All about asparagus

Asparagus is a delicious perennial crop that tastes all the better when picked fresh from the garden. Best of all, growing asparagus is easy. Asparagus can be grown from seed, or more commonly, from asparagus crowns purchased in winter while the plants are bare rooted (without soil).

It is from this crown that your crop will develop, but be patient, you shouldn’t harvest spears the first year, instead, let these run to fern and die down naturally. 

Long-lived perennials, asparagus will crop in your garden for around 20-25 years so it’s important to select a suitable location, improve the soil prior to planting, and leave them to develop with minimal root disturbance.


Crowns should be planted in late winter to early spring, whilst in a dormant state. 

1. Plant into a well prepared free draining soil that is rich in organic matter - improve soil prior to planting if required. Asparagus is a long-lived crop so now is your best chance to get the soil right. 

2. Dig a trench around 30cm deep and backfill a ridge of soil to allow the crown to sit just below ground level. 

3. Place asparagus crowns on the mound, with the crown facing upward and the roots fanning downward. Trim roots if necessary — sometimes they can be very long or damaged. 

4. Gently cover over the crown and roots with 5cm of organic rich soil so that the trench is now partially filled and water well. 

5. Mulch leaving the top of the crown clear to develop. Make sure you stake the area to avoid accidentally digging up your asparagus. 

As the new growth appears you can gradually fill the trench with additional soil until it is completely full and level. Trenching in this manner encourages optimum growth and helps maintain strong upright plants.


The usual time for picking is in early spring. The new growth produces the best new spears. We usually pick a few at this time and then let the other spears produce into foliage fronds, allowing at least 4-6 fronds per plant. These fronds are needed to ensure the plant has enough foliage/photosynthetic material to actively grow in future years.

If additional spears keep coming you can then harvest these again whilst maintaining the 4-6 main fronds. The usual harvest period is Sept to Dec, occasionally producing spears in autumn. Protect emerging fronds from snails and slugs. It is best not to harvest spears for the first few years to enable good long term establishment. 


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After care

Asparagus is a herbaceous perennial. It will go dormant in the winter and re-grow in the spring. Dead fronds will usually pull away easily in winter but sometimes they will need pruning off at ground level. Winter is the best time to also top dress with well rotted animal manure and compost. 

Occasionally fronds will grow up to 1.5m tall, these can be staked, although we find it easier to prune them back by a third, reducing the total weight of the plant. Long fronds may otherwise break at the base or lie down smothering neighbouring plants. 

Asparagus are either male or female plants. It is said that the males produce superior spears but we have found very little difference between the two. Both male and female will flower whilst only the female will set fruit. Fruiting female fronds should be removed in late autumn to prevent potential unwanted seedlings.

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