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It’s easy to grow asparagus. Make sure you plant it right side up and you’ll be enjoying asparagus for years to come! It’s not fussy. It’s easy even for a beginning gardener.
Asparagus is one of my very favorite things to eat! I love it raw, roasted, or grilled, and I can’t imagine there is a way I wouldn’t like it.
I hated asparagus as a kid because we ate canned. Bleck! Eaten raw, it tastes sort of like fresh peas straight from the garden. When it’s roasted or grilled until it’s browned and lovely, it tastes so amazing. I can’t even describe it. Browning a vegetable carmelizes the sugars in it making it rich and sweet tasting.
Asparagus is planted in Spring and grows well in most zones up to zone 8b. It may be too warm to grow it there. To check out what your USDA zone is, click here. You will need to know your zone in order to find planting times for what you are growing. Check the instructions on your seeds or crowns to know exactly when to plant your asparagus.
Asparagus is perennial which means you plant it once and it grows year after year. My mom talks about harvesting asparagus from a field near her farm that was planted after the land run in Oklahoma, so it’s over 100 years old and still producing! WOW! Talk about a return on your investment!
How to plant asparagus from seed
We are trying to grow as many perennials as possible at Little Sprouts because they are less work and less money we will have to expand in future years, so trying to grow asparagus was a natural choice for us. The first year we planted seeds that take 3 years to produce asparagus you can eat.
Asparagus crowns come dry in a small bunch of roots. You lay them out like a spider over the soil on a hill and cover the tops with 4 inches of soil. The roots look like fat little fingers. The top part is called the crown, so the root balls are sold in crowns. When the asparagus grows, it looks sort of like a crown coming out of the root ball.
Planting asparagus crowns
The second-year we planted crowns, which can be eaten in just two. We made a big mistake planting them upside down, but after a couple of months of nothing happening, we turned them over, and guess what?
They actually did not die, we are eating asparagus off of them this year! This is our fourth year of gardening, so we are getting asparagus from both beds this year and it’s so wonderful! It’s amazing that we can grow asparagus! You can too!
Several of the kids like it raw, and most of them like it cooked. If you want to grow some for yourself, follow a few simple steps and you are on your way to deliciousness.
Asparagus does not like to compete with other plants, so plant your bed with just asparagus and nothing else. It does do well with strawberries (they have a shallow root system) and they meet each other’s needs.
Keep it well weeded as well as it does not want the competition of grass or other weeds either.
It is not fussy and does not require a lot of fertilizer or anything else. Just make sure it gets an inch of water a week just like most of your other garden plants, you will be thrilled with your results. You can add some compost to the top of the bed every fall before you mulch it well for winter, but it really doesn’t like a lot of extra fuss.
My Little Spouts and I are not exactly a group of green thumbs yet, we make a lot of mistakes and have a lot of failures, but asparagus has been a huge success for us. Even if you think you are not good at growing things, give asparagus a try, I bet you’ll be surprised at how good you are at it.
Buy asparagus crowns
You can get asparagus crowns many places, even amazon. Sometimes they will have them at your local nursery as well.
There are many great varieties of asparagus, there is even purple asparagus! It’s really good! It comes in white and there are multiple green varieties.
We love growing heirlooms and one great heirloom variety is Mary Washington. I love the idea of growing stuff that the settlers grew back in the day and this name makes me think about our founding fathers. It’s the first asparagus we grew and we grew it from seed.
Plant your crowns or seeds about 1 1/2 feet apart. Make sure if you use crowns, that you put the fat roots down. The crowns we planted upside down had little hairs on the top and fat roots on the bottom, we thought the little hairs were the roots. Asparagus roots are about as big around as a pencil almost. They go down. Live and learn, or listen to what we did. Silly us.
When planting them, make a long row about 8 inches deep and hill the soil up in the center. The crowns are kind of bowl-shaped. Place the bowl of roots on top of the mound in your soil and then fill in around the tops. Your crowns will be completely under the ground when you are finished planting. If you plant seeds, you just place them in the ground about 2 inches deep and follow the rest of the steps mentioned here for crowns.
Once you have them planted, water them in well and mulch them well to keep them moist. Then get ready to wait.
When the asparagus comes up, it grows straight up out of the crown. You can harvest any spears larger in diameter than a drinking straw or pencil. To harvest them, just break or cut them off at the ground. I tell the kids, crack them over. They will snap.
If they are smaller than a straw, leave them. The plant needs some ferns in order to store up the energy to make asparagus the following year. Once you leave the spear, it will bloom into a beautiful fern and look gorgeous in your garden all summer. The ferns die off in the winter.
After they are completely brown, you can trim them down for the next year, they have gotten all the energy out of them they can. The following spring, you will start to get spears again and you can watch for any that are big enough to harvest. Then the cycle starts all over again, take the ones that are big enough, leave the skinny ones for the plant.
Asparagus is super fun because it is ready to harvest before most of your other crops are ready. Getting to harvest something in March or April gets your garden juices flowing. It’s so refreshing as you long for the tastes of summer! You may even get a few more spears to harvest in fall. But remember, to only take the big ones.
Asparagus ferns grow little berries on top after it produces and those berries are full of little seeds that sprinkle out in the fall. You can grow more asparagus plants from those if you’d like.
Another way to get more asparagus plants is by transplanting asparagus. Once the plants are established, they will put off more plants in that bed. If you don’t thin them every few years, your asparagus will stop producing as much. Then it’s time to divide.
Divide your asparagus roots during the dormant season, January or February if you can work your soil then. They start to produce asparagus around March in Oklahoma, so you don’t want to wait until then. They need to be dormant.
It’s hard work to divide crowns, but you’ll have more plants to plant or give away and the ones you divided are mature and will actually produce better. Carefully dig up the crown. It may be 2 feet in diameter now or much smaller. The crowns you start out with are like an inch across the top and maybe 5 to 7 inches long, so you’re going to be shocked at how much they grew.
Gently tease the crowns apart from the main crown without damaging the roots. You can use the water hose to remove the soil and make this easier or you can use a fork or spade. Just do as little damage as possible.
Once you have them separated, just replant or give them away. There will be even more asparagus to enjoy! (And they may even produce that very year)
For more information on what to plant when, check out this month by month garden planting guide.
For more perennials to grow in your vegetable garden, check out these 44 other ideas.
- Hot peppers and sweet peppers
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Luffa sponges
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussel Sprouts
- Birdhouse gourds
More information on how to build raised beds, build a trellis for your plants, and basic gardening information you need is available here in these beginning gardening videos. Click here for more information. You can even download a tour of what types of beds we have in our preschool gardens for free.