Skip to Content

How to Grow Asparagus-Ultimate Success Guide

Grow asparagus for a perennial crop of spring green delicacies. Plant a bed of asparagus in your garden for a permanent crop.

You’ll harvest asparagus for many many years with only slight maintenance over time.

Learn how to properly choose your asparagus crowns and plant and maintain your asparagus bed.

An asparagus bed requires a certain amount of commitment from you, the gardener, and long range planning.

The payback in nutrient and flavor gain from Asparagus grown in your garden is the best return of any vegetable you can grow.

Asparagus Crowns In A Dirt Trench.
Asparagus crowns are planted in a trench. The roots are arranged over a dirt mound for each crown.

Dave and I enjoy raw asparagus from our garden . We love it that way fresh picked.

Fresh Asparagus has a wonderful flavor with a delicate crunch.  This vegetable is a Spring delicacy, freshly picked  and steamed or roasted for dinner.

Due to it’s very fast respire rate, Asparagus is one of the vegetables most adversely affected by long term storage.  It quickly degrades. This is one crop that really is best fresh for best flavor and nutrients. So grow your own.

Garden Fresh Asparagus
The very freshest asparagus is grown right in your garden

Why you should Grow asparagus in your garden:

  • Asparagus will last in your garden for many years so you get a lot of bang for your buck on this crop once it’s established.
  • Asparagus is chock full of great nutrients!

This article from whole foods makes the following points.

  • Recent research has underscored the value of careful storage and speedy consumption of fresh asparagus.
  • Asparagus very high respiration rate makes it more perishable than its fellow vegetables.
  • It is also much more likely to lose water, wrinkle, and harden.
  • By wrapping the ends of the asparagus in a damp paper or cloth towel, you can help offset asparagus very high respiration rate during refrigerator storage.
  • Consume asparagus within approximately 48 hours of harvest.
Fresh Asparagus

Nutritional Profile: A profile on asparagus Anti-Cancer Benefits, heart and blood sugar benefits, digestive support and much more about asparagus is available in the whfoods article.

Plant Asparagus-First Year Spears
Vigorous first year asparagus shoots in our new asparagus bed.

How To Grow Asparagus From Bare Root Crowns:

Prepare your garden beds to Grow asparagus from crowns in either Spring or fall. The next spring your first shoots will emerge.

Plant Asparagus From Bare Root Crowns For Many Years Of Harvest.
A well planted first year asparagus bed. Healthy crowns shooting up spears.

Select and prepare your asparagus bed with care

  • Your permanent Asparagus bed will occupy the same spot for 20 years or more. So think carefully about where it will go.
  • Asparagus can tolerate some shade, but full sun produces the most vigorous plants and helps minimize disease.
  • Asparagus needs a DEDICATED bed. Your yield will be adversely affected if you plant other crops in the bed with it.
  • Dave planted leafy greens over his first asparagus bed.
  • He thought it was more efficient to put a cover crop over his crowns. No it wasn’t and asparagus doesn’t like weeds either.

Grow asparagus in a dedicated raised garden bed.

A raised asparagus bed won’t get accidentally squished by a wheelbarrow or in the way of other lower garden crops as the years go by.

Raised beds are easily amended and weeded.

Grow asparagus in a place that allows you to rotate other crops easily.

It’s logistically easier to work and harvest asparagus in a dedicated raised bed.

The soil will warm quicker too for an earlier harvest time in raised beds. (Our asparagus comes up in April but we could push that timeline up by hooping the beds with plastic).

Asparagus Bed. Plant Asparagus
A dedicated raised garden bed makes Asparagus much easier to manage.
  • Asparagus grows best in fertile, lighter soils that warm up quickly in spring and drain well.
  • Standing water will quickly rot the roots.
  • Prepare a planting bed about 4 feet wide by removing all perennial weeds and roots and digging in plenty of aged manure or compost.
  • Asparagus is a heavy feeder so amend it before (or while)planting the crowns.
  • Those roots need years of fertile, nurturing soil to grow and get established.
  • Dave buys organic garden soil from our local Garden Spot Nursery and mixes it into the bed around the crowns when planting.
  • Any good organic garden soil will work or good aged compost if your soil structure is already light with good water and nutrient retention.
Asparagus Crowns In A Dirt Trench.
Grow Asparagus crowns in a trench. The roots are arranged over a dirt mound for each crown.

