how to plant, grow & care for asparagus

complete growing guide

If you have plenty of room, growing your own asparagus is a must – it is the vegetable garden caviar. At its best for a short period of time, it’s a real seasonal treat and tastes so much sweeter and lovelier if grown at home and very freshly picked. 


There are a few varieties to choose from, including asparagus 'Millennium' – which is a main season variety, with large spears, high yields and delicious flavour – and asparagus 'Gijnlim', which is a sensationally tasty hybrid variety. Planted together, these two will extend the growing and harvesting season.


My favourite way to eat asparagus is griddled or steamed and with hollandaise sauce, but I do love it in tarts, pies and quiches, as well as soup. The delicate flavour also works really well with fish and is a joy to cook with in spring.


Plan to harvest plenty of your own with our range of asparagus crowns that come ready to plant straight into the kitchen garden. 

details

  • Common name Asparagus
  • Latin name Asparagus
  • Type Perennial vegetable
  • Height Ferns reach up to 1.2m (4ft)
  • TLC rating Moderately easy
  • Aspect Full Sun
  • Spacing 30cm (1ft) apart, 50cm (20in) between the rows
  • Yield One plant can provide about 300g of spears
  • Suitable for pots No 
  • Grow in a greenhouse? No

calendar

JAN
FEB
MAR
APR
MAY
JUN
JUL
AUG
SEP
OCT
NOV
DEC
Sow Under Cover/Plant Indoors
Direct Sow/Plant Outdoors
Flowers/Harvest

how to grow asparagus

where to grow asparagus

Soil type: Asparagus likes fertile soil that’s freely drained and free from weeds. It’s a good idea to prepare the bed in advance, enriching the soil with well-rotted manure in winter.


Aspect & Position: Choose an open position in full sun for your asparagus bed.


when to plant asparagus

Plant out asparagus crowns in March or April.


how to plant asparagus

Prepare your asparagus bed by digging in well-rotted manure and removing perennial weeds. You can do this the previous winter. Asparagus likes the soil freely drained, so add grit if gardening on heavy clay.

Plant asparagus crowns outdoors as soon as possible after receiving them in March or April. Plant crowns 30cm (1ft) apart. Leave 50cm (20in) between the rows. 

Dig a wide trench about 20cm (8in) deep and 30cm (1ft) wide. Form a ridge of soil down the centre of the trench. The ridge should be just high enough so that the crown buds end up just below the soil surface. Place the crown on the ridge, draping the roots either side of the ridge. Keep well watered.

It’s important to continue to keep the bed free of weeds while the asparagus is growing. They compete with the crowns, so mulch deeply with compost in early spring and remove any weeds by hand as the asparagus roots can be shallow.


how to care for asparagus

watering

Keep well-watered, particularly during a dry period.

fertilising

Give your asparagus a high-nitrogen feed in early summer once the crowns have stopped producing, this is to encourage the ferns. 

deadheading

Cut the asparagus ferns to the ground in late autumn when they are brown.

harvesting

Do not harvest spears in the first year after planting, and only a few in the second year. After that, the plants should be established and you will be able to cut lots of spears. Cut individual spears just below the soil with a sharp knife.
 
When the crowns stop producing heavily, they are coming to the end of their natural season. Stop harvesting and allow the ferns to grow.

As a rough guide, ten established plants should yield about 3kg (7lb) of spears, over a six-week period each year for up to twenty years. I have thirty crowns, which produce enough for regular meals for our family of four. 

seasonal checklist

spring

  • Plant asparagus crowns in a prepared bed in early spring.
  • In the third year, harvest asparagus spears in April, May and June.

summer

  • Harvest the last of the asparagus spears.
  • Once the crown is no longer heavily productive, allow the ferns to grow.


autumn

  • Cut the asparagus ferns to the ground in late autumn when they are brown.

winter

  • Mulch the asparagus bed and keep on top of any perennial weeds.

pests, diseases & common issues

asparagus beetle

Watch out for asparagus beetle, a small yellow and black beetle with a red head. The beetles and their buff-coloured grubs eat the foliage and the bark of the stems, sometimes defoliating them completely and weakening them. Pick these pests off whenever you see them.

will deer or rabbits eat asparagus?

Deer and rabbits are both unlikely to bother your asparagus.

how do you get rid of weeds in an asparagus patch?

The key thing with weed control is to use a carpet of mulch to prevent any weed seed from germinating in your soil. This should make your patch relatively weed-free through the summer and so easier to maintain.
Remove any weeds by hand during spring and summer to avoid damaging the asparagus roots.

what are the bugs on my asparagus plants?

Check regularly for asparagus beetles and remove these by hand to avoid a severe infestation.


frequently asked questions


how long does asparagus take to grow?

After planting the crowns, it’s best to let the plant establish for a couple of years. Do not harvest spears in the first year after planting, and only a few in the second year. After that, you should be able to cut lots of spears.


how big can asparagus grow?

Asparagus spears grow to about 15-20cm (6-8in) tall. When the ferns are left to grow they can reach up to 1.2m (4ft).


does asparagus spread?

Once established after a couple of years, asparagus plants will slowly spread.


when should you stop picking asparagus?

Stop harvesting asparagus once the crown has stopped being heavily productive. At that point (usually early summer), allow the ferns to grow.


is asparagus easy to grow?

Asparagus is relatively easy to grow given the right weed-free and sunny site – you just need plenty of space and fertile soil.


does asparagus need full sun?

Yes, asparagus needs full sun to thrive.


how do you make an asparagus bed?

See my full guide to preparing a vegetable bed from scratch. The key for asparagus is an open, sunny position, fertile soil and plenty of weed control.


will frost hurt asparagus?

It’s possible for a late frost to damage fresh growth. If you suspect a cold snap, cover the asparagus bed with horticultural fleece to protect emerging spears.


how many spears does one asparagus plant produce?

As a rough guide, ten established plants should yield about 3kg (7lb) of spears, over a six-week period each year for up to twenty years. I have thirty crowns, which produce enough for regular meals for our family of four. 


how do you store asparagus crowns?

The crowns should be planted as soon as you receive them in March or April rather than being stored.


is asparagus toxic to cats and dogs?

Asparagus isn’t toxic to cats or dogs.


browse our range

asparagus recipes

Find out how to cook your home-grown produce and get inspiration for tasty meals with our seasonal recipes:

you may be interested in growing...