Make Your Asparagus Bed Once & Enjoy it for 20 Years!

Want to grow vegetables and take it easy? Perennial vegetables are the way to go. Supreme among the perennial vegetables is asparagus -- plant it and then reap the benefits for up to 20 years. An asparagus bed (raised or not) will produce over and over again, and you'll be dining on delicately flavored, homegrown spears you can pick just before a meal -- which might be each meal during asparagus season. Did you ever hear anyone say, No thanks, I've eaten enough asparagus this week? Preparing a bed of rich, light, well-drained soil is the foundation for this garden treasure. In our video Tricia amends the soil in one of her raised beds with organic compost and adds slow-release phosphorus and potassium. If you're planting in new ground you'll need to do some double digging -- don't run away, you only have to do this once every 20 years -- to thoroughly enrich and aerate the soil. Our video has an animation showing you how.

The Trick is in the Trench

Asparagus crowns should spread their roots in trenches. UC Davis suggests a trench eight inches deep, and the University of Missouri recommends a six inch depth. Add fertilizer or an inch of compost, then an inch of soil. Lay the roots flat on either side of the crown and cover all with two inches of soil. Keep an eye on your new plants; as they grow, add more soil so the asparagus is always under two inches of soil. Once the trench soil is level with the surrounding soil you can stop. See? Not so bad.

How to Grow White Asparagus

Still life with asparagus Adriaen Coorte c.1697 Did you know white asparagus is not a different variety from green asparagus? They grow from the same crowns. To make the stalks white, continue the soil-adding process you used to cover the new crowns. You can substitute straw for soil, if you prefer. This time you will be "hilling up" around the stalks as they grow. The stalks will stay white as long as they are not exposed to the sun.

The Asparagus Bed in Winter

For tips on getting your asparagus bed ready for winter, watch our video on Fall Perennial Vegetable Care.

One of the Best Investments in Gardening

Choose a sunny spot for your asparagus bed; you might want to place it where you can appreciate the ferny growth as it waves in the breeze. Dig, enrich, hill up -- and you're set for years to come. Our asparagus crowns come with our own Growing Guide. For more information, see Growing Asparagus in the Garden from the UC Davis Cooperative Extension and Growing Asparagus in Missouri from the University of Missouri Extension. These links are helpful in determining how deep to plant the crowns, depending on your climate.

8 comments

  • Rosanna, the first year of your asparagus you should let them grow and not cut them. In the fall/winter, you can cut down the ferns to the soil level. The second year you can harvest a few spears, but not too many, you are allowing the root crown to grow. The third year and beyond, you can harvest spears as normal.

    Suzanne
  • do I ever trim down the asparagus the first few years or let it just grow. this is year 1 for our bed. I was reading about compost tea what is that

    Rosanna Fuller
  • Phil, you can collect the seeds from the asparagus ferns. Collect them in the fall and next spring, like in February, soak the seeds for a couple of hours, then plant in a soilless seed starting mix, like our Quickstart. Keep them moist, at about 70-85F and they should sprout in 2-4 weeks. Once they have sprouted, allow them to grow for about 10 weeks and can be moved to the garden after all danger of frost has passed.

    Suzanne
  • After last years growing season we had a number of tall asparagus plants 3’ – 5’ high covered with seeds. Do the fallen seeds grow into new plants at all? Thanks Phil.

    Phil Pahl
  • Susie, you may get spears the first year, but you should just let them grow and not pick the spears. The second year you can pick a little and a little more the 3rd year. You should not have to add more soil to the asparagus, unless the crown is pushing its way up.

    Suzanne
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