Grow Asparagus From bare root Crowns best suited to your climate:

  • Choose an all-male variety if high yield is your primary goal.  Our local nursery recommends the Jersey Knight variety. It grows well here and is prolific in our garden zone 8a.
  • Dave’s first asparagus bed was planted in Martha Washington variety. They did not produce well for us.
  • HOW MANY crowns do you need? About 10 to 12 plants per person for fresh eating. More as you prefer.
  • Grow asparagus from 1-year-old crowns. That gives you a year’s head start over seed-grown plants. Two-year-old crowns are usually not a bargain. They tend to suffer more from transplant shock and won’t produce any faster than 1-year-old crowns.
  • Buy crowns from a reputable nursery that sells fresh, firm, disease-free roots suited to your climate zone. Plant them immediately if possible; otherwise, wrap them in slightly damp sphagnum moss until you are ready to plant.
Garden Bed For Asparagus. Plant Asparagus
Dave chose to use 1/2 of his long raised bed for his permanent asparagus bed. The area is about 12 x 4 feet. Strawberries are on the other end of the bed. We may need to move them. Strawberries are very pushy garden companions.

How to Grow Asparagus-First Year.

  • Soak the bare root asparagus crowns for about 20 minutes(or according to the package directions) in vitamin B solution to help them easily transition to the new bed. You can also use a compost tea for soaking the crowns if you prefer.
  • Dig trenches 12 inches wide and 12 inch deep. The bed depth can vary due to your variety and local conditions so be sure to check with your local nurser. Dave put three trenches in side by side about 12 feet long.
  • NOW BUILD A MOUND of dirt for each crown and arrange the crown roots evenly around the mound. So the crowns are topping at about 4 inches under your bed topline.
  • Place the crowns in the trenches 1½ to 2 feet apart. The crown mounds should be far enough apart the roots of one crown do not touch any other. They need room to grow over the years and build a base for yummy crops.
Planting Asparagus Crowns In A Dirt Trench.
Plant asparagus crowns 1 1/2 feet apart.
  • Top the crowns with 2 to 3 inches of soil. That dirt will settle SO…
  • Two weeks later, add another inch or two of soil.
  • Continue adding soil periodically until the soil is completely settled and slightly mound above surface level. The bed will settle even more over the year and those crowns need to remain covered with soil.
  • Shoveling Dirt On Asparagus Bed.
    Keep adding dirt a couple of inches at a time over the next few weeks to set the crowns properly.
  • Once the dirt is properly mounded on the bed Apply mulch (Dave used straw) to smother weeds and retain water and nutrients to the crowns.
  • Carefully remove any weeds that do appear as they compete with the crowns for water and nutrients.
  • Water regularly after planting.
  • Fertilize in spring and fall by top-dressing with a good all purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer, compost tea, a balanced organic fertilizer like Doctor Earth. MULCH your bed through the winter to provide protection from the cold and keep it moist.
  • Asparagus Spears-First Year
    Spear emerging from two crowns. Notice the spear form distinct groupings. Over time the spear will merge together as the roots grow. These crowns were properly spaced to allow future growth of the asparagus crowns.

    How Long before harvest?

    Asparagus Bundle
    Grow your own asparagus for the freshest tastiest stalks.

    THIS is the hard part.

    When you plant asparagus expect to wait three years for a truly good harvest you can actually enjoy.

    YEAR ONE: A few spears the first year are ok for a taste but leave most of them alone. The roots need time to grow and support the plant spears.

    Over harvesting spears the first several years will weaken the crowns and make a less productive bed. keep the bed fertilized, mulched and watered.

    YEAR TWO: You can take about half the crop. keep the bed fertilized, mulched and watered. Let those roots develop!

    YEAR THREE: you should have a vigorous crop of asparagus that you can harvest as you wish. Continue to care for your bed and the plants will multiply themselves and reward your hard work.

