’s the reason you leave so much space in between the asparagus plants when you first plant them. Because over time to get so big they’ll fill that space in. 🙂 ~ karen!

  16. Michele S says:

    I just planted my asparagus patch this year! Already I have a few little spears poking up. I know I can’t eat them – but am I supposed to do anything to them at all? Just let them sit there, waving in the breeze?

    So excited for 2018 when I can actually eat them!

    • Karen says:

      Let ’em wave Michele, lol. You can add the straw mulch on top to keep weeds down and a good moisture level, but if you’ve planted them your job is done for the year. 🙂 It’s all up to them now. ~ karen!

  17. I have planted asparagus the last two years -they never seem to grow for me. I went to the trouble of soaking them first last year, because I read on-line it would help. Still no asparagus, and I’m surely due. So where did you get yours? Mine was from the nursery, but it didn’t have those little asparagus baby buds like yours did in the picture. Mine looked like dried up giant spiders. Is it hard to grow?…or just me. I want some asparagus.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dannyelle! I had a lot of trouble when I first tried to grow asparagus which was about 10 years ago. I did the same as you and bought some crowns from my local garden centre. There were many reasons they didn’t grow including putting them where there wasn’t enough sun and then trying to move them from here to there. These last crowns were from laurealt.com a wholesaling company out of Quebec that grows all their own plants. Having them form tiny asparagus was just a fluke and in fact it’s better to get crowns where that hasn’t happened yet because it proves they’re still dormant. Mine were shipped a bit late for some reason, hence they had just started to break dormancy. ~ karen!

  18. Jody says:

    How do you grow white asparagus? And a silly comment–while slowly scrolling down reading your blog for the briefest of moments I thought the photo of you crouched over the bed with your hood up was actually you with crazy blond hair coming out of your hood. Silly, I know.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jody! To grow asparagus that’s white you just mound it up so it doesn’t get any light. 🙂 ~ karen!

  19. Jani says:

    karen! Thanks for the detailed instructions. I remember my sister in law bringing bags full to my Mom because my brother would get out his mower and run over them!! Idiot!

  20. Kim says:

    Ok, everything was nice and clear to me and while I’m not crazy about asparagus I think I may like to have those big ferny fronds in my garden……..one question though…….why in Gods name should I pee on my compost?

  21. If you order the plants in November, when do you plant them? Right away? Because here in Ottawa, that’s frost time and it’s gets pretty cold PDQ.

    Madeleine

  22. My asparagus are now 4 years old, and this was the first year I got a decent harvest. The fronds, however, are about 8′ tall. Crazy insane mass of green. Forget juniper hedges, just plant asparagus!

  23. Stephbo says:

    My husband loves asparagus. Mind you, it’s not about the actual asparagus, but rather it’s about the fact that it makes your pee smell funny. He’d be more than happy to “water” compost as long as he eats asparagus first.

    Who am I kidding? He’d be happy to”water” the compost regardless!

    • Penny says:

      You’re right, it does make your pee smell weird, but that’s incredibly useful if you go fishing from a boat … asparagus pee attracts fish!
      I’m not sure if hubby would be interested in that fact. If he would, maybe you shouldn’t tell him; it sounds like he might be the type to take up fishing just so he had an excuse to pee overboard.

  24. Jessica O'Connor says:

    I planted my asparagus at least 2 years ago, but I didn’t get the thick stalks you were talking about. Should I be doing anything with the plant when it first pokes through in the spring? Or am I just not being patient enough for the thick stuff?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jessica. Your asparagus just isn’t old enough to have nice big spears yet. The older the plant gets the bigger the spears. The same way a young tree has slim tree branches and an older one has big ones. It also depends on the variety of your asparagus. Some are naturally thicker than others. ~ karen!

  25. Jay says:

    Building the asparagus bed was the first thing we did when we moved here 14 years ago.
    Best. Decision. Ever.

    The asparagus are getting a little thinner and less productive now, but after 12 years of good meals we can’t complain. We’ve started a new asparagus patch to take over from the exhausted one.

