After a long winter the sight of asparagus spears in the garden is the first reward we receive for making it through another winter. Growing your own asparagus can be simple, with a little help. Learn how to properly plant your asparagus roots and care for them.

Planting Asparagus

plant asparagus in a trench

Asparagus starts as unassuming roots or crowns. They can take up to 5 years to yield a heavy crop so it’s best to get roots that are older. At Heeman’s we sell two year old crowns, grown specifically for grower production. You should be prepared to wait at least one year to harvest asaparagus after planting. But don’t worry, they are worth the wait.

Asparagus grows best in deep, well-drained, sandy loam soil. If you have heavier soil, not to worry, it is still possible to grow asparagus and many people believe the taste is more substantial. Dig a trench 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) deep in rows 4 feet (1.2 metres) apart. The asparagus crowns are then laid in the trench 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Cover the crowns with 2-3 inches (6-9 cm) of soil. Once the asparagus begins to emergy in the furrow, gradually fill, removing small weeds. Eventually, the furrow should be level with surrounding soil. Control weeds and insect pests, and water when necessary. Fern can be left standing all winter where it catches snow and provides an attractive cover for wildlife.

Year Two & Beyond

guide to planting asparagus rootsThe following year, mow down the fern and work the soil. This should be done 2-3 weeks before spears emerge. You should apply a general purpose garden fertilizer at the same time, before spears appear.

Vigorous stands may be lightly harvested the second year, but on a very limited basis. Each year, the harvest can be extended until full production is reached in 4-6 years. Stop the harvest when 3.4 of spears’ diameters are less than 3/8 inches (1.5 cm). The growth of your spears will be slowed by cold nights or even damaged with frost. Typically your asparagus will yield a crop for 3 weeks. You can harvest asparagus spears when they are between 6-8 inches (15-21 cm). Upon your seasons completely it’s a good idea to again apply a general purpose fertilizer or one that is high in nitrogen.

An asparagus stand can last and be productive for 10-20 years with better care extending a stands life. Best of the extensive and deep roots asparagus sets in they are difficult to move or disturb, so replacing them with new crowns is advisable.