    Untitled Design 47

    How to correctly harvest Asparagus:

    Use a sharp knife or hand pruners to cut the spears off just below the soil line.

    Long term Maintenance of your asparagus bed:

    Untitled Design 44
    • Your Asparagus bed in year one and two will grow into asparagus ferns since you are leaving the stalks unharvested.
    • You can allow these fronds to mature and go through winter. They will grow red berries. Very festive. )
    Untitled Design 45

    Spring Chores:

    • Be sure to Remove and destroy the fern like foliage before new growth appears in spring. It can harbor diseases and pests eggs.
    • Every spring before the new spears emerge weed the asparagus bed.
    • Carefully dig in holdover mulch and compost (avoid disturbing the crowns).
    • Apply fresh deep mulch, like straw to hold the weeds down and help retain moisture.
    • Continue to mulch the bed and fertilize with good compost to refresh the crowns every year and to keep weeds down.

    SaveSave


    A Complete Guide To Growing Your Own Asparagus-Pin Image
    Grow asparagus for a perennial crop of spring green delicacies. Plant a bed of asparagus in your garden for a permanent crop. You’ll harvest asparagus for many many years with only slight maintenance over time.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    How to Grow Asparagus Successfully - The Contented Plant

    Thursday 1st of April 2021

    […] bare root asparagus crowns for about 20 minutes (or according to the package directions) in vitamin B solution to help them easily transition to the new bed. You can also use a compost tea for soaking the […]

    David B

    Friday 5th of March 2021

    What purpose does soaking the bare roots in a b12 solution serve? First time I've heard of that.

    Also, you don't need to plant any deeper than 6 inches. The old recommendation was to plant 12 inches deep or more, but that's changed. I've grown asparagus for 30 years and haven't noticed a difference between 6 inches and 12 inches in terms of health and productivity of the plants.

    Thanks

    Diane

    Friday 5th of March 2021

    Hi David, B-12 is a general purpose root growth vitamin. Dave uses it on his transplants to encourage growth of the crown roots. We agree that the crown depth of 6 to 12 inches is pretty much immaterial at this point. Thanks so much for your input on this article. Happy Spring!

    Ed Taylor

    Wednesday 13th of May 2020

    I never planted asparagus til a month ago. I just planted the entire plant with the roots sticking out all over. I see very thin heads of asparagus that are 2 to 3 feet tall and very thin. Is there any hope for real growth..is there anything I can do to get a crop from these plants in 2 years or so?

    Diane

    Wednesday 13th of May 2020

    Hi Ed, Asparagus is a long term project. We are harvesting our asparagus this year. THREE years after our initial bed was planted. We let the asparagus go to ferns the first two years. This helps strengthen the crowns. Just let them be and fertilize the crowns in Fall. If you wait three full seasons the crowns will be strong and very productive for years and years. Next year you can take a FEW. :) Happy Gardening.

    Leslie Overby Cunningham

    Wednesday 6th of May 2020

    I just purchase 129 bare root crowns and came early so not ready to plant them for about a week. HELP PLEASE what can I do to save them?

    Diane

    Wednesday 6th of May 2020

    Hi Leslie, Are they from mail order? Are the dry packed in plastic bags and sawdust? If so they may be fine in a dark corner of your garage (do NOT let them freeze and protect from rodents and other pests.

    Cover them with a blanket or tarp to keep them dark and cool. Keep temperatures at about 40 to 50 degrees if possible. If you have an extra fridge that you can set to 45 degrees F use that.

    Hope that helps. Plant them ASAP.

    S. Cooper

    Wednesday 27th of June 2018

    Thank you for clear and direct directs, the video was also wonderful! I was trying to plant my asparagus like strawberries, I have time to give them a probe burial, so I will cover the crowns as welk.

    Diane

    Wednesday 27th of June 2018

    Hi s.Cooper, We are thrilled you found the post and video helpful. Yes, Bury the crown water and mulch them. Hopefully they will get a good start underground and give you a productive bed in the future. Happy Gardening!

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.