    I think the trouble with planting asparagus is one of mindset. Don’t think of it as planting vegetables – we’re used to picking things within a few weeks of sowing seed with veg.
    Think of it like a fruit tree. You’d expect to wait for the fruit tree to mature a bit before it produced fruit, and after that it needs no help from you but a good mulch every year. Asparagus is the same.

  26. Leslie says:

    Karen I looked high and low and couldn’t find asparagus roots but I did find seeds. I am going to try to plant them and see what happens. I could try online but thought I would try the seeds first. I will let you know what happens.

    • Karen says:

      They’ll be fine Leslie, they just take longer to get asparagus from. I know many people who started their asparagus from seed. Plant them in a “nursery bed”. A bed free of weeds and other plants. Then in the fall transplant them into their final resting place. 😉 ~ karen!

      • Great info and article! Thank you!

        I too have asparagus seeds and planned on starting with those as opposed to crowns. When you say it takes longer to get to the point of being able to harvest asparagus when you plan from seeds… how much longer does it take? Like a another year? Thanks in advance for any insight you can share!

        • Karen says:

          Hi Josh. I’d count on another year until you can pick … possibly two depending on how the first year’s growth goes. And really you can pick a few spears if your plants are doing well just to have one serving of it in the 3rd year or so. Just not so much that you decrease the energy of the plant. ~ karen!

  27. Leslie says:

    Oh that sounds good. Ok I will do that then maybe beside the house where I can keep a close eye on them in a fresh bed of new triple mix and composted rabbit poop. Thanks Karen.

  28. Patty says:

    We bought a home with an established bed. What kind of mulch should I put on an established bed? Can I use the same mulch I put around my shrubs and flowers?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patty. An established bed still needs you to add nutrients every year. I’d add 2-3 inches of compost on top of the bed and call it a day. But if you like you can add straw over the whole bed. Wood chips are fine too. They’re mainly to keep moisture in and weeds down. They add a bit of nutrients to the soil as they decompose as well. ~ karen!

  29. Patty says:

    We bought a home with an established asparagus bed and we love it! This is very informative!

    I was wondering what kind of mulch I should use and when is the best time to mulch. Can I use the same mulch that I put around my shrubs and flower gardens?

    In one of the comments, I saw that the plants can also be split – when is the best time to split them? I have several that are in tight clumps.

    Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patty. The best time to split the plants is when they’re dormant so it depends on where you live. I moved my entire asparagus bed this February when they were dormant and from the look of it all of the plants survived the move. That’s also a good time to split them. The best time to mulch with compost is actually in the fall after the plants have died back. You want to get it on there so the nutrients are available when the asparagus starts producing. You can also add some mid summer. ~ karen!

  30. Beth says:

    I planted my asparagus a month ago. I just realized i didn’t spread the roots apart. Should i dig up and redo?

    • Karen says:

      Well, just see how they grow Beth. You must have spread them apart a little bit because that’s how they grow. It’s actually difficult to push them downwards. They naturally want to grow horizontally so chances are they’ll find their way.~ karen!

  31. Marchelle Miller says:

    I pick asparagus for about 6 weeks. Or – when it starts to fern out( I call it going to seed). Then I quit picking it. The ferns grow till it freezes then I trim them down to a few inches off ground. And then they pop up in the spring. LOVE IT!

  32. Julia says:

    Hi Karen, I live in zone 3 (Warroad, MN- 7 miles from Canada!) and I just bought a house and really want to grow asparagus. I moved from zone 8 and know nothing about growing in such a cold climate. Should I plant my crowns now? Or wait until spring? Same goes with garlic, I’m thinking late September for it.

    Thanks!
    Julia

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia! I’m in a zone 6b so I’m not really sure about the ins and out of Zone 3. I’d suspect late September would be a little late for planting garlic in that zone but that’s just a guess. Asparagus crowns get planted in the spring normally as soon as the ground can be worked. But best way to tell when’s the best time for planting in your area is to see when things are for sale. So if your local seed stores or garden centres are selling asparagus crowns in the spring, you know that’s the time to plant them. ~ karen!

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